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30 Day of Biking – day 6

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

I’m still worn out and my stressed-out kid had another rough night, though not as rough as the night before. Online school started up today and it went well for both kids, hooray. I got out for a ride with Joe to visit his cats. He’s good at going on bike rides for the sake of riding, but I prefer having an errand attached so this kind of fit the bill for me. It still felt extravagant given the Stay Home, Stay Safe order (though I know exercise is encouraged) so I’m still not sure I’ll be able to keep biking daily if I can dream up a suitable reason each day.

Later on there was the usual twosquare on the sidewalk as well as some bonus longboarding. Pixie doesn’t like being left out of anything so to make up for her barking greetings at us nonstop through the window during twosquare we brought her along for the skate. A canvas Trader Joe’s shopping bag makes an excellent chiweenie shoulder bag, btw.

Flashback
On this date in 2014 I led a Kidical Mass family group bike ride in Seattle. My kids were 4 and almost 7 at the time and mostly did their own pedaling, though I always brought my cargo bike in case I needed to carry one or both of them and their bikes. I noted they were becoming stronger pedalers and we didn’t need to stop for water-sip breaks quick as frequently.

2014 Kidical Mass Seattle

2014 was the year we were also tallying dogs we saw while out and about and we saw zero dogs that day. Today we skated by friends walking their big dog with Pixie in the shoulder bag so despite not getting enough sleep and ending the day with a pesky headache it was a banner day, considering.

Today’s miles: 7.6
Total April miles: 33.1

30 Days of Biking – day five

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

After being up half the night with a stressed-out kid I wasn’t up for much of anything today, but we made it out to the schoolyard to play some foursquare. During our last visit we discovered much of the play area was strewn with little pieces of broken glass so I brought our big broom and swept the foursquare court clean.

On this date in 2011 we lived in Seattle but tagged along on a day trip to Portland with my friend Kerri so she could buy a bike like mine. At that point I had a little city bike with front and rear kid seats and though I had never been to Clever Cycles, I knew they’d be able to match her to a bike. She ended up with a terrific little Breezer with front and rear kid seats. Meanwhile, I test rode a longtail for the first time…though I already knew I wanted to eventually upgrade to one before that.

Today’s miles: 2
Total April miles: 25.5

30 Days of Biking 2020 – days three and four

It’s April! That means 30 Days of Biking and biking every day and hopefully blogging about it each day.

I’m still ambivalent about biking for the sake of biking in general and apprehensive about biking right now specifically so I’m not sure I’ll be a good 30 Days of Biking participant this round. Yesterday I made it out to go grocery shopping, but didn’t bother taking any photos or posting about it so it’s clear I won’t be keeping up that end of the bargain.

Today I biked 11 miles round trip to retrieve a package from Bricks & Minifigs–an early birthday present for my 12-year old from his grandfather. Bricks & Minifigs is delivering locally and allowing pick ups. I had hoped to bring the kids with me, but I am feeling extremely worn out today–not too worn out to do the bike ride myself, but too worn out to drag kids on a ride that’s much farther than they normally go. But Pixie and Joe came along so I had company. We saw a lot of other bikes out; also two roller bladers and two one-wheelers.

On this day in 2014 my small pedalers and I biked to Gas Works Park in Seattle. It was their first time going up Kite Hill on pedal bikes, though they’d scooted up on balance bikes and been carried up on my bike before. My then-4-year old on a 16-inch bike had to walk up the switchbacks, but I could tell he’d be pedaling the whole way up before long. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it up that hill today.

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Today’s miles: 11
Yesterday’s miles: 2.4
Total April miles: 23.5

30 Days of Biking 2020 – day two

I’m on a roll! I wasn’t sure I’d make it out on a bike today, but an errand presented itself and saved the day. I didn’t bring the kids along, but they got their exercise via dog walks, twosquare, and a rainy family jog earlier in the day. For the errand, Pixie the chiweenie and I biked to my 7th grader’s English teacher’s house to pick up a couple books from her porch. Online learning starts for Portland Public Schools students next week.

