down by the levee

the edge of davis

I fancied cycling tonight, before the Sun went down, so I went down to the very edge of town, to the levee, a spot I’d never actually been to before, though it’s right near where I live. You can see all the way to Sacramento, across the flat Yolo landscape. Not in this drawing, but it is there. The moon (also unseen) hung low and pink, in the east. Some interesting birds hopped about nearby. All very peaceful. The sun started to vanish so I cycled home.

Sepia micron 05.

chipotle shoulder


Lunchtime downtown, sketched out in the heat (almost hit a century today). Had a burrito at Chipotle. That’s not my bike, by the way.

Have you noticed how everything these days is ‘chipotle’? Food marketers can’t get enough of it. I even saw some chocolate dessert thing somewhere that had chipotle in the title recently, presumably to entice ye who cannot get enough chipotle. I’m surprised automakers haven’t started using it to shift cars in these troubled times. “The new Chevrolet Chipotle, more fuel efficient than a Fajita and spicier than a Ford.”

father wears his sunday best

hunt boyer house

This is not Our House and it’s not in the middle of R Street, it’s the Hunt Boyer House and it’s on the corner of E Street, and 2nd, Davis. There used to be this absolutely whopping tree behind it, and I mean enormous, but they cut it down as it was leaning a bit too far to the right (never a popular thing in this town). Mind you, from the other side it looked like the tree was leaning too far to the left. Oh well, I suppose many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Perhaps instead of cutting it down we should have bailed it out.

just the same as all the rest

outdoor adventures

It’s summer, there is no thai soup, and that means I sketch more at lunchtimes. Lately of course the weathera part of the bike barn has been too hot and smoky, but now it’s a bit cooler, and so it’s outside to draw all the same stuff I always draw at work. This is the Outdoor Adventures building: seems like I’m drawing something new, but looks the same as all those bike barn drawings i did (see right) – because it’s the other side of the same building. It’s currently Summer Sessions on campus, so there are more students around than you’d expect in a break. It’s a mixture of strangely quiet and too busy.

tombé en panne

G & 4th, davis

Today was very hot in Davis; not good for allergies, not good if you hate bugs, not good for redheads like pete. After spending the morning playing guitar to the baby I decided to get out on the bike to draw. My bike, however, did not think so. After twenty minutes, on the bike path, it just died; the back wheel refused to spin. I wrestled with it in the heat for an hour, getting filthy, before taking it to a bike shop, where they apparently fixed it by turning a nut with a wrench. Ok, thanks, yes I tried that with my bare hands, that might have been the problem. I cleaned up, and finally got to draw something, choosing a particularly nondescript corner, in fairly nondescript sepia, because I was in a mood.

I then got on my bike to go home. And after ten minutes, the chain went, and then five minutes later the back wheel stopped again, stopped like a french worker in striking season (that’s about this time of year, usually). I had to abandon it, I had no phone with me, there were no payphones, and so I walked home defeated in the heavy heat.

I think the phrase is ‘Bugger’.

Year 2, week 73: Le Tour de Californie

While I was busy playing mini-golf (that’s crazy golf to you) in Santa Rosa on Monday afternoon, about a hundred and forty cyclists in tight bright lycra were whizzing up the coast of California from the San Francisco Bay. It was the first leg of only the second annual Tour of California, our very own Tour de France (but without the whole France bit). Funnily enough, I don’t remember it happening last year, but they assure me that it did. Anyway, it was going to be finishing in Santa Rosa, and I considered going downtown to watch them come in, but the thought of standing beside forty thousand people watching a load of people I’ve never heard of in a sport I’m not interested in didn’t really appeal (I might as well watch the England cricket team, for example). I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t, though, because right at the end there was a crash, a load of cyclists toppling over one another in a mangle of metal, fibreglass and lycra. Yes, yes it’s sadistic I know, but that’s the only reason a lot of people watch such sports, for the crashes. England in the World Cup, for example, they always crash out.

When I lived in Belgium it was the turn of the millennium, a time for Belgians to reflect on their home-grown heroes of the last century. Crooner Jacques Brel was up there, of course, along with the Smurfs, but the one who topped the most polls in that bike-mad country was Eddy Merckx, the ‘Cannibal’. There was always drama around that guy, from serious and lethal crashes, and being punched by Frenchmen incensed about a Belgian dominating their Tour, to breaking all the cycling records anybody could throw at him. Anyway, apart from Lance Armstrong and that kid in ET, he’s the only other cyclist I’ve ever heard of. No chance of them showing up in their yellow jerseys. But when I heard that the second stage of the Tour of California would pass through Davis on its way to Sacramento, well I had to go and have a look.

I’d been ill that morning, but decided to cycle downtown on the way to work to see what the fuss was all about. People were starting to line the streets with bright things to wave at the cyclists (would that not put the poor sods off?), while news crews constantly checked gear, touched up make-up and downed decaf cappucinos. Well, they had to cover the event in Davis, it is ‘Biketown USA’ after all. Occasionally word would get around – ‘they’re twenty minutes away!’ – ‘they’re fifteen minutes away!’ – but in reality they were much further, held up by the wind. A lot of people stood patiently with cameras at the ready, but still no sign of the racers. There was a general feeling of having been stood up, but nobody wanted to leave before the date called to cancel.

And then, a distant cheer, an advancing motorcade, and there they were, the three frontrunners who had broken away from the main group. They were gone in an instant, followed by a couple more pacers on Harleys. “Well those guys are cheating,” I said of the following motorcyclists, my public joke for the day. “No, they’re not actually in the race,” a woman pointed out helpfully and utterly without irony. A couple of minutes later came the main crowd, tightly packed together, zooming down 2nd Street like a herd of wild antelope in plastic helmets. The battle of the digital cameras began and ended before excitement could reach fever pitch, but I have to admit, being there while that pack of cyclists flew by in a blur was slightly trippy, and reminded me of standing hypnotised by those shimmering shoals of fish in the huge tanks at Monterey Bay Aquarium. And then they were gone, leaving nothing but dust, and the crowds dissolved into thin air. And that was the Tour of California. They’re heading south now, towards Big Sur and onto LA. I still won’t follow cycling as a sport, and I still won’t learn any of these world-renowned cyclists’ names, but I’m glad I saw it all the same.