Recent writing

Hi Family Ride readers! I don’t post here as often as I used to because I write a weekly family biking column over at BikePortland.org. Also find me over at Kidical Mass PDX. We’re currently enjoying our annual 30 Days of Biking and I’ll write a recap at or after the end of the month.

Lately on BikePortland.org I’ve written my first-ever product review of the Surly Big Easy (the new e-assist version of my own bike)–Review: Surly’s ‘Big Easy’ smooths out family biking and cargo-hauling.

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Car-free snowboarding at Mt. Hood

Two years ago I wrote about snowboarding for the car-free family when I rented a Zipcar to hit the slopes in Seattle. I toyed with the idea of trying out the ski bus, but never made it happen…until now! However, it was just on my own as a first step in getting the whole family up to the slopes again. The “test run” was worthwhile and yielded a lot of information not available from simply reading the website. I’m not 100% decided I want to brave the bus with the kids in tow, but at least now I know exactly what I’d be getting into.

This was my first visit to Mount Hood Meadows ski resort and I took the Meadows Park & Ride “luxury motorcoach” (tour bus) from the Gateway Transit Center. Since it was just me going, I biked the six miles to the bus stop, but with the kids things will be a bit trickier. Our closest bus doesn’t operate early enough to get us there the suggested 15 minutes before the 6:50 a.m. departure time and six miles is a very big ride for them, especially before 6am! So as a family trip, we’d probably bike two miles to our closest MAX station and ride the train to Gateway. And I think we’d take our three bikes on the light rail with us so we could secure them in a locker at the Gateway Transit Center…which is what I meant to do with my bike, but since my planning started a whole year ago when I got my electronic bike locker card and I haven’t touched it since then, I discovered upon trying to open a locker that I had needed to activate it either online or via phone to get a first-time-user PIN code. Oops! But I had my U-lock with me so I locked my bike and it was still there when I returned 12 hours later. And I saved 60 cents ;) And now I know that there are indeed available lockers and it looks like an adult bike and two kid bikes will fit in one…though my cargo bike is definitely too big.

So my timing was this: I woke up at 5:00 a.m., left the house at 5:50 a.m., got to Gateway Transit Center at 6:25 a.m., got my bike walked over to the bike racks from the locker and myself to the bus stop a block away at 6:35 a.m. per the “arrive 15 minutes early” advice on the skihood website. Most of my fellow bus riders did not arrive that early, by the way. The bus then arrived at 6:56, six minutes behind schedule. We loaded up, big things under the bus (ski boots aren’t allowed to be worn on the bus, though snowboard boots are) and remember which bin you put your stuff in (Gateway was farthest back of three luggage bays) in order to put it in the same bin for the ride home. Then we simply signed in on a passed-around clipboard, which I thought was odd, but the bus driver eventually mentioned he usually has a “chaperone” (a Meadows ski instructor) who boards the bus at Gateway and checks everyone’s ticket receipts for him. We waited until 7:04, but said chaperone never showed so we motored off. The bus was not full on this holiday Monday, by the way. Sounds like the chaperone gets a free ride, but the rest of us had to purchase tickets online over 24 hours in advance.

Our friendly driver, Eric, gave us a snow report, road conditions, and warned us we’d need to stop to chain up just before arriving to Meadows, and that our ETA was 8:30 a.m. or a bit earlier.

Just after driving past an amazing view of Mt. Hood we pulled off the road to chain up. This was at 8:23 a.m. and it took seven minutes. Soon enough we reached the Meadows parking lot and drove all the way to the front, passing rows and rows of parked cars, occasionally honking at people to clear the way. It was 8:44 a.m. when we arrived.

The enormous Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot.

Ours was the only ski bus there, but Eric had us memorize #51 Blue Star bus in case he happened to have company at the end of the day. Eric scared us by sharing that once a kid (a teenager, I guess?) got on the wrong bus at the end of the day and his parents were alarmed when he didn’t deboard when and where they expected. I’d imagine they’re reunited by now, but we all memorized #51 Blue Star after hearing that. We were welcome to return at 3:30 p.m. and find the bus unlocked, but we weren’t required to return until 3:45 p.m. and the bus would leave at 4:00 p.m. with or without us. However, he would check with the first aid clinic at 3:45 p.m. before abandoning anyone. Sometimes people catch rides home from friends and let Eric or the front desk know ahead of time.

The mountain
I loved Meadows, inside and out! My first stop was the women’s restroom and I thought I took a wrong turn into a members-only lounge as there was a huge sitting area before reaching the regular restroom stuff. The lounge area contained lockers, coin-op warming stations for gloves, coin-op clothes dryers (50 cents)…I know because I gave my only two quarters to a woman who had gotten her gloves wet on the way up and had no coins (turns out my gloves had gotten sweaty from biking in them and I hadn’t noticed yet so next time I’ll wear different gloves for the bike ride and also bring more quarters.)

I kept my small stuff with me in a backpack and left big stuff in the lounge, but next time I’ll spring for a locker.

After changing bits and pieces of my outfit to make my layers more snowboardy and less bikey and stowing all my extra stuff, I checked out the lesson area. The main purpose of this test run was to see if the bus delivered people early enough for morning youth lessons, which yes it did! I also wanted to see if the 9:15 a.m. check-in cut-off required rental gear being fitted beforehand, which it doesn’t so I could definitely stick the kids in a morning (10am-12pm) lesson, meet them for lunch, and then all board together a bit before catching the bus home.

View of Meadows from outside the lodge.

I haven’t hit the slopes much since having kids so dynamic lift ticket pricing was new to me. Adult lift tickets can be as low as $49 when purchased in advance on a weekday (or maybe even on the spot on a slow weekday), but my day-of holiday Monday lift ticket was $99 this day. They can go all the way up to $109.

Riding the Cascade Express ski lift at Meadows.