The streets were nice and quiet and it was the first time I’ve seen the parking lot next to Assembly Brewing empty so we stopped to admire the great mural by Ashley Montague.

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Today’s flashback is to April 2, 2015, when we lived in Seattle and the viaduct was still up. The deep-bore tunnel bore, Bertha, had finally been extracted from its long clusterstuck. My older kid used to wear a Blue Angels flight suit every day back then, awww.

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This day in 2015

Today’s miles: 4.8
Total April miles: 10.1

30 Days of Biking 2020 – we’re doing it

When last we “spoke” five days ago (Are you biking during shelter-in-place? Us, not so much) I wasn’t sure I was up for biking more than the bare minimum (groceries every couple weeks), but I hoped that writing about it would inspire me to get out daily. No promises, but I think it worked. The kids and I definitely need to get outdoors more; we’re playing quite a bit of foursquare on the sidewalk right outside, but it’s not enough. So hopefully we can take some small yet adventurous rides for 30 Days of Biking.

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Today we biked to my 10-year old’s elementary school to play foursquare in a marked court. There were several other families around, keeping their distance from one another, so that was a pleasant sight.

We took a circuitous route home and discovered a bike tower near school!

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Since it’s the 10th year of 30 Days of Biking, I thought it’d be fun to highlight a past day-in-common each time I post. Today I’m flashing back to the first day of our first 30 Days of Biking 10 years ago when the kids were 3 and 1. We took a 1-mile ride to the grocery store. My rear kid normally held the groceries for me, but he was full up with a banana in one hand and a leafy branch in the other so I tucked the groceries in my ring sling and wore them like a baby, ha.

First 30 Days of Biking ride

Our first 30 Days of Biking ride 10 years ago!

Today’s miles: 5.3
Total April miles: 5.3

Are you biking during shelter-in-place? Us, not so much

Virtual high fives and hugs to all. I hope you’re faring OK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon is under a Stay Home, Save Lives” order as of Monday, but I haven’t worked since the 15th. (However, my company has just started a bike-based service delivering locally-roasted coffee if you’re in the Portland area!!)

Portland is home to some of the mellowest drivers in America, but already a couple weeks ago I noticed that while there were fewer people out in their cars, those that I saw were driving faster than usual and more erratically. I’ve read on Twitter that people on bikes in other cities are experiencing this, too.

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Wednesday’s grocery run (no toilet paper to be found, though)

But that’s not why we haven’t gotten on our bikes. I love bicycling and it usually keeps me happy and healthy, but I get that fix through transportational cycling–getting from point A to B. With points A and B both being home, very few errands, and no kid activities to get to, there’s nowhere to go. We’re allowed to bike still, but other than getting groceries a couple days ago I haven’t been on my bike. Even though we of Team Family Ride are not getting out on bikes regularly, there are a lot of other people still commuting to essential jobs, running errands, and biking just for the sake of biking.

Before the Stay Home order we were walking to the park near our house, but now we’re staying even closer to home, spending time in our yard and playing two square on the sidewalk, but otherwise staying indoors getting our exercise from P.E. with Joe and Cosmic Kids Yoga.

Do you find yourself able to get out on your bike for recreational purposes (or essential errands) without it adding to your anxiety? Here’s a nice article on Bicycling.com: How to Ride Safely Amid Coronavirus Concerns if you’ve been pondering it. Portland parks bureau just banned driving in 10 parks to create more room for social distancing while walking and biking which is great. My kids have never biked to the top of Mt. Tabor so I’m toying with the idea of taking advantage of the quiet roads and getting them active doing that. Maybe. Staying home is taking a toll on our moods and adding a daily bike ride would probably help that, though it does increase our risk of exposure.

