Life, Death, and the Bike Races


The Bike Races have come and gone. This is one of those wondrous, improbable, uniquely Chico events that defies attempts at description. The Bike Races really need no fanfare or publicity, you were either there, or you were not—and if you were there, then you know what happened, at least you know your own peculiar version of events. But for the sake of documentation I will list some of my own personal highlights. This year’s theme was “states,” not altered states, but those odd geographical entities that make up this weird country. Nevada, New York, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Hawaii, and Florida were represented, in that order. Aliens and prostitutes featured prominently. Severance Package channeled their inner New York Dolls on stage at a representation of the world famous CBGB’s. The Shankers delved deep into the heart of Texas, and the dance party at the final house was beyond frenetic. It was an eruption of frivolity and joy, one of the greatest climaxes I have enjoyed as a being on this planet.

The gaiety ensued because we accomplished something—not simply getting drunk and having a great time. We collectively demonstrated a willingness and ability to self-rule. The Bike Races gives me hope for humankind. There is no plausible reason an event like this should exist, but it does. I think it works for a few reasons. The first is diligent planning and organization. The second is a top-notch security detail—this year representing the once and possibly future state of Jefferson—that keeps everything running relatively orderly while maintaining an atmosphere of fun. Finally, it’s the people involved and the energy they bring with them.

It turns my cynical side to putty and rekindles my idealistic fantasies for an anarchy-based utopia, at least for a couple of days.

Death or Glory!

Here on the home-front we are finally going to move on the underground pub that will be known as the “Death or Glory.” In fact we’ve got a dirt mover coming out this morning to give us a quote on the excavation. This is something I have been screwing around with on my own for the last couple of years, but finally have to admit that the tractor is simply not up for the task, and the wheelbarrow and shovel approach could lead us well into the 2020s before we have a chance to begin building.

Out in the Garden

The heat is up and along with it the tomatoes and peppers are starting to come to life. I’m taking yet another stab at potatoes. This time I’m growing simple russets, started from an old bag that went to eyes in the cupboard, and growing them in a circle of wire between layers of soil and straw.

I’ve never had any luck with potatoes—they come up, then they go down without a rhizome for the supper pot. It could be too much sun, and maybe I’ll tack a piece of shade cloth up over the wire.


Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.