I got lucky with the snow: it was wonderfully sunny with some powder! The previous day was horrible and rainy according to someone I rode the lift with. I’m not a very adventurous snowboarder, and often do the same run over and over (I’m also not a very good snowboarder so practicing the same stuff a bunch of times is exciting enough) so I can’t speak to the whole mountain, but I really liked the Cascade Express quad lift (trail maps here) and rarely had to wait (granted people not snowboarding solo and racing through the singles lift line had a bit of a backup at times). The view from the top of Cascade Express (7305 feet) was magnificent and it connected to several blue runs and the terrain park. I personally don’t do terrain parks, but I like watching people in them from the lift and while boarding by. This one didn’t blare music this day, but that’s another nice bonus of being terrain park adjacent. After five warmup runs I Strava’ed most of the rest of my day so I could remember what I did.

The Cascade Express lift also put me close to slope-side dining at Mazot Eatery “Sky High Snacks, Have a beer and hot dog at 6000 feet!” so I only had to wait in the sort of long hot dog line rather than an incredibly long lodge line for more options. There were a couple stools inside Mazot, but the sun shone on the plentiful Adirondack chairs outside.

Clouds rolled in at one point, but it was a mostly bluebird day.

I finished up, exhausted, a while before my time to reboard the bus so I could rest, snack, and explore the lodge. The ski bus schedule seems perfect for an out-of-practice, out-of-shape blue-run snowboarder as well as for anyone wanting to take a morning (10-12) lesson. I would even work for an afternoon (1-3) lesson, though that leaves a bunch of morning time to kill.

Eric checked with first aid, finding no injured passengers, and with the front desk, finding a message from one passenger who caught a ride with someone else. He shared that passenger’s name with we remaining bus riders in case anyone knew him and had noticed his absence. And then we motored out at 4:06 pm. Traffic down the mountain was at a snail’s pace; it turns out this was the busiest day of the season. Everyone (except for Eric) slept until 6:30 p.m. when we neared town. We finally reached Gateway at 6:45 p.m. and I made it all the way home at 7:30 p.m.

Snowboard attached to backpack, boots on front rack, ready to bike home!

I think I’ll do it again next year, probably once without the kids again and once with! Feel free to leave me any tips in the comments.

Car-Free Los Angeles Visit with Kids (the second)

It’s easy to survive winter in the Pacific Northwest: just escape to somewhere warm and sunny for one week in November and one week in February…or so I was instructed by a wise, SAD-struggling friend upon moving here. It sounds like a lovely method, but one I’ve never been able to practice in 10 years. However, we do get to escape occasionally, such as for visiting relatives in California over winter break this year. I always look into sticking with our usual routine and bike for transportation when we’re out of town, but when that’s not easy to do I try to at least keep things car-free.

Taking light rail to the beach was a blast.

My father and brother both live in Los Angeles and I’ve long wanted to visit Los Angeles, the City of Autos (not an official LA nickname), without renting a car–ever since reading this New York Times piece seven years ago: Los Angeles, by Bike and on a Budget by then Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel. Prior to reading that article I didn’t think a car-free visit to Los Angeles was within the realm of possibility. I love getting all around Portland without a car, and realize this is one of the best American cities in which to do so. Yet I find it easy to fall into the trap of thinking cars are essential in other cities–especially if we’re there for just a short visit sans bikes and sans family biking friends to lead us around. But it turns out that’s not the case at all!

It took us a while to get here:

  • Three visits ago we rented a car, but stayed walking distance from one of our planned destinations, La Brea Tar Pits, and did some walking for the first time ever.
  • Two visits ago we rented a car and stayed in walkable Venice Beach, but still drove our rental car every day for various outside-of-Venice activities and family visits.
  • Last winter we had a true transit-based car-free Los Angeles visit and it was magical!

This year the kids’ legs are that much longer and I was that much more prepared to get around Los Angeles by transit and while I hardly feel like an expert, I hope our experience will help inspire others to try travel to LA and other cities with transit systems sans car, too. And note: I’ve visited Los Angeles several times, but I’ve never lived there so I don’t have a huge advantage over any other visitor.

Staying close to transit
Staying in the same neighborhood as relatives is convenient, but staying in a walkable neighborhood along the same transit line can be even better. I chose Old Pasadena because it’s along the LA Metro light rail Gold Line, four stops away from my brother in Highland Park. I prefer rail to bus since trains tend to run more frequently, always stop at all the clearly-marked stops, and are immune to car traffic. But finding walkable neighborhoods a simple bus ride away from a frequent destination is also a winner for a transit-based vacation.

The TAP machines give change in coins (fun!), but paying online is very easy.

Easy transit payments
Being able to easily pay for train and bus trips makes things a lot smoother than needing to pay for tickets each trip, like I did last visit. I still had our Transit Access Pass (TAP) cards from last year (though I could have ordered fresh with 10-15 business days to wait) and used the website to add stored values to our three cards. Nearly all transit agencies in Los Angeles County–plus Metro Bike Share–use TAP so it was just as easy as using transit at home (we take the bus or MAX about once a month in Portland and I purchase tickets ahead of time on my smartphone with the TriMet Tickets app).

Apps for riding
I use Google maps transit directions for trip planning, even when I’m using my phone while out and about as it’s what I’m most comfortable with, but for this trip it didn’t warn me of rail closures and bus stops closed for construction. I downloaded the Go Metro app halfway through the trip, but didn’t use it enough to get used to it and find it easier than my familiar, if fallible, Google maps system. I also have the Transit app on my smart phone per the suggestion of car-free-traveler-extraordinaire Jessica Roberts, but again, practice makes perfect and I never use it so I didn’t find it helpful for advance notice of transit changes. I’d love to hear any of your transit app tips and recommendations in the comments below.

Looking at a screen and looking at the view: two ways to pass the time on the train.