30 Days of Biking

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Banking by bike during 30 Days of Biking ten years ago

If I can get myself comfortable with the idea of spending time outside biking, I’ll be able to participate in 30 Days of Biking (“pledge to ride your bike every day in April–any distance, any destination–and share your adventures online”) starting April 1st. It feels silly to worry about a virtual bike game, but it’s long been a favorite event of mine and I credit it for turning me into an everyday bicyclist. Over the years I’ve enjoyed getting out on my bike every day of the month for 30 Days of Biking, even when it’s sometimes been just for the sake of getting out on my bike and not for an errand or work. But I’m not sure I’ve got it in me right now. This year so many events are postponing and 30 Days of Biking is no different, adding a second round in September just like they used to have the first few years of the project. So I have that to look forward to if biking beyond the bare minimum in April doesn’t pan out. However, I’m hoping having written about it will bolster me. We’ll soon see.

Bikepacking with Oregon Field Guide

Maria Schur, a.k.a. Bicycle Kitty and I were on TV biking to the coast in the most recent episode of OPB’s Oregon Field Guide:

We’re at the 12:42 minute mark of the full episode: Oregon Field Guide episode 3109: Losing Our Dark Skies, Bikepacking, Willamette Valley Photo Essay and just our 10:54 segment is on YouTube: OPB: Bikepacking Their Way From Portland To The Coast.

How this came to be…or “never say never.” Elle and I had fun riding to the Oregon coast via the Trask Trail two summers ago, but it was the hardest bike ride I’ve taken and I hadn’t planned to ever repeat it. However, the allure of promoting bicycling for transportation is strong for me so when Oregon Public Broadcasting reached out (after having read my “When moms escape: Tackling the unpaved Trask River Road route to the coast” article on BikePortland.org), I couldn’t say no! It didn’t necessarily have to be a repeat of the Trask Trail to the coast, but they wanted to feature bikepacking and it’s really the simplest route from Portland I can think of, even though simplest has nothing to do with easy in this case.

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I didn’t take as many photos this time, but here’s my Flickr album of 90 with captions: Trask Trail 2019.

Maria created Ride with GPS routes for the two days heading west: OFG day 1 and OFG day 2.

I didn’t record after lunch on the first day, the beginning part of day three, nor the eight miles to and from the MAX, but here are my Stravas:
Day One: 7/27 – 24.21 miles
Day Two: 7/28 – 41.15 miles
Day Three: 7/29 – 55.24 miles

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I’m happy to report that I did all the items on my notes-to-self list from my last trip:

  • Hit the road much earlier, say 6am instead of 10am
  • Bike downtown to catch the MAX rather than Gateway (takes the same 35 minutes and shaves 30 minutes off the train trip!)
  • Spread my load over four panniers instead of just two
  • Vary my tire pressure–max for paved sections, low for gravel
  • Book a campsite at Trask River County Campground ahead of time
  • Filter water along the way rather than be stubborn/lazy and get thirsty

New this time was that we identified the freecamping spot on the Oregon Bikepacking webpage and didn’t need to stay at the crowded Trask River County Campground. It was quiet, secluded, and had a great view of the valley. It wasn’t as far along the route as the campground–37 miles from the Hillsboro MAX station rather than 50, but it was still far enough to break up the trip nicely.

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Surprisingly, travelling with the small film crew didn’t really change the feel of the trip. Initially they warned us we’d probably have to back up and recreate shots so they could capture everything, but they soon realized they could capture things fine while we went about our trip. I’d like to think that was because Maria and I were so eloquent on our hidden mic’s and so easy to capture on film. We paused to interact with the crew many times during the course of the day, but even so we mostly kept to a normal pace. Three days condensed into 10 minutes didn’t show everything about the trip, but it certainly hit all the major points.

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Cape Lookout State Park was even better than last time–now there are fancy lockers at the hiker/biker sites with outlets! I didn’t bring a lock, but a safer person could lock up a charging phone and Garmin and go play at the beach.

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In not-so-good news I learned from a park ranger on Monday morning that little dogs shouldn’t be loose on the beach because a hawk keeps an eye out for tasty little canine snacks. Pixie lives thanks to the warning, but a couple chihuahuas had been swept up a week earlier.

For Monday we had initially considered coming back along Nestucca River Road, which Maria had done before, but I had not. We ended up not feeling we had time for 79 hilly gravelly miles, but here’s Maria’s Ride with GPS route for future reference.

