Cycling with a kid

Cycling has always been an important part of our lives. Before Oliver, Tanya and I would ride a lot. This all started to change when Tanya was pregnant. With Oli on the way, riding a bicycle became more difficult for her and long multi-day rides were out of the question. This was our summer of 2012.

In 2013 we hardly cycled, and we knew this would happen. You can’t really cycle with an infant and we didn’t. In the fall of 2013, my parents bought him a Bobike City Mini (handle bar mounted bike seat) which we tried a few times, but ultimately Oliver still needed to grow into it.

One of our first rides in 2014.

2014 is the year we took to our bicycles. Oli was the perfect size for the Bobike seat. In the spring we started to take small trips around town. Then I started to pick up Oliver from daycare on the bike. We were hooked, a way to ride to work, pick up Oli and get exercise. We then tried cyclo-camping and we were having a blast.

On the ride home from daycare.

The Bobike City Mini

Oli lives to ride. Sitting on the front of the bike he likes to point out the things that he sees. He get excited about cars, trucks, bikes and dogs. Although a little uncomfortable for the me, the handlebar mounted seat does an amazing job at keep Oli in the action. The trick with riding a bike with a handlebar mounted seat is to slow down and enjoy the ride. Lower your seat and submit to the scenery, take your time and ride a little bow-legged.

Riding on the Galloping Goose trail headed downtown.

The one issue with the front mounted seat is naps. There isn’t the support that the trailer has, so you have ride with a floppy kid in front of you. This happened for the first time this weekend, he would flop around, first off my right forearms, then head back on my chest, off to the left and finally forward. If a kid needs sleep, he get it, as uncomfortable as it might look.

Oliver, fast asleep while on a ride.

Bicycle trailer

For cyclo-camping, we bought a used chariot to tow behind us. It works great for longer trips, you can store gear in the trailer, keep Oliver out of direct sun light and let your child have a somewhat normal nap (at least compared to the handlebar mounted seat). I think Oliver likes the front mounted seat the best, but for longer trips, the trailer is the best.

Stopping for a photo at Langford on our way to Goldstream.

One of the great advantages of the trailer is that you can ride a bicycle normally. There is no Bobike seat to hit your knees on and you can push yourself to catch a ferry or to get home as quickly as possible.

Back on the saddle

It is nice to have a focus on the cycling again, I am hoping that we will continue to focus on our bicycles in the future. As Oliver grows from a toddler to the next stage, our needs from our bicycle will change and I am looking forward to it.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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Family Visit

A photo of us getting ready for a shot. I find that the photos taken just before a posed shot look more interesting than the posed shot. This shot is alive, fully of action and expression; it is so much nicer than the actual composed shot.

This park is a hidden gem in Victoria. It is called summit park, it has a great view looking north and is really accessible. It would be great to see the sun setting from the top of this park.

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Tanya on the Beach

Hanging out on the beach, enjoying the sun.

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Sooke Potholes

Ever since moving to the Island I have heard people rave out the amazing Sooke Potholes. We decided to check it out when my sister was in town. I am told that the Sooke potholes have an amazing geological feature that resemble potholes in the river bed. We never got to see them (if you have kids, you know what it is like and sometimes any beach is better than walking another 100m).

We arrived early, got a parking spot and walked up the road. There were a number of beaches a long the way, but the cool pothole feature was a long ways up the trail, so we settled at this location on the Sooke river.

The water was refreshing, and everyone had a great time. I want to go back to see the actual potholes, but that will take a bit more effort.

Heading out for the day at the beach

We are blessed to live in Victoria. Within a short drive there are so many beaches and fun things to do in the summer. My sister was in town a couple of weeks ago and she loves the beach. Oliver also loves the beach. It is a no brainer way to spend the weekend at the beach.

This is us as we head out for the day. We have everything. We need, swim gear, food, the carrier (called an ergo) and Oliver. Oliver also brought this pool noodle, which never made to the beach.

Man snack

Oli gets a man snack, something fast, easy and really tasty. Smoked salmon (caught and smoked by my parents), blueberries (pick by us), avocado and crackers. He loved it.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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The Fuji x100s

This week I bought a new camera. We didn’t need a new camera, our Rebel T2i works great and is only 3 years old. But it is a DSLR and with the amount of camping and cycle trips that we have been doing, we started to think about getting a smaller mirrorless camera.

Early in the morning, the Fuji camera takes amazing shots, even with the black and white setting.

Mirrorless cameras

Mirrorless cameras are the next evolution I the DSLR. Camera technology as matured a lot in the past decade and cameras are starting to shrink. The mirrorless camera create DSLR quality shots in the size of a large point and shoot body. Just like DSLRs, you can buy into a system of lenses and change them.

