There are two kinds of bike rides: those you've ridden and those you dream about riding someday. This colored-pencil drawing I created over the weekend is from one of those dream rides:
It's of a small section of Route 2 between North Adams and Charlemont in northwestern Massachusetts. Also known as the Mohawk Trail, Route 2 follows an old Native American and colonial trade path through the high mountains of the northern Berkshires.
I've driven the Mohawk Trail many times on trips to western Massachusetts, and I always think the same thing: I have got to come back here someday on my bike! It would be a challenging ride, surrounded on all sides by mountains. But it's intensely beautiful; the kind of beauty I really like -- a winding road through a dark pine forest, tucked away in a deep valley, and the vague memory of ancient tales hanging in the mist. The forest itself is one of the oldest in New England, with Hemlocks that are nearly 500 years old and White Pines that reach upwards of 160 feet, the tallest trees in New England.
It would be a thrilling ride ... someday. But for now I'm happy to enjoy the dream as I wait for spring to arrive. So when I saw that my local art supply store was having a sale on colored pencils, I bought a 24-color set and went to work on a little corner of the dream ride.
It was kind of strange, but for the first time I actually had the sensation I was there in the forest while drawing. Coloring in the black asphalt of the road, I could sense its smooth surface, how nice it would feel gliding under my 25-millimeter tires. And the different shades of green in the grass, and the browns and reds of the bark ... it all felt like I was bringing these magical woods to life on the page.
I also really enjoyed the sounds of drawing with colored pencils -- the clickety-clack of dropping one pencil and picking up another, and the light scratching of the lead on paper. It reminded me of the soothing, mechanical rhythms of cycling ... where machine and imagination all come together.