After finishing up with interviews Maria caught a ride with the crew to get back to Portland quickly and I did my usual (I’m a regular now, having done this twice) and took Highway 6 home which I find pleasant enough on a non-holiday Monday, but wouldn’t want to be on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

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Why don’t I ride my e-bike more?

I’ve been awarded a wonderful opportunity to borrow an Urban Arrow electric-assist bakfiets for an extended amount of time, of which a few months have elapsed. I’ve always loved bakfietsen (also known as longjohns, frontloaders, and box bikes) and have several times rented them when visiting flat cities before e-assisted versions were common. Getting my hands and feet on one that’s spacious enough and powered enough to carry my two big kids is simply awesome! However, I don’t ride it exclusively and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Thanks to @stuuart for recently asking me about this on Twitter:

What a great question! I feel a bit silly that I hadn’t considered this before, but I’ve taken some time to put significant thought into the matter–both while using and while avoiding this wonderful bike. Here are my ranked numerous–but minor–reasons.

1. It’s heavy. Yes, it has a motor that counteracts (and then some!) the weight of the bike while rolling along, but most people end up needing to maneuver their bikes while not rolling quite a bit. The Urban Arrow weighs 112 pounds. My Big Dummy isn’t light at 75 pounds, but that’s a significant difference, plus I’m used to its weight distribution and am fairly good at lifting parts of it to move it around without hurting my back. Granted that wasn’t always the case: graduating from a mere 50-pound bike of regular length that I could easily move around while the kids were seated on it (one at the front and one at the back, so their weight was nicely distributed) I spent my first couple months of Big Dummy ownership with an aching back as I got used to not being able to lift and redirect the tail of the bike while the kids both sat upon it. So perhaps I could get used to the weight of the Urban Arrow if only I would use it more often. As it is, to get the bike inside at work I awkwardly move hand over hand to the front of the bike to lift the nose wheel up the curb, then paw my way back to the rear rack and lift the back of the bike up the curb while shoving it forward through the door.

It’s not awful lifting the bike up this curb, but it’s not fun.

At home I have a makeshift ramp up the shallow steps to my back door, but I still need to lift the rear of the bike just an inch or so to prevent the bottom bracket from scraping. I can usually get the bike out of the house with just one of the French doors open, but I often have to open the second door (which requires bending down to undo one latch and stretching up to undo the other) to get it back inside. Not the biggest inconvenience, but it’s an additional step I don’t need to do with my Big Dummy and all these things add up to sometimes irritate my bad back.

I know a cargo biking mom who took up weight lifting to increase her strength and ensure she could keep riding her longtail as her kids got heavier. I have yet to prioritize time to any exercise outside of bike commuting, but I really like this strategy in theory.

I know another cargo biking mom whose bakfiets was stolen. When I heard her lamenting the weight of her bike I mistakenly thought she’d replaced her cargo bike and I’d missed the announcement. But no, she was talking about her folding bike she’d been making do with for all trips. “Totable” folding bikes can require a lot of carrying around–something she didn’t need to do with her bakfiets, obviously. We don’t always appreciate how much bike lifting goes with certain bikes or certain circumstances. I have a folding bike and I need to be in the right mood (free of back pain, sufficiently rested) to want to take it along on transit where I know I’ll be lifting and carrying it a lot. It’s extremely convenient and I love having it, but it’s heavy–not only in actual pounds (it’s 30 pounds) but also because I need to lift and carry it a lot.

This isn’t a direct correlation, but it’s a good “note to self” that I could very well get used to the Urban Arrow’s weight and heftitude: I used to think if I had Pixie before my Big Dummy I would have bought a dog-specific basket. Or at least a deeper basket. I felt this way for a couple years before realizing the existing shallow basket works well enough. I’ll consider myself adapted to the Urban Arrow’s weight once I stop complaining about it. Last week I brought the UA to work, assuming I’d use it to tote my 12-year old to a doctor’s appointment, but when our schedule changing I stomped my foot and whined, “I could have taken a lighter bike today!” I’m clearly not very far along the road of getting used to its weight yet.