Tanya excited about coffee in the morning.

The Fuji X100s

The camera I bought is a Fuji X100s, which isn’t technically a mirrorless camera but has many of the same characteristics and internals of a mirrorless camera. The lens is fixed, which means that I can’t change it. At first, I saw this as a disadvantage, a fixed lens would limit my options for the photo that I can take.

Amazing detail in low light.

I thought I would regret not being able to change my lens to a different focal length. Then I thought about it for a while

  • I never change the lens on my Cannon DSLR, it always has the kit lens on it even though I have a more interesting and better quality fixed lens
  • Lenses are expensive, I can’t afford too many other lenses unless I am will to give change my lifestyle, like give up drinking beer (and that isn’t going to happen any time soon)
  • Most of the reviews I read about this camera said they loved that the lens was fixed
  • The lens that Fuji paired with the X100s is a great a lens and is perfectly tuned to this camera

The other issue I originally had with this camera is the lack of zoom feature. It is nice to have the flexibility to zoom for a shot. I started to think of how much I enjoyed using my Pentax istDL with a 50mm fixed lens. Sure zoom is nice, but it isn’t required. Plus fixed focal lenses (aka prime lenses) take better shots.

Taken after the sun had set. This is when I realized how well this camera works in low light.

Retro look

There is a growing trend in cameras to go towards a retro look. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it. The retro look puts a whole new spin on the camera and affects the experience of taking photos. The old-school viewfinder is fun, the controls are all in a logical location and the build quality is what you would expect from a camera from the 70s (good and solid with lots of mechanical switches). This camera is far from retro though. With a large screen on the back and all the things you would expect from a modern digital camera.

The view from the top, keep the tradition of retro cameras and physical controls of the camera settings.

First impressions

I’ve owned the camera for a couple of days now and I love it. I don’t miss the zoom, I don’t want to change the lens and I love shooting photos with this camera. I find that this camera works great in low light situations, like when the sun is setting or inside a dim restaurant. There is something with the way it processes the images that it just rocks.

The Johnson street bridge at night.

It is hard to take amazing photos in the middle of a sunny day with any camera, and the X100s is no different, the harsh light makes it hard to take photos and I have found the DSLR slightly more enjoyable taking mid-day photos but the quality of photos is similar.

Victoria’s inner harbour at night.

Autofocus is another area that the DSLR is a bit better. DSLRs use a different technology for autofocus, which is currently better and faster at focusing the lens, but not by that much. The real questions is the impact of the reduced autofocus capability. Anecdotally I would say I loose 3–7% more photos due to out of focus shots with the X100s than my T2i. However, if I shoot the T2i with live view (though the big lcd screen on the back), the X100s is way faster at focusing. There are a couple of neat manual focus features that give you options when autofocus becomes an issue.

Tanya and I posing for a photo.

This camera rocks in low light. This is where you can see the quality of the lens and sensor. Low light shots taken at ISO 800, 1600 or 3200 look amazing.

Me posing for a shot.

The lens also looks great, in all conditions. I love the bokeh you get with it.

No more photos dad! Taking photos on full auto, just amazing.

The X100s is a great camera and I love using it. The smaller size of the camera means that I will bring it along when I wouldn’t otherwise bring my DSLR. I am looking forward to using this camera in the future.

Posted from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
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Camping on Sidney Island

Sidney Island is an amazing place to visit, with many beaches and a spit, the island is definitely worth a visit. The northern part of the island is protected by the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

Walking around Sidney Spit

Getting there

From the boat on the way to the island. It looks like it is going to be a good weekend.

The Apline group runs a water taxi that takes passengers to the island. There are no roads or cars but there is a well developed network of hard packed pathways. There are a lot of sandy beaches, a day use area with picnic tables, a campground with pit toilets and a forested section. The water taxi is about $20 per person for a return trip. Since there are no cars on the island, you can only what you can carry. I would imagine the lack of car access and the cost of ferry limits the number of visitors that are willing to make the trip.The low numbers makes for a very enjoyable, chilled out experience, especially if you are camping.

I was glad to see these wheel barrow here. I was expecting smaller one with one wheel.

Luckily, there are a few large wheel barrows to help move your gear from the dock to the campsite. You can pack a lot of stuff into these wheel barrows and I wish I knew that before we left Sidney. We packed light thinking that the transportation situation would be worse on Sidney Island, you could easily bring a cooler.

Oliver loves things with wheels, cars, bikes, trucks and wheel barrows.

The beaches

There are many beaches on Sidney island. We did go to every beach, but the beaches that we did go were covered in sand and were really enjoyable. Oliver had fun with buckets and shovels and we enjoyed watching him play.

