Every morning when I wake before work, the first thing I do is check the window to see what the weather is like. Today I opened my eyes to see gloomy gray through the curtains. The warm happy feeling I had from a recent trip to Toronto was rapidly fading. The US Postal service has some fancy jingle about “neither sleet nor rain will keep them from…”. Yeah, yeah whatever. I am a bike messenger and although we have relatively the same job, delivering envelopes and parcels, today I wasn’t all chirpy about riding in crappy weather.
I dressed for the possibility of a crappy day, bringing a rain jacket but forgot to wear rain pants. I left home hoping the clouds would pass without dumping their payload. It was only after a few deliveries into the morning when big rain drops began a steady soaking. It might not have been so bad had I ridden my bike with fenders. In my pre-work sulking, I neglected to fix the flat on the front wheel, dooming me to suffer for my lack of earlier action. Instead, I rode my mountain bike that threw the most water upward from the road with every revolution.
By mid-day I was soaked head to toe. I had forgotten to zip my rain jacket to the neck and the vent zippers under the arms. I was collecting water like a sinking submarine. My shoes squished with every pedal stroke or step when walking through buildings. My vacation was definitely over. After acknowledging that the conditions couldn’t get worse, I settled into the misery.
There is an awkwardness about walking around soaking wet. People in buildings repeatedly ask the question, “Is it still raining?” It is a reminder of how you got wet, the water swirling around inside of your shoes and that after the conversation you will return without umbrella into the rain. Since I had resigned myself to suffering in the wet, I trudged through it. My only focus was just keeping my packages dry. When my clothes finally couldn’t hold any more water, the rain stopped. The clouds broke late in the afternoon to reveal warm blue skies.
The misery I expected to endure for the entire day was transforming for the better. As I continued to ride, most of my clothes dried. The temperature increased to something pleaseant in the 70 degree range. My mood elevated knowing I wouldn’t have to ride with wet diaper ass. There is also an unspoken bonding moment when messengers that have endured crappy weather see each other at the end of the day. Chatting with some of the regulars about my recent vacation did even more to raise my spirits.
When the end of my work day arrived I happily began my ride home. At one point I passed a sedan occupying most of a bike lane. I squeezed through the narrow space between the curb and the slowly moving car. With on hand on the handlebars, I ran my other hand across the roof of the car and calmly told the driver through the open moon roof: “I’m right here dude”. I heard a group of pedestrians behind me shout, “You took that pretty good.” I looked back, informing them that I don’t get paid to get upset. They warned me to be safe. Smiling, I told them that’s why I wear my helmet.
Hump day complete, a surprisingly good day despite the ugly start.
Y’all should know that this Friday is Bike To Work Day. In case you don’t know, film production company, Imagery with Impact, has created this promotional video contrasting the experience of a bike commuter against a car commuter starting their days. Admittedly, this is a romanticized piece. The cyclist has perfect weather, gets no flats, doesn’t get swerved or yelled at, and basically has an idyllic commute into work. With that said, this DOES happen, and even with all the normal frustrations that can pop up on a commute into work, the accomplishment always outshines the doldrum of car commuting. If you’ve been commuting for years, keep at it. If you’re new to the whole idea, watch this video and join a ride in your area to get a taste of what it’s all about.
We’ve featured Josh Estey’s videos before, and now we share his latest. Fixed Gear California follows an ill-advised tour along the coast on a two-speed fixed/free build. No maps, an overly ambitious goal and a blown out hub cut the trip short, but the video sure is nice.
The Kemistry gallery in London will be hosting Grand Boucle through the month of May. Designer, Christoph Reichart, and printer, Dolly Demoratti, have pulled together a visual collection that showcases racing bikes and paraphernalia dating back to 1903. The show displays bikes and bespoke saddles, but also highlights head tube badges in a series of oversized screenprints that can be purchased at the gallery or online, so no one misses out.
They have also pulled together a Grand Boucle magazine for the show and silkscreened photographs that can also be purchased online. The oversized head tube badge prints are beautiful and would look great on any shop, garage or home wall if you ask me.
BikeTags are kind of like the personalized bike license plates that kids love, but for kid-like adults. At just $4 each they’re a low commitment purchase, good for flying your freak flag every day or for that particular group ride. All sorts of messages are available, or submit your own, though I don’t know how wise it would be to ride around with a tag that screams “Beer!” or “Weed!”, though maybe you live in Colorado or Washington where at least the latter won’t get you searched by an observant officer. Tie one on at www.mybiketag.com