When I changed companies almost three years ago I was faced with a real dilemma about how to make my commute back from downtown. My son had afterschool care at that time that required me to pick him up promptly at 6. If I was late 3 times in a school year he would be kicked out of the daycare. For any parent that has had to find a daycare in the middle of a school year, you will know how stressful this can be and that it is something you want to do everything in your power to avoid.
Given the problem, I felt it was necessary to do some investigation, so I spent a few days measuring a few different methods. I was able to keep a fairly consistent route for all methods and chose to map out: car, public transit, and finally bike. What I found was the motorized methods were highly variable depending on traffic: car took anywhere from 25-45 minutes, public transit anywhere from 45-60 minutes. This was a bit discouraging because of the daycare time cutoff so I was thankful that bike came in at a constant time home from work at about 45 minutes. This was the obvious winner, yay!
Way back in my career I had biked to work fairly reliably in both Calgary and Victoria. That being said this commute was a bit different, my previous commutes had both been under 20-30 minutes and flat. This was a bit more of a challenge, according to strava it had an elevation gain of about 200m (coming home, 75m going to work, downhill, weeeeee) and roughly 11km and change each way. It was a pretty hefty ride after 12 years off. Side note, I am not really a stats person but they are neat to look at. I track my rides (most days…sometimes I forget) because I work for a great company and they donate $1/ mile to the MS Society on my behalf. This is a less manual way to track that, and the side effect is I get some numbers to talk about, awesome!
The first learning I had was that it rains here and it rains a lot. I began in September of 2016 and I had purchased a couple of panniers to hold all my gear. The first thing I learned was that waterproof comes in gradients and you have to be careful of claims in Vancouver. The first few trips I found I needed to pack the important things in my pannier bags inside of a wet bag. By December I discovered that I actually needed 2 wet bags to withstand the weather. I was fortunate that nothing was ruined during the learning process. The other items that you should consider are a good raincoat with pants, good gloves and winter rubber boots.
I am a bit embarrassed to talk about biking, and other things I get excited about, with people sometimes. I am trying hard to get over that and just let it flow but let me explain why that is hard for this case . I am worried that I will make the people that are driving feel like they should be biking…they shouldn’t. They should do whatever the hell they want to do, and I mean that in a nice way. The same way I should just talk about the things that make me happy and be done with it, I am working on that. When I like something though I do tend to get very animated and the people around me get excited.
With that disclaimer aside I do talk about biking a lot. It’s nice to meet a fellow biker in the bike room at work and although I have not tried to recruit people to the biking world (see the disclaimer) I will admit that it makes me happy seeing more and more bikes in our bike room. It’s also nice that the real seasoned cyclists at work (read: not me, I consider myself a hobbyist or amateur) have also advocated for some important necessities like places to dry gloves during the day, bike pumps and some repair kits. I really value these additions, you know who you are, thank you again, publicly. This year during bike to work week we had a full bike room and almost had to park in the hall, really amazing turnout and happy to see!
I also talk about biking a lot at home a lot and, disclaimer aside, I have to admit I have a bit of an agenda here sometimes. My son, for example, hears about it a lot and we’ve shared a lot of joyful biking adventures. We went on an epic bike ride from Burnaby to Science World in 2018 that he talked about until just a couple months ago (when we went on an even more epic bike ride).
My agenda here, as in most things I introduce my son to, is to give him a sample of something that might fill his life with joy and happiness. It doesn’t always stick and that is okay but if it does hopefully we can enjoy doing together and it’s something he can eventually share with his children. He’s been a great student and has shared this joy with the people in his circle at school. At triathlon this year he had already mastered the rolling mount and gave a demo for his fellow classmates, so proud!
The circle has slowly been expanding and I’ve roped in my dear friend Bobie and her children now as well which has really given us some wonderful experiences. We’ve moved from day trips to more extended trips. We are still figuring this out for ourselves and children but a good template we’ve tried is to have a “scouting trip” that we take together such as this trip we made to Vancouver Island on Easter Weekend: http://bit.ly/2WnkkkT. We used this trip to plan some routes, see how the trail was and guage how much the kids would be able to do.
This helped a lot for us to get to know the lay of the land and when we took kids on the next trip it went very smoothly: http://bit.ly/2IdrdeN (les photos sont sans l’enfants). I had hoped that it rained so we could see how the kids, and us, biked in not so good conditions and if they would still enjoy the trip. I got my wish on this trip and we biked for the first day in the pouring rain. I am happy to say it all went well and I am so proud of the 3 kids (my son and Bobie’s two children, not shown) for making the journey fun. Given the success of the trip, we have already planned a couple more for the summer. It’s been amazing to share this experience and I hope that it’s something that our children continue to enjoy when they have children of their own.