Our five-day trip was punctuated by missteps each day, but it was still awesome. Here’s a day-by-day recap:

Day 1: The day our flight was canceled (Friday, December 14)
Leaving Portland our bus-to-Green-Line-to-Red-Line voyage to PDX was smooth, but upon check-in we learned our flight had just canceled. The next LAX flight with available seats wasn’t for seven hours, but as luck would have it there was a flight to Burbank at our original flight time with room for three more passengers. It was just a lucky break that I asked at the ticket counter about Burbank–my brother texted me earlier in the day curious if we were flying to LAX or Burbank which tipped me off that Burbank must also be close to Highland Park/Old Pasadena. It turns out it’s even closer, but flights cost more than to LAX so we’ve never flown there. However, this meant I needed to figure out transit from Burbank on the fly. I’m used to having lots of times to poke around online at home and I like to make detailed lists before going anywhere. However, I was extremely glad not to add seven hours to our travel day so I embraced the adventure. Since we had arrived to the airport two hours early, I had time to find and read the Hollywood Burbank Airport Buses & Trains page and learn about the free shuttle to a Metrolink station. Using the shuttle and the Metrolink regional train to Union Station was quicker, cheaper, and more comfortable than our original plan of taking the FlyAway Bus from LAX to Union Station. From there we grabbed the Gold Line to my brother’s house for dinner, sticking to our original plan and timing.

Day 2: Gold Line track closure (Saturday, December 15)
Taking light rail trains everywhere is great…until there are disruptions. The Gold Line tracks were closed for three stops’ worth and the incredibly long courtesy bus bypass helped me appreciate just how effective rail is. There wasn’t much car traffic and taking surface streets provided a pleasant change of scenery, but it took forever to get downtown.

Angel’s Flight for when transit is the destination, not only the mode of transportation.

We met my family (dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew who all also took transit over) to explore very walkable Little Tokyo. After we tired out the young relatives we walked a short distance to meet up with car-free friends from San Francisco conveniently visiting LA at the same time. They were staying downtown and were able to get most places with short bus rides. Naturally, we had to ride a cable car together for a dose of SF in LA–the Angel’s Flight Railway funicular can be paid for (and is half the price) with TAP cards.

That, the Last Bookstore, and ice cream in black cones (rock on!) kept us out late enough that the Gold Line tracks were back open by the time we TAPped our way back to Old Pasadena, thank goodness.

I saw several people with their own e-scooters.

Day 3: The last-mile problem (Sunday, December 16)
Walking a few blocks to the light rail station, playgrounds, and lunch spots is a breeze, but when the destination is a mile away things get tricky. My kids can walk a mile, but we’re not big walkers since we usually have our bikes for going that distance. My niece’s Nutcracker performance was held in Pasadena, a bit more than a mile from our hotel, so we took a Pasadena Transit bus (which takes TAP, of course) to attend. For those 16 and older bike- and e-scooter share are perfect solutions for these sorts of trips, but Pasadena booted bike share after one year and e-scooter share isn’t there, either. I saw a lot of people biking around Pasadena, mostly on the sidewalk. I also saw several people all around LA with their own electric scooters.

Lots of Angelenos get around by transit plus bikes.

Day 3: Getting around with a pulled back muscle (Monday, December 17)
Carrying all our daytime stuff (snacks, water bottles, emergency Madlibs) in my messenger bag and sleeping on a hotel sofa bed left my back aching by the morning of day three. I recruited the kids to do all the carrying between their two backpacks so I fared well for our day of travel. Going forward I’ll stop being the only packhorse in the family as a preventative measure. Also, the kids (9 and 11) are able to carry more, walk more, and go longer between eating than I had given them credit for.

7th Street/Metro Center

This day’s main excursion was a big one, to La Brea Tar Pits to meet our San Francisco friends. We took the Gold Line to the Purple Line to a bus while they took a bus. Our Purple Line train was stinky and their bus was stinky so we were both happy to be out in the [slightly-asphalt-scented] fresh air.

A few construction spots on Wilshire Blvd had made it difficult to find our bus stop upon exiting the Purple Line on the way over as well as getting back on the bus upon leaving. Another reason for me to familiarize myself with a real-time transit app before our next trip, though missing a bus while orienting ourselves wasn’t the end of the world.

Three different bike shares in Santa Monica!

Lovely walking paths at Union Station.

Day 4: Unable to TAP for bikes (Tuesday, December 18)
Beach day! The Expo Line is pretty new, very fast, and a great way to get to Santa Monica. We took the Gold Line to the Red Line to the Expo Line for a day of beach, boardwalk, and aquarium. To break up the travel a bit, we had lunch at Union Station. It’s a gorgeous station (or stations, plural, as you’ve probably seen it play a number of different train stations on the big and small screen) so it’s nice to break up travel by stopping at the Crepe Cafe in the Grand Waiting Room at the west end, watching the fish in the aquarium in the east lobby, or exploring the paths outside.

Protected bike lanes to the beach.

I’ve been to Santa Monica several times, though it’s been a while–our most recent visit included joining a Kidical Mass ride with Santa Monica Spoke five years ago (to which we traveled by rental car and borrowed a bike). Things have changed! We stepped off the train to see three (three!) different kinds of bike share bikes, several brands of e-scooter shares, and a protected bike lane connecting the train station to the beach. I was so excited I tried my TAP card on a Metro Bike, but it didn’t take (turns out I should have registered for bike share online ahead of time). I had entertained the idea of putting us all on bikes, then downgraded to an idea of two bikes and one e-scooter, then one bike/one e-scooter/one jogger, but in the end we walked the three short blocks to the Santa Monica Pier.

Sweltering at the bus stop.

Day 6: Stuck in traffic (Wednesday, December 19)
On our last day in LA as we met up with my dad and took the Gold Line to Highland Park and then the DASH bus to a park near my brother’s house that was a bit too far (and too up and over a hill) to walk. My father warned me the DASH bus doesn’t stick to much of a schedule and we had quite the wait stuck out in the relentless sun. There’s another thing I prefer about light rail over bus–there’s usually shade at the station. Heading back the other direction provided us some shade (but also a longer-than-expected wait) so that was a bit better.

Waiting for the FlyAway Bus with a gazillion other travelers.

