A full year of bike commuting

A year ago today, I started riding my old and over-sized Giant OCR to work. That thing was a men’s 52cm aluminum frame bike. The handlebar is so wide and the bike so heavy that it rides like a couch–slow and comfortable.

My commute to work is a very short 4.5 to 5 km depending on the route. The reason I always drove is that it’s easy, and I was given a parking spot at work. Riding a bike just seemed like such a chore.

The new building our office moved into has a really great bike locker and shower facility. The bike locker is free. I pay $180/year to have access to the shower with towel service. It even has two clothes dryers for those rainy Vancouver days so you can dry your wet clothes. $180 is peanuts when you consider what you get for it. (Thank you, Oxford Properties!)

It took maybe a week or so to get into the rhythm of bike commuting. It takes a bit of extra time to pack my work clothes and lay out my cycling clothes the night before, and a bit of extra time to change back into cycling clothes after work. If I have to bring my laptop home, it’s extra weight to haul. Some days I use just a backpack with a chest strap, and some days I use my Ortlieb classic pannier bag on the bike rack–it just depends on which bike I’m riding and how much I’m hauling.

In terms of commute time, I would say it averages out to be shorter on the bike. Driving is about 12 minutes in the morning if I leave early enough, but often 30 minutes in the evening (or 40 minutes when Burrard bridge was being renovated). Cycling time both ways is always consistently between 14 and 16 minutes, regardless of traffic conditions. The fastest cycling time is 12 minutes (early morning, green light all the way, on the road bike), and the slowest is 18 minutes (I think I was just dilly dallying that day, plus hitting all red lights, on the cross bike).

The best thing about bike commuting is that it eliminates the high blood pressure induced by my road rage while driving gives me time to decompress while I’m commuting. I get some fresh air, get some blood pumping through my system, and burn a few calories.

I’d love to say that I’m doing it for environmental reasons, but I would be lying. I don’t deserve a “one less car” sticker, because I’m doing this for myself rather than for the greater good of the globe. You can always count on me to be totally honest.

The worst thing about bike commuting is…well, I don’t know. Yes, some days I get wet from the rain, and some days I am cold. But I find if I dress right, given my very short commute distance, none of it is really that bad. I don’t recall ever hating a bike commute, whereas I recall hating almost every driving commute.

If you are considering bike commuting to work, I would say just give it a try for a week and see how it feels. You might like it so much that you decide to sell your car. Or do the Whistler fondo. Or just enjoy some fresh air.

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This “haul everything” set up.

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A little snow this winter.

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Finding great backgrounds for bike photos during my commute.

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Sometimes I take a detour on my way home.

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So many great bike lanes in Vancouver, and well salted during the winter.

Sherry

It’s always an awesome problem when I open up a set of photos to edit and find too many good ones. That’s what happened with Sherry’s photos. I think I’ll be editing for quite a while.

While I’ve known Sherry for many years in her professional career as the friendly, helpful, and cheerful type, I never knew she has this hidden sultry side. She rocked her session and we had a blast.

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My beautiful friend, Lisette

My friend, Itti, reminded me that I have been forgetting to put my photography business blog entries on my personal blog. While the majority of my friends are on Facebook and usually see that I share my blog status on my personal Facebook page, it’s easy for me to forget that not everyone is on Facebook. So if you start seeing duplicate entries again, this is why.

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood for shooting something different. I wanted to experiment with a few things I learned. I put it out there on my personal Facebook page, and my brave friend Lisette volunteered to model for me.

Lisette is not one of those ladies who do anything half heartedly. She was a totally committed model. We talked briefly on the phone about wardrobe, and she showed up with a suit case full of clothes and shoes for us to choose from.

What was even more amazing is this–you see these beautiful images of her below? Yeah, she just finished running a half marathon 2 hours before these photos. Amazing! She was super fun to work with, and I just love how she brings simple shots to life.

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David

David’s mom and I have been friends for many years.  We used to spend hours walking around the seawall at Stanley Park and talking about our grand future.  David is a part of this grand-ness.  He was only 6 hours old when I first met him, and he already stole my heart.  It was so much fun to photograph him and capture his edible cheeks and gorgeous eyes.

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Elizabeth

Elizabeth was 13 days old when I came to photograph her.  She was the first human baby of the household, and she has an older fur sister named Tess.  Tess welcomed me with lots of kisses and excited squeals.

I love the family photos with the tender connection between Dad and Elizabeth.  Tess also put on her super cute face for me to photograph too!

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Date night fun

Last night, Cliff and I had date night arranged.  He wasn’t feeling that great, and I was pretty tired.  But it was a very precious opportunity for us to be out without the kids, so we went out, hauling my camera and lighting equipment to Gastown with us.

I had an assignment I needed to do for a class, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired.  We tried a few different things, but all I felt was “meh”.  Standing on the sidewalk in Gastown, we started goofing around with the lights, and that was a lot of fun.  These are what we ended up with.

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Lyric

Lyric’s mom wanted photos done for her first birthday.  So the day before Lyric turned one, we met up for the photo session.  From the moment I met Lyric, she did not stop smiling.  It’s hard to resist a cute baby, and even harder to resist one who smiles for a whole hour!

Happy birthday, Lyric!  You are so beautiful and so loved!

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Sparks

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Cliff and I have been struggling to find time for ourselves.  I guess it’s typical of families with young kids.  But really, it’s my fault.  For a long time, I let my fears get in the way, and refused to get a babysitter.  I worried about messing up Joshua’s routine, and I worried about not being there if something happened.

To make a long story short, I finally started letting go a bit more.  Cliff and I had our first night out in…forever…a few weeks ago.  It made me realize how much we need that time together.  So tonight we went out again after the kids went to bed.  We saw this really cool photography idea on the internet and thought we’d try it tonight.  You whip around a piece of burning steel wool to create spark, and leave the camera shutter open to capture the beautiful streams of flying sparks.

So we headed out to the beach tonight, and brought our bag of steel wool burning supplies with us.  It was pitch black at the beach.  I felt like a teenager, sneaking around, up to no good.  When Cliff lit up the steel wool and started swinging it, the sparks flew and it looked really cool.  The wool would burn out in about 15-20 seconds, so that’s how long I would leave the shutter open.  I thought the pictures looked beautiful.

We went to a local pub afterwards for a drink, and enjoyed each other’s company.  That was a short but fun night, with cool photos to boot.

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