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Sense of Place: Spoke Folk

Monday, June 18th, 2012 | Posted by

This past Saturday, I loaded my bike into the car and drove down to Spoke Folk Bike Shop in Healdsburg for a tune-up. A young woman named Kimberly welcomed me in from her place behind the counter. We discussed details of the tune-up package, she estimated the cost, and we scheduled a pickup time for Tuesday afternoon.

Lately I’ve been padding extra time around appointments to allow more time for sketching. So with the afternoon clear, I set up a folding chair across the street to study the building’s domed, corrugated-steel roof. Pulling out my sketchpad, I draw its overall structure, and then dive in with paint. In reality, the building is beige and forest green, but I chose to liven up the colors with orange-yellow for the sunlit areas and purple for the shadows.

Back at the bike shop Tuesday afternoon, I paid and happily wheeled my bike out the door. Another customer just outside commented “nice vintage bike.” I thanked him, but thought “vintage?” It’s hard to believe, but it’s been twenty years since I bought my Cannondale mountain bike. At the time of purchase, I was planning a ride in the Tour de San Francisco, a challenging and hilly 24 mile race through Golden Gate Park that wound its way up the Pacific coast to Chrissy Field, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. I participated in the race for two years in a row and it’s one of the most beautiful rides around.

Outside the bike shop, I admired how clean the Cannondale was now, especially when compared to the way it looked in my garage just a few days ago. Stepping my right foot onto the pedal and pushing myself up, I coasted down the street. It felt great to be back on my bike, just like old times. Making my way through the downtown area, I felt the bike humming along with me. What a smooth and invigorating ride!

Now, after having gotten reacquainted with my rusty bicycling muscles, I realize it’s time to get back into shape. I’m looking forward to riding through this picturesque Sonoma County wine country, discovering it up close, and sketching it along the way.

Richard Sheppard is an illustrator, artist and writer who lives and works in Healdsburg. When not in the studio, he creates personal narratives through traveling, sketching and writing books about his journeys. See more of his work at TheArtistontheRoad.com.

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