Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Adrenaline rush

Back when I was around 19, I worked a summer as a bike courier. I'd just dropped $700 canadian greenbacks (the $1 bill, which no longer exists, could be called that because it was actually green, unlike the red twos, blue fives...) on a Norco mountain bike with STS rapid fire shifters - it was the first year that ANY company had come out with them (yes, I'm that old) and they were awesome.

So I got into biking a lot, got some city slicker tires, and signed up for a courier job as it seemed a nice way to spend the summer.

It is a nice way to spend the summer, but not a nice way to make money. The summers get a slowdown in business and combined with a glut of riders, it's hard to get too much out of it. Plus the full-timers tend to have relationships with the dispatchers and get favored (as they should). It breaks into two camps: The summer kids in their fancy gear & shiny bikes cruising around at 25mph, and he full timers, on rusted old beaters wearing jean and army jackets and cruising around at 35mph with a cigarette butt hanging out the corner of hte mouth. hardcore.

Anyhow, I was pointed to this awesome site (thanks Charles!) today with videos of couriers having some races on off hours. I watched "NYC drag race" and TOTALLY remembered the adrenaline rush of racing in heavy downtown traffic at high speed.

Montreal is an island in the middle of the st laurence seaway, and the island has a mountain in the middle of it that's a big park. So, a lot of the city is hilly. A common delivery to make was from architects (many in hip converted old buildings in the old part of the city on the waterfront) to lawyers (many in fancy brownstones up on the mountain) or vice-versa. In other words, uphill, or down.

Several times a few of us would find ourselves at a little depanneur (corner store) up near the lawyer-rich area during a slow period, and would make a bet to race down to the waterfront. Something like this, only we'd zig-zag it a lot more. It was nuts because you'd get up to speed going down this hill, and then it'd just BLOOP! dump you into heavy downtown traffic. Any stopping at traffic lights and you'd never catch the rest of the guys, so it was all about timing the gaps in traffic and running the red.

Anyhow, I'm 50 pounds heavier now (did I actually 125 at one time? Ugh.) and at least 50 iq points smarter, so you won't see a repeat of that! However, if you want an idea of what it's like, check out some of the videos!

No comments: