New books and old bikes

I sit in the backyard, chair turned toward the sun, with a new book.

The sun is warm and good. I need this. Our house was built in 1992. Brand new by east coast standards. Ancient history in the ever expanding, southwestern metropolis of Phoenix. The lawn is manicured, irrigated, overseeded, fertilized. I am reading about a man who uses a bicycle for his main source of transportation as I sit in the midst of an unsustainable desert oasis. This lawn, the impossibility of it all.

It is a Christmas present from my wife, David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. I had, of course, heard of Mr. Byrne. Who hasn’t? He has been making music forever. A few of his tracks are among my all time favorites. I knew he wrote, and I had heard of his book at some time or another. But, I really knew nothing about it other than it had something to do with the bike.

This pill party web experience we call drunkcyclist also has something to do with the bike. And, even I, the chief idiot in charge of this train wreck, cannot really say what that something is. I wondered where the text could lead me. Just about anywhere, really. Just about anywhere.

It was two days unwrapped, but I had not been able to dig in. Once I had, I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it was better than I anticipated.

I should temper that last statement, I suppose, by saying I really don’t expect much from anything these days. That was no crack at Mr. Byrne. Rather, law school has done this to me. Constantly spending every waking moment trolling through yet more utterly cumbersome verbiage in an attempt to parse out nuggets of wisdom does change one’s approach to the written word. And, one’s enjoyment of the same. I find myself knocking everything down to an outline, and in turn, boiling that to an essence that can fit on a 3 x 5 card.

You’d think all that would make one a better writer. Oddly enough, I still churn out the some drivel. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? Or, perhaps, it is still easy to type away as this fellow I’ve named “big jonny” and just call it good enough.

This is no book review. I’m really not much good at that type of thing. I’ve tried before, a few times, in the past. Mixed results mostly. If I like it, I’ll tell ya. Simple enough.

I like this book.


Later that night, we go to an Irish Bar for dinner. Seemed like the thing to do. Me, my father, and father in law at one end of the table, drinking pints of Guinness. Cracking jokes. Enjoying one another’s company.

One asked me, not sure which, how may bikes I have. I couldn’t answer.

They laughed.

Mine alone, or the kid’s bikes too, I asked?

What’s the difference, they said, laughing.

The kids have three. No, four.

They laughed some more.

My wife has four. At least. Maybe five.

They continued laughing.

I asked to borrow a pen. My father often (always) has one in his shirt pocket. I’ve no idea why, really. But, I benefit from his preparedness just the same.

I started making a list on a cocktail napkin.


When I got back home, I went out to the garage and counted. I had forgotten one.

An orange Kona Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Sorry, sweetheart. No offense meant. And, no, Pineapple, you can’t buy her. Not yet, anyways.

We (I) have twenty six bicycles.

And so it goes…

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

27 thoughts on “New books and old bikes

  1. A good friend recently told me it isn’t about what something is, but rather, what you want it to be.

    Still, I laughed along with your family as you elaborated on your little bike problem.


  2. I’m building up a collection also, daughter, 1, wife, 2, self, 4 (5 soon), and a tandem… 8 going on 9.

    Good luck. Just keep riding when you get the time.


  3. all hail the big kitchen. i applaud your patience and humility. i’m so fucking serious and badasse, it woulde have gone like thisssssss:


    be safe. it may not be as funny as you think…………………….

  4. dammit. i don’t know what i did just now, but apparently it was some sort of CODE. it erased my entire threat. it went like thissss:

    One asked me, not sure which, how may bikes I have. I couldn’t answer.

    They laughed.

    “Oh yeah? You think that’s funny?” as suddenly as i spoke, the din of ridicule fell quiet. “Keep laughing and I’ll reach down your fucking windpipe, put on your lungs like fucking boxing gloves, and beat your face into steak.”

    They stopped laughing. Dumb bastards should be more thankful for the little Christmas production I just put on for them.

  5. When does a frame, a couple wheels and afew parts get counted as a bike? Seriously. Because I’ve got either two or seven. Eight, counting the wife’s old tenspeed.

  6. 3 bikes is refined. feel lucky that you’re not like big kitchen. he’s like a fat kid in an ice cream shop with a bad haircut and every fucking flavor on his chest, throat, and cheeks area. he’s spazzing out, foaming at the lips, and about to piss his leg. meanwhile, there’s the colonel with a carefully selected coco-homo-nilla on a waffle cone earnestly savoring the rich homo-nillish flavor profile and it becomes evident that old gravy pants there, big kitchen, may not be “winning.”

  7. you’ll come around jaun-grande. someday you’ll need to sell it (running out of room, maybe) and my offer will be 50 bucks lower. and then we all win (except you (you’ll lose (again))).

  8. To arrive at a proper bike count one must take the # of times they piss per day X the number of beers they drink in one year / thier weight (in kilos) X frequency of sex in one average week. All that X zero, number of bikes plus one and then minus one. That’s how to figure out how many bikes one has.
    p.s. you’re welcome.

  9. I just finished the David Byrne book a few weeks ago (birthday gift for me). I also liked it more than I expected. He’s got valid insight on cycling as a means of transportation. His point that urban cycling needs to feel safe and relaxing–not harrowing and adrenalin-inducing like it currently often is–in order for more people to do it rang particularly true.

    Spandex loving cyclo-nerds like our lot don’t think twice about weaving around through traffic, but Sally Suburbs is terrified of trading in her SUV only to get run over by her neighbor’s.

    I only have 3 1/2 bikes currently.

  10. I gave away a bike on Sunday (the Giant 8901 Cadex I rebuilt in road trim) so now I’m down to five. Three for me and two for the wifely unit. Ha!

  11. You need to find a tall skinny poor kid who wants to start riding and set them up. Bike mentoring is where it’s at if you have such a huge quiver. I’ve done it w/ a little cuz and they’ve been on loaner status so I can always reclaim them and he has to always take care of the bikes too then. Give it a try, keep your eyes open and you will blow a kid away w/ lots of fun times and speed thrills. This xmas my cuz finally got one that is his to keep and beat as he’d like.

  12. Big Kitch, ya need to find a really dorky tall kid that likes potato vodka to come over and run a train on yer biyikes. I wish I were taller.

  13. Juan, Prost Neujahr!! and thanks for continuing the train wreck in 2009…see ya in 2010, – Bobbo

  14. I finished that book last night. Mr. Byrne seems to have it going on. Floating around the world, riding his bike in a bunch of cool places and hanging out with various cool locals.

    I am now down to three bikes – road, mountain, beater. I think I am cured.

  15. big johnny,

    Happy New Year. First let me say that I like this train and how do you get on it? Second up here in the Great White North there is a neat bike shop run by an an ex pat American Al. He has some great stories that always start with Hey…

    But one of the things that we talked about when I got up to 9 bikes myself was that it was OK to have lots of bikes as long as they didn’t do the same things.

    This made a lot of sense to me.


  16. I use the bicycle as my primary mode of transportation too. I guess that means I could write a book and suburbanites with artificial lawns could read my righteous words and ponder a better life… Fuck, why am I not on that road yet.

  17. Oh wait… David Byrne is famous. I’m not. Anything he writes will sell better than mine, even if I write better.

  18. Pingback: Falling… for a fellow rider « WV Cycling