This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, May 31 2019 6:55 AM UTC +00:00.
4 ½ ft (the title is a reference to the standardization of the width of railroads) is a performative art work, bicycling abandoned railroads to illuminate a new line across the country — a parkway that could serve as an alternate way to experience the U.S. American landscape. I have mapped a prospective route across the continental United States via established rail-trails (abandoned railroads converted into multi-use trails) and disused rail lines with the potential for conversion. A small team is bicycling this route in a series of drawing rides from west to east. I'm working informally with Rails to Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people,” exchanging data and contributing our unique perspective to their efforts. I’m thrilled that RTC recently announced a new initiative -- the Great American Rail-Trail -- to help create and connect rail-trails into a single cross-country route.
4 1/2 ft approaches the complex history of the railroad in the United States through a collective experience in performative mark-making. Over the course of each ride, a piece of the route across the country is mapped by our team of artists, aerial photographers, and other riders. We connect the trails that currently exist into as complete a line as possible, while collecting our own data in the form of photos, videos, and objects we find along the way, such as railroad spikes and wildflowers. These corridors offer affordances particular to travel by train: gentle curves, gradual grades up inclines, cuts and tunnels through rock and mountain. Traversing rail lines by bicycle affords a slow immersion in and passage through routes built on excess, violence, and dispossession. While railroads were described as a technology that collapsed time and space, their many abandoned corridors now carry the fiber optic cables that constitute the internet in the continental U.S. We are riding to imagine what other futures might be elicited through them.
At the overlap of art and cycling, arenas both historically dominated by men, this project is led entirely by women. The rides are not just a unique mode of art-making, but an act of community building amongst predominantly women artist-cyclists from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. We aim not just to form an internal community, but to connect with the communities we are moving through, and are currently looking at various ways to engage with local communities along our route, including invitations to join us for a part of Drawing Ride 3.
We successfully completed Drawing Ride 1, riding from Seattle, Washington, to the border of Northern Idaho/Montana in June 2014, and Drawing Ride 2, across Montana, Eastern Idaho, and Wyoming in June 2017. We envision approximately four more rides to complete our line on the East Coast. The current fundraising campaign will support Drawing Ride 3: we’ll ride across Nebraska primarily along the 220-mile Cowboy Trail / the former Chicago Northwestern Railway, and then through Lincoln, Omaha, and into Iowa.
With your help, we’ll embark on Drawing Ride 3 on May 30, a two-week ride of approximately 450 miles on dirt and gravel.
We need to raise a minimum of $10,000 to launch Drawing Ride 3. Your support will provide crucial assistance to cover data collection, in particular the aerial and ground cinematography; and a support vehicle, which carries our equipment and allows us to explore the gaps between existing trails. This year we are elated that cinematographer Jordan Dozzi, who assisted aerial photographer and artist Michael Light on Drawing Ride 1, will not only accompany us for part of the journey, but will embed with us, bicycling and shooting footage along the route with a drone camera, as well as providing guidance with on-the-ground cinematography.
You can read more on our website, at http://fourandahalffeet.art and on Rails to Trails Conservancy's blog. Follow Drawing Ride 3 on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/fourandahalffeet/), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/fourandahalfft).
I’m also delighted to announce that we’ll be adding a page to the website this year dedicated to everyone who’s supported us thus far. Thank you for your interest and support at any level, you make it happen!
Risks and challenges
Doing an outdoor project always entails risks, chief among them weather conditions. We have followed the devastating spring flooding in Nebraska and are aware the trail will be rougher this year, though passable, with trestles out which we'll have to navigate around. We have trail organization contacts who will apprise us of the most current conditions. A support vehicle allows us to be flexible, adapting to conditions on the ground.
We're working with Ginny Wilson, our driver-guide for Drawing Ride 2, as well, who has a wealth of bike travel experience and can do basic bike repairs.
Injury is a possibility any time one cycles, but again the support van is there for assistance, if needed. We will have between 5-6 riders this year, so even if one or another person needs to drop out, the other riders will continue the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter