Warning: This is a geek post. A geek post about gear. Painting gear, in the form of bicycle transportation to plein air locations, and how things can go wrong, and then so very right. There is a painting at the end if you can wade through the bike stuff.
I have to admit that there is a little part of me that is as bad as the guy who loves his car. I don’t like cars, however. I love my bicycle. If I spent as much time on the car I used to have as I do on this bicycle, I would be admired as a man’s man, and I’d still have a car. But, alas, this is only a bicycle. I wonder, does that make me less of a man…or more?! The answer must wait for another day, and another post…
In the meantime, I’ve been using my bike to travel to my plein air locations and to the studio as well. Recently, on a bus trip to San Jose, California, I took my bike, as usual, storing it in the bike rack on the front of the bus. But on Sunday afternoon, when I showed up at the bus station in San Jose to return home to Pacific Grove there was a slick new bus waiting for me with no bike rack. The driver took one look at my bike and the baskets on the rear and said “No way that’s gonna fit.” Look at this photo (above) of the nice new baskets I installed only a couple of weeks ago. I have to admit that, when I ordered these, in the back of my mind I envisioned this being a problem on the bus.
This new bus didn’t have an exterior rack. Instead, it had a very large what can only be called “drawer” that opened on the side of the bus. The drawer holds two bikes, each resting on its side on a rubber mat stretched between an iron frame. You open the draw, lay your bike on the rubber mat, and close the drawer. “Even if it fits, there won’t be room for a second bike.” Stifling my panic, I said, firmly, “Open it up and we’ll see.” Sure enough, after laying the bike in place, the “drawer” wouldn’t close; it hung up on the shiny new baskets. “See?”, he said. Not so fast, I thought, this bike’s going in the drawer and I’m
going home on this bus, not wait for the next one in 3 hours which may or may not have an exterior rack. “Hold on a minute.”, I said, crawling halfway into the drawer to see if anything could be done. I discovered that the rubber mat the bike lay on was suspended by velcro straps. Quickly, and without asking permission, I loosened the straps, the bike fell three inches lower, I crawled out, and slammed the big drawer shut.
“Well, if anybody else comes along, they won’t be able to ride.” he said. I was thankful I had arrived first. Gladly feeding the machine with my dollars, I climbed on board and found a good seat, pulled my hat down over my eyes and tried to sleep until the bus was ready to leave. Five minutes later a bike rider pulled up to the door. Before he could speak, the driver told him the bad
news; he’d have to wait for the next bus. Next time, I thought, I might not be so lucky. That’s when I decided to order the folding baskets for the bike, the nice black ones that opened up enough to hold two big bags of groceries or, better yet, two bags of painting supplies, with the easel strapped across the entire thing, the baskets I should have ordered in the first place had I only listened to my inner bicyclist.
Fear of being stranded forced me to order the new baskets as soon as I got home. When they arrived the other day, like a big Christmas package delivered right to my door, I stayed up until midnight installing them, working on the bike right in the kitchen.
This afternoon I test-rode the bike with its new gear, cruising down the hill to downtown Pacific Grove, pulling up to the Art Center, where I have my studio, and parking out front. In the studio, the sunflowers from the other day greeted me, happy to see me again. After all, I had immortalized them only recently. Time to further their fame, I thought. Feeling rather cocky with my new ride sitting outside, I dashed off this 20″x24″ oil on canvas I call “Sunflowers in a Sunny Room”, hopped on my ride and hit the road.