Spring in Minneapolis

May 20, 2013

130423_LastLibbyLeft: Twenty-minute watercolor Brush Pen sketch of the life model in gesture class. I drew directly with the blue brush and then washed out and diluted the color with a size 10 round that I kept in my hand. I was out of half sheets of Richeson recycled watercolor paper and wanted to work larger than a quarter sheet so I used duct tape (usually used to mark the model's feet placement for after break) to hold these two pieces together. (15 x 22 inches.)  

Today's image has nothing to do with today's post. I just thought it was a fun image I could show you. You can read about the Bienfang Watercolor Brush Pens in this review post I wrote in March.

The model is very "art deco" in her look which you would see if I'd sketched her whole body, but by the time we get to the longer poses at the end of the class all I want to do is focus on the face. And Christine lets me do this. It's my time to experiment. And time to have a live model sit for me who actually holds a pose—such a luxury in a life filled with sketches made in stolen minutes in waiting rooms and on park benches.

What I really wanted to write briefly about today was spring and cycling.

Last week I got to ride outside five days, with no snow (which this spring is actually an oddity). It has been great to get out on the road again. Rain at the end of the week pushed me inside on Saturday to ride while watching DVDs.

But today, in the morning, the rain stopped and it wasn't horribly muggy. I got out for 17 miles of battling the wind. At first I told myself it wasn't that bad. "It's a crosswind," I kept repeating to myself as I tried to keep my speed around 16 mph even when gusts of wind threatened to knock me sideways.

On the return home I barrelled up the Sabo bridge at 15 mph (my routes are pretty flat so this is my "hill"). I crested the bridge, and turned, with the curve of the downward slope of the bridge, right into the wind! I was peddling as hard as I could while going down hill, and I was going 13 miles per hour. (Usually I go down this slope at about 26 mph.) (The wind was listed on the weather as 18 mph with gusts at 27 mph.)

When I turned on the flat a team rider decked out in his sponsor-splashed jersey and shorts pulled up along side of me and we peddled together for a bit—"I forget every year," he said, making conversation, "that we only have two seasons in Minnesota—Winter and Windy." We looked at each other and laughed with open mouths as the wind slammed right into us.

Despite the wind, I have had enough outside miles that I was able to shave 2 minutes off my time. So it was a good ride, even if it was hot (75-80) and humid (85 percent). 

But speaking of spring and outside miles, another little factoid: On May 12th I had ridden 219 miles outside. Last year on May 12th I had already ridden 727 miles! Snow and ice storms kept me from riding as much this year in April and May. There were probably about 5 days or 100 miles more that I could have put on this year if a family crisis hadn't kept me from riding, but that's still only 319 miles which is less than half of what I did by this time last year. Just saying…California looks pretty good, even with earthquakes.

Today I turned over at 300 miles and I'm grateful for every second of outdoor riding time; it's just a little strange to wear tights one day and shorts the next. We may have skipped spring to go right to summer, but I'm outside and that's what I'm excited about.

I hope you are all getting out to enjoy spring (or fall if you're in another hemisphere). And if you have to deal with a wall of wind, may a friendly soul swing by to cheer you on. You can always be that for someone else.

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