Beautiful weather

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful afternoon – both last weekend and this – especially for the middle of February! Last Monday was President’s Day so no school that day either, which made it a perfect opportunity to head out for a couple of hours of bike sketching.

I really enjoy inking trees and limbs entirely freehand, without the safety net of penciled construction lines. Ambling along on the bike trails that roughly trace the forested Eastern shorelines of Smithville Lake, my greatest difficulty was simply choosing which trees to draw. It seemed like every bend I’d ride around would yield an abundance of subject matter! I finally stopped to sit and watch for eagles at the end of a particularly pleasant point on the lake. I’d spotted a single bald eagle less than five minutes after heading down the first path, but there were no more to be seen after that. I satisfied myself by using my break to sketch out this gnarly tree, then hopped on my bike and continued on my merry way.

Despite a week of unreasonably and unseasonably wonderful weather, it seemed as though the following days left me with limited time to enjoy the roads. Too much to do, too many meetings, too many interviews, just too much, way too much. Saturday couldn’t arrive soon enough. And with an afternoon in the mid-70’s, I was off!

I’d like to have called this a JRA outing, but the truth is that I had a goal and destination in mind. Although I stopped to briefly sketch the city-wide wine tasting taking place on the town square, I wanted to head out of town on one of my well traveled routes, take in some hills and get in some mileage that I’ve been missing these past wintery months.

It didn’t take long to realize the trainer hasn’t done enough to keep my legs in the same shape they were last September. Hills seemed longer, gears seemed higher, and my legs got rubbery far too soon. Blast it all! Not a moment too soon, I found myself enjoying the flat miles of the river bottom farmlands. For a while I managed to simply pedal and ponder, lose myself in the moment and place. And that, after all, is the true value of these rides.

Today, the temps are beginning to drop. The weatherman forecasts a return to something close to the norms, although his predictions still sound better than I remember February being. The winds picked up today, but I was itching to get back out again and wanting to do some shorter mileage on my fixed wheel bike. I enjoy the fact that fixed wheel keeps me churning the entire time I’m out. The problem, of course, was that my legs are out of condition, the winds were a bit harsh and gusty, and my legs are out of condition. Also, my legs are out of condition. The hills seemed even longer and steeper today than they did yesterday riding my geared bike. One fixed gear felt ponderous, so my outing turned out to be painfully short. Instead of riding into the wind I made a quick sketch of my fixed wheel 1946 Hobbs of Barbican.

The good news for me is that the days are perceptively longer, the weather grows more reasonably with each passing day, and soon enough I’ll be back out on the roads every afternoon and morning. The hills will get shorter. The miles, too.

And the outings will get longer, and that’s just fine by me.



5 thoughts on “Beautiful weather

    • I’ve considered doing this myself, but so much of my world is comprised of digital everything that I’ve ultimately made a very conscious decision to remain in the sketchbook. As a professor of design, I find that my students are well versed in making design decisions using digital medias, yet have literally no idea how to scribble an idea onto a scrap of paper, a napkin, or the back of an old envelope. There’s something a little magical about smudges of ink on my fingers, and the tactility of paper; I rather enjoy thumbing through an old sketchbook rather than scrolling through a file of images. I acknowledge the dichotomy – even the irony! – of teaching digital medias to prepare 21st century visual thinkers, all the while seldom leaving the house without a pen and a half-filled book of white pages!

      • true – my day job is filmmaker and that went digital but there i thank the whatever as working to reconstitute trims of 16mm film would kill me. there is the issue of assistants and training up the next generation. But sometimes you find something that works – i have gone from moleskin diaries to having an A5 zippered filofax with an iPad mini also stuck inside …. best of both.

    • I would very enthusiastically encourage you to give it a shot. At least for my “sto and smell the roses” approach to cycling, I find sketching to be a perfect companion activity.

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