Friday, March 5, 2010

Review: Bike is a bike is a bike is a bike


David Byrne began riding his bike out of necessity in New York City, but after using this “uncool” mode of transportation in numerous cities throughout the world he grew attached to the new point of view cycling gave him. Bicycle Diaries is a collection of Byrne’s notes and recollections of various cities throughout the world as seen by bike.

I received this book as a gift because I am an avid cyclist. I don’t bike every day, but I generally support the lifestyle cycling promotes. Bicycle Diaries interested me on this level and because I am a huge Talking Heads fan. Don’t expect, however, to read about Byrne rehashing the glory days of “Stop Making Sense.”

The most intriguing parts of this book were when Byrne departed from his travels and drifted in his own memories and philosophies. Byrne’s thoughts are generally quite coherent and interesting—his theories on outsiders in foreign countries really struck me. I am sure he’s had a ton of experience in this field. Bicycle Diaries amounts to a glimpse inside the mind of some level of genius. David Byrne is by no means a cyclist on the level of Lance Armstrong, but he’s had years of experience riding in all sorts of environments. There is certainly some nugget of truth in this work.

It’s hard to separate David Byrne bicycle aficionado from David Byrne the co-creator of The Talking Heads. I assume Byrne wrestles with this everyday and it is apparent in his writing. Those expecting to read Bicycle Diaries the treatise on cycling as a means of urban transportation will be most disappointed to find only a few passages dealing with cycling as politics. The politics of this debate are tired, it’s nice to read a cycling piece that deals with cycling and the people who it brings together.

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