Cover image for Metal cowboy : tales from the road less pedaled
Metal cowboy : tales from the road less pedaled
Kurmaskie, Joe.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York City : Breakaway Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
304 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1051.K97 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An excerpt

Our story so far:

Oh, To Be Young and Go Very, Very Fast

It was 5:30 a. m. in Pocatello, Idaho, a thin sheet of icy rain masked sunrise, and I wasn't quite sure I was up for my latest bicycling adventure. Coasting through the nearly deserted streets of this small Western town, I found myself poised at a stoplight. An ingrained obedience to traffic laws coupled with a sleepy hangover from the long train ride kept me anchored in place though there wasn't a car in sight.

As I waited, an old rancher ambled up to the intersection. The fur collar on his long coat was tattered, crusted with tobacco stains, and faded. As his cane tapped its way over my bike, I noticed for the first time that he was blind. One eye drooped shut like that of a tomcat that had seen too many late-night brawls, while the other, still open, was cloudy and distant. That eye reminded me of an African tribesman seen in the pages of National Geographic who suffered from river blindness.

The old rancher continued to work his cane over me, tapping as he went. And though the light changed from red to green several times, I remained frozen, allowing this slow survey of my person. The moment felt intimate and awkward, but I did not break it. When he was done, the old rancher stood back, grinned through a ruin of teeth, and said, "Ah, metal cowboy."

I was dumbfounded and surprised; first, that he had spoken at all, and more importantly, that this battered husk of man had hit upon a perfect description of me at the time, and my story. Though I looked more like a surfer, or a guy on a fool's journey, to him I felt like a metal cowboy, the bike my horse, and the asphalt my trail. "Keep the wind at your back, and find where the innocent sleep," he added. Then, without fanfare, my rancher crossed the street and dissolved into the early morning mist.

A chill passed through me. I have thought about that old man many times during my travels. He was right about the wind, and as for locating where the innocent sleep, I want to believe he meant to look for the best in people along the road, and that's what you will often find. My bicycle has also brought me to the innocence and the best in myself. Collective

Author Notes

Joe Kurkaskie is the author of Metal Cowboy (Breakaway, 1999) and Riding Outside the Lines (Crown 2001).

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

While cycling through Idaho, Kurmaskie met up with a blind man who, after tapping his cane over Joe and his bike, dubbed him a "metal cowboy." If these 40 essays are any indication, that's a perfect description. Like the cowboys of Old West legend, Kurmaskie drifted around the country (and the world), meeting up with interesting and eccentric people, bunking wherever he found a dry patch of ground, eating whatever he could carry or scrounge. Like the travel books of Bill Bryson, Kurmaskie's collection of essays focuses on the unexpected and the little known. Travelogues are a dime a dozen, but the ones that find something fresh and unusual to talk about are fairly rare. Here readers will meet Elvis impersonators and other eccentrics; live through a goose attack mounted with military precision; and see the countryside the way they've never imagined it. A thoroughly delightful excursion. --David Pitt