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Moving to Philadelphia

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Meet Bryan Sheffield, a photographer by profession, and outdoor enthusiast at heart. “I call myself a portrait photographer,” says Bryan, “I shoot a lot of people for magazines. Photos of actors and musicians. I’ve done advertising photos for outdoor brands, and others like Starbucks, Target and Converse.” He has started taking more photos of nature, having a book of his outdoor work published last year, and focusing more on the adventures he has with his kids.

Bryan and his wife, Erin, grew up in New Jersey, and for the last 15 years they have lived in Los Angeles, California. After they had their first child in 2014, Alden, they had thoughts of moving back to the East Coast. Both of their families lived there, and the desire to be near them grew with their children. When their daughter, Johnny Grace, came along, they knew they had to figure out how to make a move back to the East Coast work.

In 2016, the Sheffield family packed their bags and moved to a tree-filled suburb outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Surrounded by, “Wonderful rolling hills, great public schools, lakes and forests,” their outdoor adventures are taking on a whole new look compared to the weather and landscape of their old home in Los Angeles.

Bryan and some friends started a cycling specific account named @Dad_Bike during his residence in California. Initially, the @Dad_Bike posts were a way to laugh at each other, and that still continues even though the friends now live apart.

“We started it a year and a half ago, and we loved poking fun at ourselves cycling in showing what we do. The group of us are photographers or videographers or artists in some way. It really just started as fun outlet and went from there.”

The pictures on @Dad_Bike tell a story of outdoor adventure. Throughout his life, Bryan has always been into cycling, but once Alden was born so was a refreshed excitement for cycling, going from 200 miles a year to nearly 4,000. He calls it an outlet and meditative space, different than being at home or work.

But, biking for pleasure isn’t nearly as enjoyable by yourself as it is with friends. Even with his friends though, Bryan still felt something was missing from the experience. That something was Alden. His wife was justifiably concerned when Bryan brought up the idea of buying the Bee when his son was 2 months old, saying he should wait a while until he was older. So, they waited, and when Alden was 14 months, they bought the Bee and went for their first ride.

“I just love that it got us to do different things outdoors than we had before. He can come with me on these adventures and he gets to see the places that I ride… like sunset vistas, or gorgeous trails through the forest. It got him into riding a lot more, seeing nature more, and that’s what I really like.”

However, it can truly be an art form to keeping a child entertained. It takes years as a parent, but Bryan figured out how to keep his kids engaged on the ride. “I have found when riding with the kids you need to have some sort of destination, it can’t just be like going out with my friends and going for a ride for a few hours, I need to have a destination. That helps them, not that they don’t enjoy the trailer, but it helps them know where we are and how much longer they will be in there and what we are doing. They need to look forward to the bridge we are going to throw rocks off, or the park we only go to on the bike.”

Kids love the outdoors, but it’s always important to take breaks. Lately, Bryan has been putting both kids in their new D’Lite, and throwing the MyKick in the back for Alden to ride when he gets tired of sitting in the trailer. “I think the most he has done is 2.5 miles on the balance bike,” Bryan says casually, as if 2.5 miles is nothing.

Taking the kids for a ride in the trailer isn’t just for them, it can be a great workout too. Five miles with a trailer can start to feel like you’re doing 30, “You’re huffing and puffing, especially going up hills. Every time I’m out riding with them people will pass me and give me so many thumbs up and encouraging words, ‘oh yeah, good for you,’ ‘oh you’re an amazing dad,’ ‘rad dad,’ was one that I heard a lot. Just being out there and doing it with the kids is great. I love hearing them laugh behind me, or telling me to go faster when we are going up a hill.”

The kids are really into cycling now, and Erin is back into it too. The time outside is a great family activity, whether they are putzing around for five miles, looking at trees and throwing rocks into a river, or going a little further. Biking is something that they all enjoy, and they create memories to share as a family. Pennsylvania offers many new adventures for the Sheffield family, like the Rails to Trails system, or the many different State and National Parks, and Bryan is really looking forward to the year ahead.

 

Written by Ryan Weimer