I thought I had learned from our last visit to give extra time (a lot more than the suggestion to arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time) for the FlyAway Bus, but we arrived only 20 minutes early for the 5:00 p.m. bus which would get us to LAX just 10 minutes shy of two hours before our flight. The previous (4:30 p.m.) bus was stuck in traffic and hadn’t even arrived yet, but it was sold out. In the end our bus left 25 minutes late and took 75 minutes (estimated travel time is 35 minutes) to get to the airport. We still had plenty of time, but next time I’ll really know better. Or maybe next time I’ll consider my dad’s helpful back-up-plan suggestion to take the Red Line to the Blue Line to the Green Line to a free shuttle to LAX. He cautioned the Blue Line is extremely slow to begin with, plus you have to travel a third of the way to Long Beach to do this. It’s nice to have access to a local with insider (and opinionated) knowledge of transit. He also coached me about sitting at the fronts or backs of various trains for easy transfers and station exits.

Speaking of traffic, this marked the day after the Boring Tunnel debut, right in Los Angeles! I spent the long FlyAway Bus trip reading all the articles about it. These are my favorites:

But better than all that was a tweet from Metro:

Tired on transit is better than frustrated in a car in my book.

It was a bit of a shame that our trip had no bicycling whatsoever, but walking and transit-taking are the next best thing.

What about you, have you traveled solo or with kids and taken transit? Are you currently planning winter or spring break travel and will you be able to skip using a car for some or all of it?

Happy Seventh Birthday, Big Dummy!

It’s that time again! My Big Dummy turned seven today so here’s a quick recap of what I can remember about our adventures over the past year…

The kids mostly ride their own bikes, but I still take my Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike just about all the time. Every so often I get to carry a kid and his bike, though fortunately never both kids at the same time. Here’s my 11-year old from Friday who got a little too wet, cold, and tired on the way home from middle school:

I’ve also delved into towing a little bit. On the way to the pumpkin farm this October I towed each kid on his bike one at a time:

and one time I towed my nine-year old around on his longboard:

And I’m using the bike for work for the first time ever! I used it to fetch and charge e-scooters during the pilot project. I hope they’ll come back and I can do more.

It’s always exciting when my bike gets conveyed far afield and the trip to the Columbia River Gorge on the Cordilleran Tours van was something else!

I also found some cool, big stuff on the side of the road (#groundscore!) like these two bookcases:

And in more normal carrying, toting my single-speed bike, folding bike, and skateboard to the Ladd’s 500 and then riding a lot of my laps (many of which were with photographers or podcaster on the back) with my Big Dummy was a wonderful usage of the bike.

I always like to do a “day in the life” recap of the Big Dummy’s birthday so here’s our day:

Today started out a little slow because my nine-year old woke up with a little cough so I didn’t do the usual two-mile round trip ride to escort him to school at 8:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. I loaded up Pixie into the basket and biked eight miles round trip to escort my 11-year old to school.

Lindsey Bikes! is visiting so we set out to meet up with Kath of Portlandize for fabric store, visit to Clever Cycles, lunch at Lardo, pet food store (where I bought a 10-pound bag of dog food, yay cargo to carry!), Books with Pictures, retrieved my 11-year old from school, and surprise flat tire on Lindsey’s bike and short walk to A Better Cycle to get it fixed.

Then I traded friends for Pixie and headed north to record an episode of the Sprocket Podcast–my sixth time, Pixie’s first time. That’ll post to their site in a few days. Obvs, I spoke about the bike’s birthday a bunch.

All told it was a 36-mile day, but it’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles and there were countless ones of those!

Read previous birthday posts:

My week of curating @eastpdx

Portland is comprised of five quadrants: Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast, and also North. While not a proper quadrant, East Portland also has its own identity, made up of anything east of 50th. Or anything east of 82nd, depending on who you ask. Needless to say, I find Portland’s boundaries a little confusing, but I consider myself a East Portlander who lives in the Southeast quadrant. We leave East Portland for a lot of stuff (like our neighborhood middle school), but many of our favorite places are out this way. Since we don’t live desirably “close in,” I feel pretty in tune with East Portland, far from the fanciest bike infrastructure and fancier non-bike stuff.

The eastpdx project has intrigued me since I first discovered it–it’s a Twitter account run by a different East Portlander each week who can tweet about whatever they want. The account has featured important people, like Jo Ann Hardesty then candidate/now electee for Portland City Council, but also some regular people which prompted me to apply to be a curator.

I thought it’d be fun to showcase family biking in East Portland for a week. I planned to use it as an excuse to bike to all our favorite places in East Portland and snap a bunch of photos as well as show off some of the better bike infrastructure closer in to show what we’re missing out this way. Curators can tweet as little or as much as they want and I had hoped to tweet a lot and bike a lot, but it turned out to be a lot more work than I realized! In retrospect I should have planned more in advance. I made notes of places I wanted to go ahead of time, but I should have also made notes on general things I wanted to tweet about–and I should have composed all those general-thing tweets ahead of time for convenient cutting and pasting. I’m not much of a retweeter to begin with, but this is the perfect sort of account to retweet all the articles I see and read via twitter each day. Also my kids were both sick here and there during the week so that put a damper on things and kept us from doing much of anything.

Perhaps I’ll become a bit better of a tweeter on my @familyride account now, but in the meantime I wholeheartedly appreciate the effort put forth by those with more robust accounts!

