Lots of people cycle and lots of people doodle, but Stephen Lund is one of a handful of people in the world who doodles by cycling. Lund, a 50-year-old marketing consultant, has turned his home of Victoria, B.C. into a massive canvas and uses his bike and a GPS tracker as his brush.
Where did the idea for the doodles come from?
It came from that little red line on the map. I bought a GPS device in August 2014 as a training tool because it seemed everyone in the club I ride with had one and used them to track their rides. When I first downloaded my rides and saw them on the map, I started seeing shapes in them and wondered, why isn’t anyone drawing with this?
How do you plan them?
In the best case it is the map that provides the inspiration, but either way, there are two techniques that I use. One would be to find a doodle that is one continuous ride. I manage to find roads, routes and paths that allow me to complete the entire picture uninterrupted. And that feels a lot more creative to me than the other technique, which I call ‘connecting the dots’. I discovered somewhat by accident that if I pause my Garmin at point A and restart it at point B, those lines will connected with a straight line. So if I want to work in some details, or really find details, such as the eyes in the mermaid or spikes on my stegosaurus tail, I can use that technique when the roads don’t cooperate.
Which technique is harder?
I like the continuous routes better. It’s largely an issue of problem solving. I look at the map and see a general shape. The giraffe is a great example. You can see its four legs coming down and it’s neck, but to work out the route that I would need to ride to actually make that an actual picture is just immersing myself in the map.
What if the roads don’t connect?
I use Google maps a lot. I zoom right in and if the roads don’t connect where I need them to connect. I look for a field I can cut across or parking lot that I can wind my way through. It’s very satisfying when I solve the problem. And I think the whole geography thing is interesting too. It’s all about working with the map. Once I’ve really planned it out on the map, the rest is pretty academic. I just have to stick to the roads I’ve planned the route on.
Do you ever make mistakes?
Not as much now because I know the obstacles pretty well. But there was a time, when I was doing my witch it looked like one road connected to the other, but there was a big wall of bedrock. I probably could’ve scaled it but I’m in cycling cleats and the rock is wet and I thought ‘well, I can climb it, or just go a block down and skirt about it.’ The good thing with these is that they’re so big. When I’m working on a 50 or 60-square kilometre canvass a one-block detour tends not to show unless you zoom in.
How long do they take?
They average about 70 kilometres of riding, and that would be about four hours on the bike. The mermaid took 14 hours. It was an ordeal. But you know, she turned out in the end and people are really quite taken by her.
Any art training?
Yes I work as a creative and I work with graphic designers all the time and I have a pretty good visual special design sense. But I’m not a graphic designer per se. But this is really my first foray into the visual arts. But in terms of the broader notion of creativity, what I really find is that even though words are my domain, this really recharges me creatively. I just feel totally re-energized after planning a route or going out and riding one. And so I don’t know if that’s a matter of working a different part of my right brain, but it’s been really good for me.
One of the fellows is starting a bike touring company here in Victoria and he wondered if I’d offer GPS doodle tours, which is something I’m going to experiment with. Victoria’s such as cycling destination, and if people come and are enthusiastic cyclists then what a great takeaway of your experience, a doodle. You know, ‘I went to victoria to cycle and look at the doodle I made’.