Boulder’s bicycle culture is thriving and lively, and we habitually capture and celebrate it in visual form and as a group. Compare the single man polishing the chrome bumper of his car to the workshop of Community Cycles, which has now graduated 1,000 Earn-a- Bikers from its community workshop. There’s a shared joy in bikes, and a community built around them that emerges often as an element of “ours” rather than “mine.”
This week is a good one for bikes around town. Boulder’s B-cycle, the nonprofit bike share program, kicks off its second season on March 16. And the Dairy Center for the Arts is hosting a month-long exhibit dedicated to celebrating bikes, complete with bike-related art and screenings of films such as Freedom Riders, which is about early single-track trail builders, and Bicycle Dreams, which focuses on the Race Across America, a 3,000-mile bike race.
“We would lay odds that our celebration of the bicycle in art is the most immersive set of events that anyone has ever done,” says Mary Horrocks, gallery coordinator at the Dairy Center. “We’re doing it with performance art, we’re doing it with film, we painted a mural on the outside of our building, we’ve got all this visual art throughout the gallery, and I think that we’re just allowing people to come in the door and immerse themselves in everything bicycle.
The performance art aspect of the exhibit will be an “instant art event” featuring artist Jimmy Descant accompanied by DJ Cola and DJ Fabreeze.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 17, Descant will construct a sculpture using hundreds of bike parts collected from the Boulder community. The “wild, crazy and fun” performance will pay tribute to our extensive biking community and culture, Horrocks says.
Originally from New Orleans, Descant moved to Salida in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Known as the “rocketman,” Descant produces “found art,” often in the form of whimsical rocket ships.
“When I lived in New Orleans, I belonged to a group called the ‘Bicycle Cowboys,’ and me and my buddies all dressed up in cool vintage Western wear,” Descant says. “I would always build a new rocket-like custom cruiser bicycle, but I also lost them all in Katrina, in the flood. When I got out here to Salida, I built a custom cowboy Indian rocket bicycle with a vintage vacuum cleaner on it, and then a kid’s saddle on top of that as my seat.”
Recently, Descant has been constructing his pieces at live, improvisational art events around Colorado.
“What I’ve been working towards for the last few years is to be able to create something on-site, in front of people, and go with the force,” Descant says. “I relish in the live entertainment aspect.”
Horrocks hopes that the event will attract bike lovers of all kinds from around Boulder, from mountain bikers to competitive cyclists. And for those who don’t own a bike, or just want a taste of the action, Boulder B-Cycle steps in to help.
B-Cycle’s 1,170 general members and their day users pick up, ride and drop off bikes at their locations, most of which are concentrated in Boulder’s downtown business corridor. The company served more than 6,000 day users last season, says B-Cycle Executive Director Elizabeth Train.
“We’re excited to see if we can beat that this year,” Train says. “It takes a little while for a bike share program to catch on, and we think that our second season will be huge in terms of membership and use.”
B-Cycle will start the season with 120 bikes in 15 locations, and will open four new locations later this spring. Their ongoing partnership with Denver B-Cycle for reciprocal memberships lets members of either organization use bikes from both.
Train attributes a large part of B-Cycle’s success to its convenience and low level of commitment required.
“Boulder is a pretty safe place, but we do still have bike theft,” Train says. “With bike-share, you can walk away from that bike once you’ve docked it and you don’t have to worry about it again. You don’t have to worry about carrying a lock with you, or doing maintenance on the bike.”
Boulder’s smooth and scenic bike paths, maintained roads and numerous crosswalks also contribute to the ease of biking here, Train says.
“I also think bikes are fun,” Train says. “People come in from out of town, and they see all the people riding bikes, and they want to do the same thing. They want to be part of that. Bikes really allow people to live the Boulder life when they’re visiting.”
For more information about Boulder B-Cycle, visit boulder.bcycle.com. To find more information on the Dairy Center’s exhibit, go to thedairy.org/bikeart, and to learn more about artist Jimmy Descant, visit www.deluxerocketships.com.