2. I love riding my Big Dummy. We’ve lived here two and a half years now, but it’s still a novel treat to live in a neighborhood and city I can easily enough get everywhere with my beast of a bike. When I lived in Seattle (in “a neighborhood on the side of a cliff” according to a friend from a slightly less hilly neighborhood) I always took a regular bike if I was making a trip without my little passengers. I never understood why Seattle friends with cargo bikes took their big, heavy bikes when they didn’t need to. I’m still not sure why Seattle dwellers do that, but here in a flat part of Portland I love taking my comfy, familiar cargo bike on every excursion–because you never know when you might need to carry something big that won’t fit easily on a regular bike.

3. I’m used to being very slow. Everyone passes me when I’m on my Big Dummy–even when I’ve got absolutely no cargo on board. But I’m used to it. I like being slow enough to notice things I’d miss if I were going faster and I’m good about giving myself sufficient time to get places at my slow pace. And if I really really need to hurry I can usually pick up the pace a bit, even on my heavy bike. On the other hand, it’s a treat to get places 10 minutes early when I ride the Urban Arrow! Or to take an extra 10 minutes before leaving. Sometimes I take my road bike to work instead of my Big Dummy and it’s the same feeling. I enjoy being fast from time to time, but it’s not a daily craving for me like it is for some. I’m happy to putter along.

Apparently the Urban Arrow is a “slow” e-cargo bike, according to a friend who owns a different e-bakfiets and has more experience than I with the various e-bakfietsen on the market. Obviously that makes it the perfect e-bakfiets for me! Having used the same Bosch assist when borrowing the Surly Big Easy, I can say that the Big Easy longtail is much zippier. I chalked that up to the different geometry of the bike–the Big Easy is a mountain bike with the rider canted slightly forward while the Urban Arrow has a cranks (feet)-forward position putting the rider completely upright. It’s very stately! And fast. But apparently not fast-fast.

4. I’m better at loading big things in the Big Dummy. This is another thing that would surely change with practice, but while box bikes like the Urban Arrow are wonderful for tossing in bag after bag of groceries, longtails like my Big Dummy are excellent at carrying bikes and other long objects. I’ve been able to carry one kid and his bike with the Urban Arrow by laying the bike across the unoccupied part of the box, but it’s wide. I found the door I’m using as a bike ramp while on my Big Dummy and I can’t imagine having carried that with the Urban Arrow. I haven’t taken to carrying cargo straps with the Urban Arrow so I’m not really giving it a chance as a big-stuff hauler.

On person’s abandoned door is another person’s bike ramp!

5. It’s fancy and it’s not mine. I’m always nervous locking up or dinging a new bike. I feel an additional layer of nervousness with the Urban Arrow since I’m simply borrowing it. I think I’m using it enough to be a good ambassador even so, but I cannot bring myself to take it anywhere I’ll need to leave it locked up outside for hours. Fortunately it can stay indoors at home and at the office and there are lots of other places I can take it and not need to leave it unattended for an amount of time that will make me nervous.

6. I still get a bit range anxiety. It’s not as bad as it was in the beginning, but it’s one more thing to think about. I’m not used to plugging in my bike and often don’t bother plugging it in unless I know for a fact I’ll be using it in a few hours. This left me with an almost dead battery and a sick kid to fetch from a canceled sleepover…nearby, but down a big hill. (I left the motor off to get to him and used it at Eco/lowest mode on the way home and ran out of juice at the top of the hill, phew. But I felt bad that it took me an extra couple minutes to get to my sick kid and then an extra handful of minutes to get him home, all because I’m not good about plugging in.) For most people range anxiety all but goes away after living with an e-bike for a short time. That said, every so often I’m surprised to hear a long-time e-biking friend fret about battery life.

0. I’m worried about getting spoiled/e-bikes are cheating. This one doesn’t get a real place in my numbered list because E-BIKES AREN’T CHEATING so it’s not one of my reasons. However, enough people tease that e-bikes are cheating that it always bears addressing. And I’ve heard lots of people voice concern that they’ll get spoiled when considering getting e-bikes. While I love switching to turbo mode (the most powerful of the four modes) to charge up big hills, I don’t think it’s left me spoiled. I also love using the e-bike to carry both kids far distances, nor has that spoiled me. E-bikes are amazing and fun and zippy, but they’re still bikes. When I’ve stupidly set out without enough battery, I can still pedal the bike once there’s no more juice. I can also choose flatter routes if I’m on a regular bike. Someone with the mindset that e-bikes are cheating isn’t going to change their mind based on my shared experience, but I love adding more biking to our lives by replacing long transit trips. I picked my kids up at the airport (14 miles away) on New Years Day. It was cheaper, quicker, and funner than using the light rail and the bus–which would be my other method of picking them up since I would never carry them all that distance on my Big Dummy or expect them to ride their own bikes (even in the middle of the day in nice weather…which it wasn’t) that distance. Other people are replacing car trips with this sort of trip and that’s the real game-changing awesomeness e-cargo bike create. Now that e-bikes have been around for a bit and lots of data is available, there are oodles of easy-to-find articles with better ammunition than my anecdotes enumerating how much more people bike when they switch to e-bikes.

Bundled up with food and dog for a long ride home from the airport.

I really wish I could find the link to a video I saw a long time (eight, ten years?) ago of a former professional cyclist (maybe mountain biking?) who carried her kids around with an e-assist cargo trike. I was confused at first because obviously this woman was strong enough that she didn’t need a motor. But that’s the thing: you don’t need to need a motor to make very good use of one. While I’ve never thought e-bikes were cheating, it’s taken me a long time (until writing this, in fact) to coalesce my thinking on the matter in regards to people like this cool mom. It’s easy to see how wonderful e-bikes are for people who couldn’t otherwise bike where they need to go or carry what they need to carry, but they’re also wonderful for people who can get by with non-electric bikes.

Has the Urban Arrow spurred any changes to our lives? Heck yes! I consider myself lucky that my kids don’t have a lot of activities and interests far from home and at weird hours. But I signed my middle schooler up for an after-school class that’s close to home but far from school with a very short window to get him there. I never would have done that without the Urban Arrow. As it is, we arrive a few minutes late, but in checking with the organizer I learned that was OK with them as well as OK in terms of my kid not missing valuable intro time or activity time. I’m not sure what we’ll do about the program once we’re not using the Urban Arrow anymore. Possibly carpool with a family coming from the same school…but we all like avoiding using cars. The next fastest choice would be for he and I to ride our tandem bike, which I’d like to make part of our regular repertoire in general, but it’s going to take a lot of practice and possibly some knee pain on my part (he’s not the most consistent pedaler). But for now, he loves his class and I love being able to carry him there quickly with the Urban Arrow.

Off hours arterial riding is fun!

I’ve got a new habit (as of yesterday): on weekends I take advantage of sparse traffic and ride certain arterials (a.k.a. busy streets) on the way to work.

The dream started one day over a year ago when I turned south early to avoid construction. I arrived to SE Powell Boulevard–two lanes in either direction with center turn lane to keep everyone driving fast, speed limit 35 mph. I had planned to cross the street at the closest light I could find, but looking beyond the wide street I noticed the street I was on dipped down in elevation. I was loathe to lose altitude (I was on my Big Dummy, though not carrying any extra weight, but still) so instead I stayed on Powell’s sidewalk and continued eastward. It’s a loud and busy street which makes it unpleasant to walk along so I didn’t see any people on foot during my 30-block journey. But I did see lots of cool things! I realized I’d never even seen Powell through a bus window (my usual way to see what’s on an arterial) so this was all new. I was excited to see a bowling alley (though now it’s a Target store), a family-friendly brewery, and cool murals. As I often do, I thought of the Netherlands where there’s space for people on bikes both on quiet streets and busy streets–because, duh, that’s where people need to get by bike. Planning for transportational bicycling and not just recreational makes for such a different and more robust bike-friendly network.

