Once in a Lifetime Encounter in Austin

Today, on my last day in Austin, TX for SxSW, my friend Jennifer and I were exiting a hotel courtyard on South Congress to make our way back to the Convention Center. Just as we stepped into the misty air out in the sidewalk, a helmeted cyclist rode by on the street, his sharp features and lean physique instantly recognizable. Agog, we exclaimed in near unison:

“Holy crap, that was David Byrne!”

We stood gaping as he maneuvered his bicycle tentatively across the lanes of oncoming traffic and into the center turn lane of the five-lane street. He was evidently trying to get himself onto the other side of Congress in order to ride with traffic.

Watching him negotiate with a blue pickup truck for the center lane, aggressive traffic on all sides of him, one of us spoke the words we both were thinking: “I really hope David Byrne doesn’t get hit.”

For a fan of Talking Heads and David Byrne since elementary school, coming so close to the man was an incomparable thrill and I stood with Jen on the spot until he had ridden out of sight. But afterward, having walked toward downtown Austin for about a half mile, who should appear but the same gangly figure–now riding on the sidewalk toward us.

Perched bolt upright atop a touring bike, wearing a navy-blue suit, an inexpensive backpack, and what could have been a rental helmet, David Byrne looked like a tourist from some imagined past–or possibly Utah. He rode by, I said “Hi, David” and he reciprocated pleasantries.

Who knew that David Byrne is a committed cyclist but a little Googling indicates he travels with a folding Montague (not what we saw him on) and can be seen tooling around the streets of New York or with helmet in hand.

Cross-posted to Textura Design.