The P. I. proclaims the immanent demise of bike messengers in today’s issue. It’s true I’m sure that the number of messengers are down, but I doubt Messengers are the urban buffalo of the late part of the first decade of this millennium. The reports of messenger death are greatly exaggerated from what I can tell – check the following:
Transportation Alternatives from 1996 (The industry is too squeezed to pay messengers in NYC);
The Economist from a decade later;
the Sydney Morning Herald and BCBusiness from just last year.
Meanwhile, if you like your media closer to home, check out Pilder’s blog, of one of the messengers in the PI article.
Messengers gone? Could be, doesn’t seem like it’ll be right away to me. I’d be very sad to see the days of paid-to-ride fall by the side of the road, but that doesn’t seem like what’s happening either. I imagine we’ll actually see more pedal-powered traffic on the roads as oil prices top $100/gal. Maybe not so much for moving documents though – here’s a local pizza joint who delivers by bike (on Cetma racks no less).
It’d be a big blow to lose this very physical culture from our city, and digital documentation does seem like it’s making a dent. Messengering is the quit-my-job fantasy for more than a few of the very folks enabling these digital docs (myself included). But my money’s on this buffalo surviving. And as Byron wrote earlier, The Hip and the Dead.
p.s. As always, the PI Soundoff darkly funny in it’s over the top anti-cycling response.
Just 2 years ago, fixies and messengers were hip and now sadly described as a dying breed; well, I don’t trust media predications anymore than anyone else and messengers will always have a place in Portland and in bad-ass races like this one in NYC.
As noted in the comments below, after posting this entry, I was tipped to the Tour of Chicago death and read the news about it.
What was intended as a snappy post title now means more and our regrets and sympathies go out the Chicago cycling community. The video itself is legendary, anyone riding like that I think is “bad ass,” but I wish the timing had been different and feel very sad about what happened.
Super-advanced, aero (16.4% lower wind resistance that regular pants), horizontal cords are reported to look great on the bike and in the office! If you need bike pants and want to impress your bike geek friends with some tech that ain’t lycra or soft shell, check Lindland Cordaround.
I was down at the beach walk at Lincoln Park this lovely weekend when I ran into not one but 3 separate folks on trials bikes, perfecting their skills in the area.
The photo’s of KC who hails from Denver. He rode trials back in CO for quite a while, but hasn’t been so active since coming out to the Pacific North West. No better excuse than a sunny Saturday to take your seatless wonder down to the beach and practice side hopping on some old beach logs.
Apparently Seattle’s not a hot bed of trialing activity, but our neighbors to the north in Vancouver seem to have it going on. Mike Bentham ‘s great video featured a while ago is just one example.
More details about KC’s ride, riding and trials inside…
I know I’m not going to do any justice to KC’s bike, I’ll try my best given I’m more or less a commuter dude. KC was riding a Monty 221pr. Nice wide low pressure tire in the back running at what must have been somewhere in the 25 PSI range, smaller tire up front. I’m shocked these guys don’t get pinch flats all the time. Rim brake on the back (didn’t get a chance to see if it was hydraulic or not, could have been the HS-33 though), disc on front – looked a lot like an Avid. No seat, which seems pretty standard for trials bikes, although some come with the teeniest saddles you’ve ever seen. Aside from the no-seat, the weirdest looking thing was no chain, at least that’s how it looks. The gearing is set up insanely low, something like 18/12 which means you can barely even see the chain along side the stays. No clips on the pedals, just big flat BMX pedals. This is the first trials bike I’ve seen up close (and ridden, thanks KC!), and despite it’s odd looks it rides pretty much like a bike with a no-ratio gearing. No, I didn’t try any tricks.
KC was out in the Saturday sun, hopping on top of burned, randomly placed beach logs, sans helmet or other protective gear. I can’t imagine, given the acrobatics, and the seeming ease of a bad fall on to the rocky beach. He’s had a couple of rough looking spots on his knees, but then so do I. He was handling the bike very well, so I’ll assume his bumps and bruises are from household bashes like mine. Pretty impressive stuff for a noob like me – riding up and over the logs, along the logs, one-wheel on top of the logs, hopping log to log, side ways across 2 logs, and generally making it look easy.
Bike Trials have been around for a long time, and surprisingly came from doing something similar on Motorcycles – imagine hopping over obstacles on a motorcycle with no seat. Wanna try this stuff out on your bike? Trash-Zen has the details.
I haven’t seen any other trialists in Seattle, but I probably don’t get out enough. I was glad to see a bit of cycling diversity in the city, plus an impressive display of skills. You can catch more of the show (pardon my bad photos) in the Bikehugger Urban Bikes stream. Looking forward
In the Seattle Times today, there was a report about a guy who conned a string of NW bike shops into letting him take wicked expensive bikes out on test rides that he intended to be…let us say…extended. Basically, he posed as a medical professional who was ready to lay out some serious cash for a top dollar bike, and the shops blissfully let him ride out the door on multi-thousand dollar carbon bonbons with little more than his (fictitious) first name and his reassuring smile. But in the end, he got caught.
The guy left a Tulley’s thermo mug with the name “Jake” on it after riding off on a Cervelo from Speedy Reedy’s shop in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle early last year. Well, the cops used DNA testing to match to a prior conviction in Ohio for credit card fraud. That led them to a 35 yr old podiatrist in Longview WA named Jacob Bos. He has been charged with 12 counts of selling and possessing stolen property.
Turns out the guy was an active member of the NW racing scene. (The Times used the word “elite”, but I’m a Cat4 on the road too, and I don’t call myself “elite”.) Apparently, he was riding, racing, and even selling to fellow racers the bikes he had stolen. No one had any idea, not those who raced with him, not the owners of the clinic he worked. The guy must have been pretty smooth.
The cops have already recovered a few of the bikes from those unsuspecting racers who purchased them off of Bos. The Times article talks about the loss of trust in the racing community. But as much as he might have been able to convince others that he was authentic as a racer, I think the stronger factor in the shops letting him out the door without surrendering an ID and credit card had to do with Bos being able to convince others that he was wealthy and respectable. It could have easily been some other kind of merchandise theft, but it just happened to be bikes, maybe out of convenience. After all, you can’t make a getaway by pedaling on a stolen plasma tv.
I was riding in Maui, near Napili when this bike zoomed out, across the highway and ahead of me. I wouldn’t have caught it if she hadn’t stopped to get her mail. Later, she wrote us and said
“It was fun meeting you yesterday here on Maui.I just started riding my electric bike to my business, West Maui Wellness Center, and I have to be so careful. The issue here on the island is the lack of bike lanes. The lower road here on West Maui not only is sketchy, there aren’t sidewalks for the pedestrians and the bike lanes come and go. Everyone drives over the speed limit here, too.
The bike is a Tidal Force with a Wavecrest Lab’s electric motor hubs. Googling the bike resulted in news that it’s no longer imported into the USA, but from talking with Laura it sounded like it was new.