Below is my week of @eastpdx tweets for posterity:

@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I’m excited to pedal my way into the week of tweeting about East Portland (and a little bit beyond). I’d love to hear from you if you also bike in the area!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I love biking by Little Free Libraries! This cute @LtlFreeLibrary is right by Glenwood City Park. Sorry in advance if I pepper my week of tweets with funny idioms 😜


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Do you enjoy street paintings/murals, too? Colorful and traffic calming! This one is in front of Kelly Elementary. Here’s more about it from @CityRepair : Kelly Elementary Community Painting


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Adding to my list of things easy to notice, appreciate, and pause at by bike: bike-themed yard art. This garden penny farthing on SE Knight always catches my eye.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I’m familiar with the war memorials in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, but Veterans Day got me curious about any East Portland memorials. I discovered the Oregon Korean Veteran’s Memorial in Willamette National Cemetery.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
How are you faring in the wind? At home I thought this was an odd all-directions wind, but after biking east to the cemetery I can verify this is the typical Portland east wind.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Portland has two winds: the dry east wind and the wet west wind. I have yet to decide if I dislike biking in wind or biking in rain more.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I should point out that my bike is BIG and weighs 75 pounds so I don’t really have to worry about getting buffeted by side gusts, making wind more of an annoyance than a safety hazard for me.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
p.s. my bike is called a “longtail cargo bike” and designed to carry big loads, like up to 3 kids or furniture. It’s foot longer than a regular bike and very sturdy.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Currently reading (and enacting) our newly borrowed book on the bus. 30 idioms weren’t enough for the whole ride from downtown to Woodstock, but it helped make the trip fun!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
We mostly bike everywhere, but for things too far or too late (about once a month) we use transit—like coming home from the train station tonight.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
Do you know that saying, “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.” My nine-year old doesn’t subscribe to it, but at 38-feels-like-35 degrees I’m all bundled up and comfortable.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
At 40-feels-like-38 degrees my 11-year old is dressed for the weather. Granted he bikes 4 miles/30 minutes to middle school while his little brother only bikes 1 mile/6 minutes to elementary school.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
His chin was still cold so tomorrow he’ll wear his balaclava, too.
PRO TIP: call balaclavas “ninja masks” to encourage resistant cold kids to happily wear them.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
I mentioned we only ride transit once a month, but I love that we have easy access to the bus. Have you read former EastPDX curator @joann4portland‘s “One Portland, One Planet” page? I love her views on public transportation. https://joannforportland.com/climatejustice/


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
This @BikePortland story “Portland’s new commissioner-elect sees a carfree future with fareless and fast transit” about @joann4portland covers transit, bikes, walking, rideshare tax, and @pdxvisionzero. I have high hopes for the future!
Portland’s new commissioner-elect sees a carfree future with fareless and fast transit


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
My 4th grader missed lunch while at the dentist so I took him to his favorite, Primal Burger, before bringing him back.

I love dining with a view of our parked bikes.

Here’s an article by Portlander @ellyblue about the importance of bike parking: The Best Way to Promote City Riding? Bike Racks


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
I’m lucky my bike is so heavy (75 pounds, a regular bike is probably 30 pounds) so if there’s no bike rack I can “wheel lock” (lock frame to wheel so it can’t be rolled away) and rest assured it probably won’t get carried away. Not that I do this often bc better safe than sorry!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
I hope never to give the impression you HAVE to have a special bike for family biking. The bike you already have is always the best bike! However, I sure love my bike—a longtail cargo bike can carry kids and their bikes at the same time (ate too much at lunch).


You Retweeted

Chris Smith
@chrissmithus · Nov 13
Madi, I hope you’ll draw attention to the new bike parking zoning code making its way to the Planning and Sustainability Commission in January: https://t.co/dTpsIrkQmJ More and better bike parking for new development (including larger spaces for bikes like yours)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
Have you noticed the numerous street signs rotated 90 degrees?! It makes wayfinding difficult…I usually encounter them only when I really want to know where I am!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
Do you know about bike-specific signal detectors? Put your front wheel on the bike-on-a-stick to trigger a green light. Useful if you don’t travel with a kid who likes to go push the button a gazillion times *bee-boop* *bee-boop* *bee-boop*


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
🎁 Heat packs, gloves, ponchos, socks! 🎁
This isn’t my favorite way to shop, but wish lists are great for involving kids—mine just perused the list and decided what to add to our cart to send to Street Roots.

You Retweeted

Silicon Florist
@siliconflorist · Nov 14
Did you know that our friends at @StreetRoots have an @amazonwishlist for things their vendors need? It’s a simple and straightforward way to support some of the most incredible entrepreneurs in our community Supporting our entire entrepreneurial community: Street Roots has an Amazon Wishlist


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
The four-mile bike ride to our neighborhood middle school is kinda far so thank goodness for the school bus when we can’t ride. We’ve only had to use it twice so far this year–once when I was sick and today with my littler kid home sick.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
Did you read or hear about the woman injured by the tripwire on the I-205 path? I first read about it on http://BikePortland.org and was saddened by some of the comments. Here’s a just-published compassionate guest opinion.

You Retweeted

BikePortland
@BikePortland · Nov 14


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
I ride the I-205 path with my kids, not daily but regularly. We don’t find the path scary and it fuels good discussions on houselessness in Portland.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
From a comment on that opinion piece by a BikePortland reader named Nathan. Something I’ve definitely noticed, but never put into words before. We who bike for transportation come into contact with houseless neighbors more than those in cars.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
My bike often serves as a conversation starter so I find it easier than some to talk with houseless neighbors.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
The thing I don’t like about the I-205 path is that since it’s one of the few places people feel safe to live I’m sort of pushing my way through _their_ safe space, not the other way around.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
When possible I avoid the path at night, not because I’ve felt unsafe, but because I worry about the few spots were people don’t have space to put their tents and stuff next to the path and are vulnerable upon part of the path.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
HOWEVER, I do have one bad story about the I-205 path:
I’m not out at night much, but was a couple weeks ago. I spent some time figuring out a route that avoided the path. Heading home two guys in a car shadowed me for a couple blocks as I crossed a bridge over I-205…


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
Naturally the path seemed safer so I left the street as soon as possible…and rode through a huge patch of broken glass that seemed intentionally placed. I didn’t place blame at the time, but now I wonder if it wasn’t the 3 men who set the tripwire. It was in the same exact spot


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
Rather than have my sixth grader take the school bus home I toted his bike, his sick little brother, and his dog to get him at the end of the day. Yay cargo bikes!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
I love admiring murals from the saddle of my bike. We pedal past this “Twinkle” mural on the Phoenix Pharmacy Building every day. Here’s more about this @seuplift and @fosterpowellna Foster Window Project


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Foggy this morning! We stick to quiet streets and travel slowly enough that the limited visibility doesn’t affect us other than create a pretty and eerie backdrop. Is fog a hinderance for you?


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I stopped by one of my favorite @LtlFreeLibrary this morning: Reading is Magical!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I’ve been stopping by Little Free Libraries to leave books lately because I wasn’t organized enough to assemble a pile to donate during our schools’ Children’s Book Harvests ****BUT**** I just checked out @PDXbookbank and see I can donate directly!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
More @PDXbookbank info. It’s just a 40-minute bike ride from home for me!


You Retweeted

Children’s Book Bank
@PDXbookbank · Nov 9
Our annual Children’s Book Harvest is in full swing! This impressive donation (23 boxes!) came from Rieke Elementary. These books will be cleaned, repaired, and redistributed to students in our community. Many thanks from us (and Clifford😉)!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Have you heard of a “walking school bus?” (Or “WSB” if you’re into acronyms.)

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
http://www.walkingschoolbus.org/ is a website maintained by @SafeRoutesNow and @USDOT with info on how to start a WSB and why you might want to.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Our elementary school counselor taught me something interesting: WSBs aren’t just fun, healthy, and good for the brain, they help with attendance!

Per @SafeRoutesNow: “Transportation is one of the key barriers to attendance that contributes to chronic absenteeism and tardiness.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Any one person can start a walking school bus and many start organically, but our school counselor is helping us coordinate a couple starting soon. Yay!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Since I’m the self-proclaimed “Bike to School Mom” at our school (and many students think I’m the Bike Fairy, though of course no one knows who the Bike Fairy is!) I’ve volunteered to lead one of the WSBs…even though it’ll mean a less simple morning for us.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I feel silly about this, but I have no idea how long it takes to walk to school–we’ve only ever biked! I was going to do a practice run yesterday, but my sick student got us off the hook.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
So I can sort of relate to how tough it is to break the routine when that routine is driving to school and you’re tempted to switch to walking, biking, or busing to school.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a movement that aims to make it safer and easier for students to walk and bike to school.
If you want to follow the local SRTS account, find it here: @SafeRoutesPNW


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
While I’m talking SRTS, we have some great free resources (i.e. FREE PRIZES) here in Portland. @PBOTinfo and @thestreettrust provided all schools who filled out the form with prizes for Walk to School Day last month. I wrote about it on @bikeportland: Family Biking: Time to plan for Walk and Roll to School Day


You Retweeted

SafeRoutes PNW
@SafeRoutesPNW · Nov 17
There are many SRTS programs in the greater Portland area – in Portland alone, great work is being done by @PBOTinfo @CommCyclingCtr @OregonWalks and @thestreettrust


You Retweeted

SafeRoutes PNW
@SafeRoutesPNW · Nov 17
There are also #SRTS programs at @multco and @CityofGresham pretty much covering all of east county and doing great work.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I’m looking forward to hearing more about this via the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association!

You Retweeted

Foster-Powell
Replying to @eastpdx @SEUplift
@FosterPowellNA · Nov 17
Did you hear that the building was recently sold to an LLC that includes Preservationist Developers?
Phoenix Pharmacy has been sold


You Retweeted

Foster-Powell
@smb · Nov 17
Wading back into transit issues, I wish @trimet would bring (back?) weekend service for the 10 Harold, to make it easier, particularly for teens, to get to Mt. Scott CC.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Much of Portland is made up of grids of quiet (and flat!) streets so most days I explore between home and my son’s middle school and discover neat stuff. Like most recently: these chickens! 🐔!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Since I bike with my kids a lot I’m pretty careful about choosing my routes. I wrote about my strategies on @BikePortland : Humans, bike maps, and of course, Google: How to choose family-friendly routes


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
You may have noticed I often have a dog in my bike basket. That’s Pixie! She and the Makery Flock liked each other 🐔❤️🐶. If you want to know more about Pixie and about biking with dogs in general, here’s my @BikePortland post on 🚲🐕: Biking with the family dog


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Cute thing I biked by today: the house with the little horses. Fun fact: they’re all the same size as our dog! (I let her walk through their corral once 😜)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
If you’re on Facebook there’s a fun group called “Hidden Portland for the Curious” that features things like this


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
That said, I like shining a light on Portland that’s not so “Portlandy.” I love that one of the questions for we curators is “How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?”
Click each of us on the main https://www.eastpdx.com page to read bios


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Here’s another @LtlFreeLibrary near us. It has everything quote-unquote Portlandy: doughnuts, hops, white stag, roses, Unipiper, PDX airport carpet, plastic horses attached to the metal rings.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Hooray for CCIM making transit, walking, and biking easier downtown, but can someone tell me what @ChloeEudalyPDX‘s “…the city is current ‘over-investing’ in east Portland” means? (In the third paragraph of the BikePortland post.) Thanks!

You Retweeted

BikePortland
@BikePortland · Nov 16
ICYMI, #Portland #pdxbikes had a huge night last night. Central City in Motion plan sailed through council! Fully updated story with all the action from the meeting here


You Retweeted

Stuckey 🌹⚽️🥑🏀
Replying to @eastpdx @ChloeEudalyPDX
@StuckeyDuck · Nov 16
I believe there are already millions of dollars allocated to planned and upcoming infrastructure projects in EPDX over the next few years.

How that’s considered “over-investment” after 4 decades of neglect, I’m not sure… but regardless, good things are coming to #EastPDX too!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Friday! We biked to Eastport Plaza where car parking looked hard to come by, but bike parking was easy as always. Dinner was sushi at Fujiyama—kids love the conveyor belt! 🚲🍣😁


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Oops, missed a turn on the way home from Eastport Plaza, but that meant we cruised past both Portland Mercado and this fave Southeast Portland mural.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
In my defense of missing my turn…Portland street signs: illegible habitats for moss or directional aids??


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Let’s talk green spaces! Our family has only scratched the surface of the many great East Portland parks and gardens that are easily accessed by bike. Here’s an incomplete compilation of some not-the-norm playgrounds… (1/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Gateway Green: I like the easy singletrack mountain bike trails, the kids like the bike skills park. It’s *only* accessible by the I-205 Trail and is very close to the Gateway Transit Center. Nice for walking around, too!
@gatewaygreenpdx
Gateway Green (2/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
The Belmont Goats: Are moving again, but they’re in Lents for one more week! (Closed today and tomorrow, though.) Have you visited them? My kids love brushing their coats or pausing to watch them from the I-205 Trail.
@thebelmontgoats
The Belmont Goats (3/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Johnson Creek Property: One the Springwater Corridor Trail, less than half a mile west of Cartlandia, we love these small wetlands with gravel trails and interpretive signs. Great image from Google street view. (4/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
The PSU Learning Gardens Laboratory: One of those tucked-away places you might not notice–I didn’t notice it for a year of walking the dog right past it! Without a dog in tow (no dogs allowed), it’s pretty to walk through.
PSU Learning Gardens Laboratory (5/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Powell Butte Nature Park: We haven’t explored here yet, but I know we’ll love it. The south side of the park abuts the Springwater Corridor Trail so it’s easy for us to bike to. It’s popular for hiking and mountain biking.
Powell Butte Nature Park (6/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Leach Botanical Garden: Another on our to-do list. It’s close to the Springwater Corridor Trail, but the parts off the trail don’t seem like kid-friendly biking roads so I’ll do a solo test run. I suspect we’ll ride the sidewalk of 122nd south from the trail.
@LeachGarden (7/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Leach Botanical Garden (continued): p.s. cool event at Leach Botanical Garden with Why There Are Words PDX @wtawpdx tomorrow:
Six acclaimed authors read on the theme “Migrate.” For details and readers’ bios: link
4pm, $10 suggested donation. (8/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
/end. That wasn’t a very long list, do you have anything to add? I’ll retweet! (9/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
We had lunch at @PortlandMercado today—yum! Obligatory photo of the bike parking.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Looks like we timed our @PortlandMercado visit too early–party tonight!


You Retweeted

La Arepa PDX
@LaArepaPDX · Nov 9

La Arepa PDX Retweeted Portland Mercado

Oh yeah, this is our event: https://www.facebook.com/events/714018888965908/
Portland Mercado
@PortlandMercado · Nov 10

We are thrilled to have La Arepa as part of the Portland Mercado Familia!!! Join us Saturday November 17th for their Gran Opening!!!


You Retweeted

Jeff Frane
Replying to @eastpdx @PortlandMercado
@jefffrane · Nov 17
That place is a real treasure!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Despite the nice weather, we played indoors today, at the Mt. Scott Community Center Roller Rink.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
We’re also very fond of the swimming pool at Mt. Scott Community Center. Have you been?? During family/open swim there’s a big slide, a current with whirlpool, toddler fun stuff, rope swing, and for adults: lap swim and hot tub. (Pix from their website)


You Retweeted

Steve Beattie
@smb · Nov 17
Wading back into transit issues, I wish @trimet would bring (back?) weekend service for the 10 Harold, to make it easier, particularly for teens, to get to Mt. Scott CC.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Spotted while playing at the Mt. Scott Park: Native American Marketplace & Family Day next Saturday. Here’s the Facebook event: Native American Marketplace & Family Day


You Retweeted

Steve Beattie
@smb · Nov 17
The Teenforce program at Mt. Scott Community Center is pretty great, too. Our family currently has a teen who plays DnD there every weekend.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
Recap day! I’m so honored to have been able to curate the account for a week. I hope you enjoyed the peek into the life of a family biker. -madi


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I bike for transportation for all the reasons:
It’s fun!
It’s healthier for me than driving.
It puts me more in touch with my surroundings and community.
It’s non-polluting.
It’s cheaper than driving.
(I can’t rank them, it’s a five-way tie 😀 )


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
We (myself and two kids) bike everywhere, every day, with 10 years of practice under our belts.
But getting started even just replacing the occasional car trip with a bike trip is awesome!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I LOVE talking anything and everything bikes, with or without kids in tow, so please tweet at me at @familyride if you have any questions.
Choosing bikes and bike-related gear, finding safe routes, riding in various weather conditions, you name it!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
It’s easy to fall into bike advocacy as a bike commuter, especially as a bike commuting mom. Advocacy accounts I follow are @bikeloudpdx and @nomorefreeways


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I read all the local bike news on @BikePortland (and I write a family biking column that posts each Tuesday).


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
Portland is one of the best cities in America for biking and even though East Portland doesn’t have a lot of the fancy infrastructure of close-in SE, we still have lots of intersecting quiet streets and useful multi-use paths–the Springwater Corridor Trail and I-205 Trail.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I’d hoped to bike to all my favorite places as well as some new spots this week, but juggling life and kids with stomach bugs put a bit of a damper on that. However, showcasing family biking with sick kids was useful, too, I hope! And again: thank goodness for the school bus.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
So thanks again for following along and I look forward to reading tweets from the next curators. I <3 this project!! -madi @familyride


Portland has new “bike-friendly” speed bumps, but I don’t like them for families

He meant to do that.

It’s always exciting to see something new in the world of bike infrastructure. A few Portland roads were repaved and treated with new “bike-friendly” speed bumps. BikePortland ran a post about them last week: PBOT’s experimental bike-friendly speed bumps. The article garnered a lot of great (and some silly) comments…but there were few comments specific to biking the bumps with kids. I’d love to hear what other family bikers think here or there or both.

Even when I’m not riding with my kids in tow I imagine how each road I take would feel with them along. I take this one step further for any new infrastructure and wonder how all sorts of people would feel using it. In the case of these new bumps I immediately thought of trailers and trikes. Save some tilty cargo trikes and recumbent or semi-recumbent trikes, trailers and trikes like to stay level. Hitting the rut with one wheel at slow speed would probably cause an uncomfortable lean, but I think hitting it while traveling at speed would be jarring for a trike or trailer and possibly cause it to tip over. I’d really like to hear thoughts in the comments from trike riders and trailer pullers.