I’ll never ride in the street on Powell (except for one very short block I make use of that I mentioned on BikePortland: Family Biking: Intersections are scary, until you wiggle around them), but yesterday and today I enjoyed zooming down Division (speed limit 25mph) and I might add some other regulars to my weekend morning repertoire.

Gorgeous mural by N.O. Bonzo on the side of Oregon Theatre on Division

On weekends I can already leave home five minutes later thanks to significantly less traffic meaning shorter light cycles for the many stop lights I hit. But looking at it from a different perspective, the dearth of traffic at 7:30am on a weekend means the big roads that don’t have stop signs every other block are pretty much deserted. I want to know our arterials better. I tend to confuse the east-west streets I avoid–Hawthorne, Division, Belmont (in fact, I thought I was listing them in order just now and I see I’m not)–and which one houses which cool businesses. I never know landmarks friends refer to on arterials. Not that this as all ended as of this weekend, but at least I’m going to get a handle on Division. I’ll explore extending the zippy section of my commute, but this weekend I’ve stuck to my usual greenway route along Clinton just until crossing the light of Cesar Chavez and then I head north a block to Division. Division is at a slight downhill here so even though it’s only one lane in each direction, I can pretty well keep up with traffic if I encounter any. And I can get a sense of where Pok Pok is in relation to Salt & Straw and Bollywood Theater and see street art I’d otherwise miss.

Mural by GATS PTV on the side of the Oregon Theatre

I’d imagine this is similar to people on e-bikes being able to keep up with traffic on streets they previously avoided. I was on my zippy road bike today so I continued along Division even after it flattened out and then used another arterial (12th, 25mph) to head north. I wouldn’t do that on a slower bike nor on a weekday, but I can see how an e-bike would make those situations that much more comfortable.

If you’re curious about looking up speed limits in Portland, PBOT has this great interactive map: Current speed limits on Portland streets map. I used it for this post.

Do you similarly ride arterials sometimes? Or feel like you’re missing out in the same way I do needing to steer clear of such busy and fast but exciting streets?

Happy Eighth Birthday, Big Dummy!

First a confession: for the first time in eight years I didn’t ride my Big Dummy on its birthday! I have a cold and I got out the door five minutes later than planned so I rode the e-bike* we’re borrowing instead. But the Big Dummy is still my favorite bike of all time and gets a lot of action.

Here are a few of the fun things the Big Dummy got to do this year:

1) I learned I can still carry both kids, but it’s not easy now that they outweigh me.

2) Surly Bikes let me borrow the new e-assisted version of the Big Dummy, the Big Easy. It was fun! Obvs I hauled it around with my Big Dummy. I wrote about my first impressions and a full review over on BikePortland.

3) I carried camping gear (but the kids rode their own bikes) to a new-to-us campground, Oxbow Regional Park. We led the Kidical Mass PDX group so we had lots of company…as well as vehicle support for getting up the huge hill upon leaving the campground. My younger son opted for a lift in the truck up the hill, but my older son was game to ride up so I loaded my heavier gear into the truck trailer and we slowly crawled our way up. And we’d do it again! The only bummer about this campground is we couldn’t bring the dog. Here’s my review of the trip for BikePortland.

4) MOTHERLOAD, “a crowdsourced documentary about how cargo bikes will save the world,” is out! And my Big Dummy is in it several times. I rode my Big Dummy to the Portland showing in July.

5) Working full time means I don’t bike with the kids these days–one rides to and from elementary school on his own and the other rides the school bus to and from middle school. I usually ride the Big Dummy to and from work, but don’t use it at work (leading biking, walking, and hiking tours for Around Portland Tours). However, every so often I do use it for work, like my recent tour guest who needed to rush to the airport after our tour and was game to have me tote her luggage with us so she could take the MAX to PDX near the end of our ten-mile loop through town rather than call for an uber after the tour. And then I towed the extra bike back to the office from the MAX station. So fun!

Happy happy!

* The e-bike we’re borrowing is an Urban Arrow and it’s awesome! Here’s my review of it on BikePortland.

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