Bicycle Haiku from Kevin Kelly

In 1979, Kevin Kelly rode a bike from San Francisco to New York and sketched what he saw in a notebook.


Bicycle Haiku is a reproduction of a sketchbook I kept while I rode my bicycle across the US in 1979. It contains an ink sketch and a haiku for each day of the three month 5,000 mile trip. A typical scene would be like the day I passed through Francisco, Indiana. On a page full of cow faces staring up at me, the haiku goes: “Collective silence/Like I walked into the wrong room/Every horned head turned.” (This was Annie Dillard’s favorite.) I scanned the 151 images in the original book and printed this at a books-on-demand printer in 2001. This book will not be a best-seller. It’s a book of poetry, and you know what that means. It might appeal to anyone intrigued by pedaling across a continent, or loners fascinated by blue highways and other little-traveled roads, or sensitive souls really into haikus, or sketches. I can imagine a few odd ducks who collect self-published books that will be thrilled by this book. Personal friends of mine may be interested in this vanity publishing. For the rest – that is for most normal people – there is nothing of fashionable interest here.

Kevin enjoyed the ride so much he produced a short how-to for other cyclists.

This month a Kindle version is available with an iBook to follow. I’d like to see Kevin redo that ride with an annotated GPS map and photos with sketches. Once our racing days are over, we’re riding across the country too.

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