Bagging-and-dragging is as wide as I get–it kind of fits.

I’ve had a chance to ride on a road with these new-style speed bumps for a while now–before last month’s SE Clinton project over four miles of SE Harold (from 52nd to Foster) was repaved and decorated with these same bumps. Except I haven’t been using them as intended until recently because the installation left a lot of gravel in the ruts and it stayed there for a long time. I’m all for riding through the pebble- and rock-sized gravel on unimproved roadways, but I was too scared to ride through the sandy gravel in the ruts. I don’t know if this means they’ll collect grit throughout the winter, but it makes me suspect they will.

Harold Street, where the sharrows don’t aim at the bike-friendly ruts.

Like others, I assumed the ruts were for emergency vehicles. Many of the greenways in Seattle, our old stomping grounds, have cushions spaced for emergency vehicles (though often only on steep blocks) with wider ruts. My kids could easily navigate the wider Seattle ruts, but the thought of them using these narrow ones worries me.

Biking west on Clinton without my kids I got the distinct impression that the ruts are for people biking fast to stay up to speed. Harold is flat and I’m very slow without a downhill incline or I would have come to this conclusion sooner. Back to Clinton, it’s really fun to hit the ruts while barreling downhill fast. But I hope that’s not who our greenways are designed for.

And what about in the uphill direction? It’s hard to get a heavy bike or trike uphill to begin with and a regular speed bump makes more of a hill to surmount. So the idea of a channel is nice, but aiming a heavy bike uphill at such a narrow rut sounds horrid.

I talk to my kids a lot about riding predictably and in straight lines (not that you’d suspect this if you’ve biked with them lately–they’re predictably wiggly) so I dislike the swerving encouraged by the placement of the ruts. Harold is wide so I’m not already biking in line with the rut–especially if there are no cars parked for an entire block, leaving lots of space for me on the right side of the road. I dislike slowing to go over the bumps, but it seems safer than swerving to use the ruts. But even worse, people driving (about half in my observation) swerve to aim their front left tires at the ruts. Or as I saw once (so far), the man driving a big truck took to the center of the street so he could put his left tires into the oncoming traffic rut and his right tires into his rut. Eek!

I don’t take my kids on Harold regularly (too busy) and they haven’t been on that part of Clinton since the repaving, but I braved one block of Harold with my 11-year old to see what he’d think and do. He said he’d normally opt to avoid the ruts because bumps are more fun, but he humored me and rode the ruts–the first one cleanly and the second one wigglyly (see the gif at the top of the page). He claimed he did that on purpose and didn’t seem worried about losing control, however I was a bit scared for him as I watched from behind.

Personally, I think a busy street like Harold should have speed bumps, but either regular continuous ones or a truly bike-friendly design with bigger ruts. Meanwhile, greenways deserve more diverters and fewer speed bumps. Assuming a diverter costs 10 times more than one speed bump (per this and this) it doesn’t seem that far out of reach.

Tipping hazards should be fun and in car-free settings (woop-di-doo at the 2014 Fiets of Parenthood).

Our second annual visit to Liepold Farms for pumpkins

We biked to the full pumpkin experience at Liepold Farms again this year! Here’s the recap of last year’s first-annual visit: Halloween Pumpkins ON A FARM by Bike.

This year was a bit different in that we biked just the three (well, four counting Pixie) of us–last year we rode over with the Portlandize family, but this year we met up with the Metal Cowboy and two kids at the farm.

The farm itself was terrific as always:
Corn maze!
Scavenger hunt!
Hay ride!
Dark maze (I didn’t go in and the kids thought it was a little scary, but they did it)!
Apple catapult!
So many pumpkins!
Goats!
Food!

My kids are that much bigger and stronger that the ride didn’t feel like such a huge undertaking this year, but that was balanced out by the weather being worse than last year. I tried to conteract that by using a makeshift tow rope for fun. Note: there are real bike-to-bike tow ropes out there and I’m intrigued by the TowWhee, which I first became aware of thanks to the Acme Bicycles Instragram (Tim and his son always have the coolest bikes and bike accessories!). I emailed with Eric of TowWhee to ask if anyone uses two TowWhees at once because it’s hard for me to do anything with just one kid at a time. Apparently some people use two TowWhees in a train-type orientation, but I was hoping to pull the two kids side-by-side behind me since they often ride side by side and chatter together to begin with.

Taking turns towing the kids with a cargo strap was an interesting experience. It taught me a lot about their different pedaling styles. My older kid is not a very consistent pedaler–which I had already learned from trying to ride our tandem with him once, and towing him was just as hard on me. I feel like we should do more tandem riding to work on our communication with one another, but oof it’s hard going! Meanwhile my little one was a breeze to tow and it was exactly how I had hoped towing would work in that I expended a little bit more energy than normal while he saved a bit of effort. Now that I’m not carrying them everywhere, I can afford to work a little harder and would love to translate that into them working a little less hard so we can go farther, more easily. So still working out the kinks on this idea. The TowWhee is only for use uphill, by the way, and is considered a tool for mountain biking.

Here’s my Strava recording of this year, 2:16 to get there versus last year’s 3:36 less business, more exploring (and doughnut stop) voyage.

The ride home was even more different because my kids deserted me to catch a ride home, gasp! Pixie and I had an extremely pleasant 1:22 ride home towing the two kid bikes and two big pumpkins (a 25-pounder and a nine-and-a-half-pounder).

I wrote about various local pumpkin patches in my weekly BikePortland column: Family Biking: It’s bike-to-pumpkins season! Here’s where to go and the comments section yield some good new ideas if you’re in the market for various places around Portland. I think Fazio Farms is closer to us than Liepold Farms, but it’s not as flat and simple to reach…but I hope to visit it next year if the weather cooperates.