Thursday, 16 October 2014

Rain Gear for Biking

I'm not one to buy cycling-specific gear unless there is a need for it. I like to have appropriate clothes for the task at hand, and sometimes I am caught off-guard by unpredicted weather or an extended park play. Here's an overview of what we use for being outside in the fall and how we've made it work for our everyday biking.


 Last autumn, I biked in the rain by avoiding the rain! I had the best of luck and would often catch a break from the celestial downpours. But this autumn, things are a little different. The kids are older and more aware of the weather. They want to play in the rain so they can use their umbrellas to keep their faces dry, and they want to use their rain wear to make the biggest splashes in the deepest puddles. That means I can't avoid the rain unless I bring a massive tent with me wherever we go.

On our way home from the fire hall's open house, we stopped by a playground for some puddle jumping. There had been a monsoon-type rainfall earlier in the day, and though the sun dried up the shallowest puddles, JahJ managed to find a good one. I was very happy to find out that his OakiWear rain pants are waterproof! They are a straight leg with an elastic waistband and a button for a tighter fit. There is some velcro at the bottom to adjust the width of the leg, unlike the tight elastic of his previous MEC rain pants. I scored his rain jacket from UsedVictoria, but this size is shorter than than the size 4 jacket he's passed on to his sister.

I need to find a solution to protect my face from the torrents. Granted they don't happen frequently, it's still inconvenient to be dry and warm all over except my face. The other night we went for a ride around town to fetch wine and crackers for a quiet night in. I have learned to bring all the rain wear when we leave home, because we often experience several types of weather in a typical autumnal day. Sure enough, the skies opened and mist turned to sprinkle turned to medium-heavy rain. I wasn't wearing my Bogs boots, so I was a little chilly around my ankles. My Happy Rainy Days cape held up fantastically and my hands weren't icicles thanks to my kayak gloves. But my face! I should also wear my contact lenses more often, because by the end of the ride, my visibility was very foggy.

Jose's rain uniform is incomplete. So far he wears a Gore-Tex jacket, waterproof hiking shoes, a fancy toque and kayak gloves. He couldn't find cycling-specific gloves that were waterproof, breathable and to his liking, so he wandered over to the paddling section of Mountain Equipment Co-op. These gloves aren't waterproof, but they keep our hands warm until the temperature drops to 0 degrees Celsius. We're thinking RainLegs will get him riding through the season more or less comfortably. We both will need saddle covers to keep our seats dry when our steeds await us. A plastic bag (or a shower cap if we get fancy!) will do for now.

I still tote two fleece blankets in my saddle bags. Sometimes it's nice for the kids to warm up in them. Other times, I use them at the park to cover me up if I'm under dressed. A weatherproof friend once told me that there's no such thing as bad weather, only poor planning - I've done my part. Here's to more family bike rides in the rain this fall! 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Yuba Flip Flop - A Cargo Bike for Kids

The wait is almost over! In just over a month, Yuba Bicycles' Flip Flop bike will be available for purchase. The draw with this kid's bicycle is that not only is it a great, light run bike in fun and flashy colors, but your kids now have cargo room on their own bike. So, say goodbye to having to haul extra teddies and snacks, your kid can now truly be independent! Let's be honest, if your child is anything like mine, they still need you to tell them where to go, when to stop and how to remember to bring their cargo, but at least now they can have a little bit more responsibility in their travels.

Fun Facts:
- The Flip Flop weighs 7lbs 10oz, which is less than both my newborn babies' birth weights
- It comes in one of three bright colors - lime, raspberry and aqua

 - Its target age range is 1.5 to six years


 - The name originates from its ability to flip from a down tube to a top tube and flop the other components to accommodate the growing child


- The rear rack can hold up to 2 to 3 pounds, which means all our travel teddies can come for a ride. Carrying more than a few items could affect the balance of the bike, so don't go overboard, kids!

Click here to watch Yuba Bikes' founder, Ben Sarrazin, talking about his motivation for creating the first cargo bike for kids. You'll see the FlipFlop in action and might want to add it to your holiday shopping list.  

As I wait for this game-changing bike to be available at my local bike shop, both Nae-J and I will dream of the adventures this autumn holds for us. Who knows, she might even bring our camping stove to warm up the hot chocolate on early evening rides!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Summer Bucket List 2014

Before I kick the summer bucket, here are ten things that I'd like to accomplish:

1) Restart training for my first marathon. After the Around the World Running Blog Relay ended in April, I chose to take the month of May off from training. May turned into June and neither Jose nor I have gotten back on the walk-training train. I'm disappointed because I know that training is what makes a marathon doable. I want to enjoy this challenge in October, and for that to happen, I've got to lace up.

