Tuesday, July 8, 2008


[From the STMcC archive: 2006, Sept. 15th]

*My grading scale is typical A through F, but with the very highest mark being an R, which is the equivalent of an A++. Why an R? Heck if I know. My Pa used to tell me that in high school he had a drafting teacher whose highest grade was an R. Pa never did learn what the R stood for, nor - sadly - did he ever achieve one.

Bicycle: Huffy "GOOD VIBRATIONS" Cruiser model

Grade: R

Where would Roy Rogers have been without Trigger? Where would The Lone Ranger have been without Silver? And Pecos Bill without Widowmaker, or Doc Holliday without Big Nose Kate? The indisputable fact is that every cowboy needs a horse to ride. And what with the price of gasoline and oats these days, is it any surprise that many of us urban cowboys have shifted to the two-wheeled variety of equine transportation?

The other day –- just on a whim -- I did an Amazon.com search to see if anything would come up when I entered in the name and style of my deeply beloved bicycle, THE HUFFY “GOOD VIBRATIONS” model cruiser. How exuberantly surprised I was to find myself staring at a photograph of my lovely, faithful “steed.” It’s still being made. Hooray! “Classic” cruisers are still in and I’m still astride mine (even if the “fenders” are long gone.)

Let me tell you about my bike: I bought my Huffy “GOOD VIBRATIONS” cruiser at Pep Boys in downtown Santa Monica, California, circa 1980, and brought it with me when I moved to Phoenix many years later. I’ve probably logged over 144,000 miles on mine. I used to pedal it every day before work on the beach bike path for exercise and for just the pure joy of it. My favorite ride took me from underneath the Santa Monica pier, through the human carnival of Venice Beach, around the boat slips of Marina Del Rey, and along the sand through El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, to the outskirts of Torrance, and then back again. Or to put it more succinctly: My favorite ride was Heaven on Earth!

And note: With the barest minimum of maintenance, I’m still riding on “GOOD VIBRATIONS.” Yeah, uh-huh, that’s right. About 26 years after buying my bike, it and I are still the best of friends; I’m still planting my “cushions” on its seat and still pedaling along the Phoenix canals, to the horse track, or to the grocery store, or to work. Now, how many years have you been driving your car? Think you’ll get 26 years out of it? Will you get 26 years out of your job? How ‘bout your marriage? Yeah, what I’m saying is that “GOOD VIBRATIONS” last and last…

But I had a real scare recently. The bearings in the doohickey that connects to the thingamajig had gotten wrecked and the handlebars were loose in the whatchamacallit. (Rode it that way for over a year anyway.) Finally took it in to a bike shop and “Homeboy” tells me to throw my best friend into a dumpster. “Homeboy” says it can’t be repaired. According to “Homeboy” the bike was basically junk when brand new; and that the fork could break on me at any moment and put me in the hospital.
Well, certain that “GOOD VIBRATIONS” could never hurt me, I put my buddy in the bed of my truck and drove it from Phoenix, Airheadzona, to Santa Monica, California, for one last beach bike path ride. I figured that if it broke on me during the ride, I’d just leave it on the beach to R.I.P. (Rust In Pieces).

Well, we made it from the Santa Monica pier to Torrance and back, just like the good ol’ days! The other riders could hear us comin’ up on ‘em because “GOOD VIBRATIONS” was loudly going “SQUEEEK – KREEEK – RATTLE – GROAN! / SQUEEEK – KREEEK – RATTLE – GROAN!” Other bikers probably thought he was crying in pain, but I recognized those sounds for what they really were: Singing! Joyful singing!

Back home, GFM (Good Friend Melanie) suggested that I take “GOOD VIBRATIONS” to see the nice, old gentleman who owns ROADRUNNER BIKE CENTER in Glendale, AZ. Two weeks later and my wallet only $34.59 lighter, “GOOD VIBRATIONS” is as good as new and ready to hit the canals again as soon as the weather cools down! (Why that dirty dog at the first bike shop! I think “Homeboy” just wanted to sell me some newfangled, multi-geared “horse.”)

Only one thing concerns me: My bike is clearly labeled “HUFFY – MADE IN U.S.A.” But are “GOOD VIBRATIONS” still made here? Or are they now produced in China? I urge you to investigate before buying because “GOOD AMERICANS” don’t financially support Communist countries that utilize slave labor, threaten their neighbors, imprison the religious, and force abortions on their women. Right? Right?!

Sometimes only poetry can express a cowboy’s love for his “horse.”

O my Bike, O my Horse
I've ridden twenty-six years
You have carried me through
Times of joy and times of tears

We’ve traveled city streets
And journeyed along the strand
I rarely gave you oil
You never bitched ‘bout the sand

Leaving California
You never said, “This is bad!”
You never once complained
(Though I kinda wish you had)

You never bucked me off
Never trampled on my hide
Never had a headache
When I said I’d like to ride

You are my “Black Beauty”
You are truly my best friend
I’ll shout it from rooftops
Though others I might offend

Because of you alone
I have known excitations
And more than The Beach Boys
You give me Good Vibrations

I feel so close to you
You are almost like my kin
Throw you in a dumpster?
No, I’ll throw that “Homeboy” in!

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


  1. Ah Stevie this one be one a my favorites brother.... Keep it up, and get them all over here some day ah...

  2. .
    Hey, thanks, BR'ER MARC!
    I think the best thing I ever wrote was that review for the book "DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER: Artists And Writers On Baseball", but this was definitely one of my better ones. ("Even the losers get lucky sometimes.")

    ~ STMcC
    <"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11>

  3. Stephen-

    Nothing like a good bike.My trusty Fuji still adorns my garage wall, after thirty-one years and more than 10,000 miles.

    I ended up buying a newer bicycle in 2004 since parts for the old girl were impossible to come by.

    That may have been why the first bike store steered you that way-he just did not have enough old bikes around to use for parts. And he wanted to sell you a bike.

  4. DC ~
    Oh, I'm sure he wanted to sell me a new bicycle. In the end, I just needed ball bearings replaced and some general refurbishing.

    I'm so glad I took the bike to that second shop, because it would have broken my heart to get rid of it.

    And once the weather cools down, I expect to do more riding than ever, since I don't anticipate that I'll be wasting so much of my time on blogging anymore.

    ~ Stephen
    "As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11


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