What happens if I cover mom with sand?

The spit itself is nothing short of amazing. During low tide you can walk the full length of the spit, which is longer than a kilometre. The weather was great and we enjoyed walking down the spit.

Walking down the spit at low tide, feels like you go walk forever.

Peaceful Evenings, beautiful mornings

The evenings at the campground were very quiet. There are about 10 campsites and everyone that was camping there was quiet. After Oliver was asleep, Tanya and I enjoyed the peacefulness and watched the sun going down.

The boats moored in the distance.

In the morning we did our usual camping routine and then we headed to a nearby beach to eat breakfast and enjoy our coffee in the morning sun while Oliver played in the sand.

Oliver doing his thing.

Great place to camp

We enjoyed camping on Sidney Island. The close proximity to beaches and the beauty of the island make this a wonderful place to camp.

Another view of the spit and the algae that grows on parts of the beach.

Posted from Sidney, British Columbia, Canada
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The Vic Food Truck Festival

We don’t get out much, but it is Friday, we don’t have anything to make dinner, it is sunny and there is a food truck festival.

We got in our bikes and headed over. And it was good. Tanya had tacos, I had a po-boy, Oliver had a little of both.

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Cycling from Victoria to Bamberton

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Bamberton is a provincial campsite on the other side of the Malahat. The Malahat is one of the roads I will avoid on a bicycle at all costs. Luckily there is a ferry that goes from Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay, which is what we took to get to avoid rising on the Malahat. We arranged to camp with my folks for the night, we brought the grand kid and they brought the food, the BBQ and the beer.

The Brentwood Bay ferry

The ride to the ferry terminal in Brentwood Bay is nice and enjoyable. Most of the ride is along the galloping goose (actually the Lockside trail). After nearly 18 km on the Lockside trail you turn left and head west across the Saanich Peninsula.

The Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay Ferry, very tight

This is when the cycling becomes less enjoyable, but it is still fun. There are a couple of hills, in the next 3km you will climb 60m and then you will have a nice dement to the ferry. During this leg of the trip you will no longer have a dedicated (or nearly dedicated) bike route like on the Lochside Trail. Some of the roads are lacking a shoulder but the traffic was willing to accommodate is and it was still enjoyable.

Looking at Brentwood Bay

The best part about riding a bike on a ferry is bikes load first. You get to fly by all the waiting cars and show up minutes before the ferry docks (as we did) and you will still get on. We passed the long line of cars and watched the ferry dock.

The view looking north, from the ferry.

We cut this section really close. We left Fol Epi at 9:30 and got to the ferry, 23 km away at 10:45. We wanted to catch the ferry so we pushes ourselves the whole way, which was tough as we were both fully loaded. The reward was getting to the ferry terminal in perfect time.

The Ferry

The Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay ferry is small and charming. Enough room for a handfuls of cars, this ferry has to be the smallest ferry I have ever been on. The views are amazing and in the beautiful weather, this was a great trip to Mill Bay.

The last leg

We got of the ferry and started to ride the last 2km to our campsite. There is a big hill in that 2km and we climbed 106m of elevation. We pushed ourselves to get to the ferry, we were hungry and this last hill was very tough for us with our fully loaded bicycles. About 3/4 of the way up my parents passes us in their truck and camper. They offered to take our panniers to lighten the load.

What a huge difference no bags make, I still had the trailer with Oli, but the bike still felt much lighter. We rolled into the campsite around 12 noon and had lunch.

The campsite and beach

Bamberton is a nice campsite. Trees protect you from the mid day heat and we were sufficiently away from the highway that I don’t remember hearing it at all.

Oli loves camping and watermelon. His grandparents brought him a chair to sit in as well.

The beach is a bit of a hike down a wide gravel path. The walk was nice but walking up it wouldn’t be. I wouldn’t take my bike down there either, it is a big climb from the beach back to the campsite.

Grandma and Oli at the beach.

The tiered beach was nice and there are many picnic tables and trees to provide shade to escape the heat.

Path to the beach.

Oli loved playing in the water and I think his grandmother enjoyed ever minute of it as well.

A great experience

Tanya and I don’t typically camp in a group, but this year half of our trips are with another couple. This time with my parents was great fun. We were ale to hand off Oliver to the grandparents and have a little break from running after him. My parents brought a truck and camper which brought other luxuries as well: a fridge, a BBQ and a nice breakfast.

Grandpa, Grandma and Oliver handing out at the campsite.

The campsite is nice and getting there by bicycle is totally doable (just remember about that last hill before you get there). This could serve as a great spot to rest before heading up island further. The Cowichan Valley is a great place to cycle and this would be a perfect spot to spend the night on an extended island tour.

All ready for our ride home.