2) Sell the car. One of our 2014 goals was to drive less. We've decided that we can live happily ever after without owning a car. We've listed it for sale online and are waiting for the right buyer to come along and drive off with our first vehicle. If you know anyone who's looking for an entry-level car (read: manual shifting, manual locks and windows), drop me a line!

3) Do a 2-night bicycle camping trip. Last year Ashley and I went bicycle camping for the first time. Last weekend, she went on a two-night camping trip on Salt Spring Island. She's inspired me to pack carefully and hit the road for a similar adventure.

4) Meet internet friends in real life. I'm afraid I'm not as awesome in real life as I am online! I don't want to come off too loud or annoying, too tall or too ... not me. I'm not fishing for compliments, just hoping that I won't rub friends the wrong way when we do eventually meet.

5) Enjoy the beach. The Pacific ocean is cold around here! Last week, both Nae-J and JahJ went into the Gorge water to wade. I was unable to go in past mid-shin. I've been told that the water is warmer earlier in the day, especially on hot days. The Gorge Swim Fest is scheduled for August 10, so I have a few weeks to pray for warm water and build up a tolerance to the cool waters.

6) Go to outdoor movies in Esquimalt. Maybe the ones which start around 8:30 will be the ones I can stay up for.

7) See fireworks. There are some scheduled for Canada Day and British Columbia Day - I just have to make sure to get a nap on those days so I can stay up past dark!

8) Visit a Gulf Island. As much as we haven't discovered everything our island has to offer, I would like to hop on a ferry and visit Mayne, Pender, Galiano or Salt Spring this summer. I guess this is sort of a "grass is greener" item on the bucket list.  

9) Get rid of the tan lines on my feet. Just cause I'm tired of the Mary Jane shoe outlines. I should wear my Birks more. 

10) Grow at least 3 pounds of tomatoes from each plant. Eleanor gave me ten tomato plants in June which I managed to squeeze into ten square feet in my garden bed. This isn't enough room for each plant, but I figure, since they aren't side-by-side neighbours, they should be able to yield their full fruit potential. This is my second time growing tomatoes, and last year's yield was dismal.

I know you've got a summer bucket list too! Link it in the comments below and I wish you the best of the season. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Family Bicycle Camping - May Edition

We've had a long and sunny spring here in Victoria. We had planned to kick off our camping season in April, but that was when planning for the Bike Fest started taking over my life. My parents-in-law have a nice, slightly slanted front yard that welcomes overnight camping guests. We headed there last night, hurriedly cycling so we could set up our tent before the daylight escaped.

It turns out we forgot to pack the kids' fleece and one of the four ground pads. We also didn't pack any kitchen supplies, but we knew we'd have access to the house, so that wasn't as bad. We looked bulkier than necessary with all our pillows, teddies and blankets. I've heard that cargo bikers don't pack light, and as determined as I am to prove that wrong, we are still overpackers.

We ate smokies and s'mores to our hearts' content. The night came, the fire died and we fell asleep to the ducks' lullabies. At the crack of dawn, Nae-J was up. We went into the house and I climbed into the guest bedroom's cozy bed. She insisted on having chocolate and ice cream for breakfast while watching a television show. Is this what she thinks camping is!? When a reasonable hour of waking presented itself, JahJ joined us and he too had ice cream for breakfast.

This morning, the Victoria airport had a community celebration for the grand opening of the flight path, a bicycling/walking trail around the airport. I assumed we were 45 minutes away from the airport, since it's only fifteen minutes by car. Both Jose and I use the MovesApp to track our daily physical activity and it noted that we rode the 19.5km in an hour and 13 minutes. We rode out to the celebration on the Lochside trail, crossing the highway at Beacon Ave. It was easy to find the celebration as several kid riders had decorated bikes and helmets.

This event had free food, ice cream, entertainment and specialty planes flying overhead. We were really impressed with the caliber of the festivities and appreciated that it was not too crowded. The kids didn't want to leave, so we had to dance them back onto the bikes.

I suspect that future camping trips won't be as easy. This one night camping included a home in which to find shelter, kitchen tools and food staples. Our breakfast, lunch and snacks were at a free family event which also had a two bouncy castles. We traveled on a multi-use trail with very few hills. Overall, I say it was a good way to start the camping season. May we all learn to pack what we need and have great family experiences.