Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bolts and Real Estate

Out of the five bolts that hold my chainring to my cranks, only three remain. I guess it was almost to weeks ago now that I was riding up Avenue of the Americas and noticed my chain being way looser then normal. It was because all my chainring bolts were either missing or lose. I rearranged the bolt pattern to spread the load out among the remaining bolts. That worked great until yesterday when the bolts came lose again. I only managed to tighten one of them without the proper tool. It got the job done. The chain and chainring all stayed put and I made my rounds on schedule. Scraping by lean on the chainring bolts reminds me of a sketchy practice of a few pro mountain bikers I know where they'll use only 3 of 5 rotor brake rotor bolts to save weight. Ahem, JB...

After last night's epic last run the boys at Cyclehawk let me roll home at 5:30 today. I used the opportunity to check out City Bicycles Bike Shop and get some new stainless steel chainring bolts. This is the NYC Messengers bike shop of choice. Its long and narrow storefront is lined with the usual road/mtb gear suspects and a nice stash of cool messenger gear. I have to admit I find myself drooling over the sweet nylon radio holsters and messenger bags more than the fancy racer boy stuff. You get true function for your money and.... more money as the case may be if you actually use the gear for work. I also met the owner who is also a frame builder. He filled me in on all the major group rides North of the City. Unfortunately, riding a long distance is kind of the last thing I wanna do on the weekends at the moment. I got a call at 6:30 for some work to take me home. I was picking up a giant bundle of paychecks to take downtown for a real estate company. The package wasn't ready so I flipped through one of the many real estate capitalist magazines. It read more like a doomsday program than a "how to sell a happy new home and make a million dollars" journal. One article talked about how brokers are so desperate that they are starting to broker rental properties since no one is buying homes. Brokering rental properties is apparently considered "bottom of the barrel" and "only for losers".

When I was finished I took a high speed traffic wave down Delancey and over the Williamsburg Bridge to meet my punk rock buddy Zack for some burritos and Guitar lessons. I chose the late night ride through Brooklyn to my place in Cobble Hill instead of the train. I'm really trying to map this place out and it's cool to ride at night. I'm cashed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Getting shut in elevator doors.
Bitter and irritated doormen.
Pissed off drivers of all sorts.
Near misses.
Cold Toes and fingers.
Drinking a pretty large coffee in two minutes flat.
50 cent coffee "refills" at Starbucks. Same cup now for two weeks. Yep. "Get a card", they say, "and refills are free.". Oh? Maybe I will.

Today I went to what ended up being a wrong address. When I asked what floor the company was on the doorman muttered, "ain't here no more", too busy looking at an assortment of Porn DVD's to even look up. The salesman was standing there with his big bag of porn and asked me who I worked for as I talked to Kid over the radio. The dude was probably a messenger turned porn-pusher. A logical next step. Porn is one industry that likely survives a recession better than most. Funny thing about that wrong address is that the sender was in the same building as the receiver! Kid chimes over the radio and says, "you're not gonna believe this, but those guys are in the same building you just picked up from". I still had to ride but the folks who sent the package payed me to take it 16 floors up the elevator from their office.

Riding over the Brooklyn Bridge heading toward Brooklyn at night is, I think, more spectacular that riding toward the city in the day. You get a good spanning view of a lot of the bridges over the Hudson. Could also be the positivity generated from pointing in the direction of home.

Last runs of the day were wild tonight. I came downtown holding 2 packages with four pickups and they all had a deadline of 5:30 or 6. I ended up charging down through Wall st. and back up to the East Village to handoff a bunch of Chinese Herbs to Julio from Cyclehawk. I was sprinting through the night with my pack dodging people, cars and animals. Up Bowery and down Bowery to Grand and then Centre and finally 120 Chambers for the finale. I enjoy the evening rush. By 6pm everything is quiet.

We are the Meems and Pro.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Street meat.

The days are exhausting. The New York City way is all about being on the go, though, so I just “grab a slice”, fold it, and keep rolling. Cyclehawk begins taking pick-up calls at 8 A.M. about two and half hours after dispatchers Kid and Bobby leave the Bronx and enter the mass transit maze into the city. The subway delivers them about ten steps from 303 West 42nd Street, CycleHawk’s Times Square Headquarters. Meanwhile the riders, who are spread all over the Bronx, Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn, are gearing up for whatever the streets have in store for them. The Veteran riders are all on call in the City at 8 A.M. ready to go, long over the rookie drama that can hinder any casual workday. By rookie drama I mean, waking up to flat tires, dead radio batteries, dirty bikes, no clean shorts and sometimes just not waking up at all. Some of the vets even have families and 8 full hours of sleep under their belts! The Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges are loaded with messengers commuting to work in the morning hours. It’s easy to spot a messenger from the bike-commuting crowd. Even though the hipster trend these days closely emulates the messenger getup, the messengers will show a true bonded comfort level in utilitarian cycling gear and, depending on what the of the week and weather conditions, a haggard yet still pretty efficient, pedaling style. Lotta ins, lotta outs, really.

These holiday weekends make starting the work week very difficult. Last night I was in bed by one or so and I set my alarm for 7:30. This would leave plenty of time to go through a very bike racer-esque morning routine. One might even say it borders on ritualistic dependency. That alarm did not go off. Or, it went off and I didn’t hear it. Or, the computer that is my phone/alarm clock froze, like they do. Whatever it did, I didn’t hear it and slept until 8;45, 15 minutes before I should be at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Manhattan side! All I heard as I woke from my evening of restoration was the sound of my Nextel radio’s alert beep. Beep, beep, beep! Beep, beep, beep! I pressed the answer button and said, “good morning”, trying not to sound like I just woke up. Kid’s voice came over the radio and said, “ Pro, I need you in the city ASAP! Hurry up, ok, we’re busy and I’m short handed”. Ah, shit. “Ok”, I said and started gathering everything I needed, which in the winter is many layers, so many layers. I was still focusing on coming out of sleep completely while also trying not to forget things like gloves, pens, radio etc… And the basement I live in is so hot since it’s right by the boiler room. I end up putting all my gear on and immediately overheating from the heat and the dehydration of morning. It’s tough to judge what to wear sometimes. I’m always asking my self, “Do I really need this jacket?” Getting out of the house always leaves me overheating and winded after climbing two sets of narrow stairways with a huge courier bag, bike and faghetaboutit chain lock wrapped around my waist. I made it out a couple minutes after nine this morning after mainlining an Aloa Loa fizzing vitamin mix. No food. Hell, back in the day this was how the pro bike racers trained. It’s still the classic way to do a morning ride. It kick starts the metabolism and clears the liver! One of my first runs of the day was to 770 Broadway to pick up an offices mail and deliver it to the uptown office. The receptionist’s desk had a frickin’ bowl of candy on it the size of a bully’s candy bag after a night of beating up little kids for their candy on Halloween. The bowl was blooming with little individually wrapped, toxic, diabetes-bites. I had nothing in my stomach at this point. Nothing! The health-buzz from the Aloa Loa had long warn off and left me with that clean, anxious feeling of having earned something… Something bad. Just one. No! I can’t, I won’t, I… have no control. The guy behind the desk had to go in a back room to get the package and left me all alone with fake chocolate and other terribly crunchy and sweet things. I found my self putting piece by piece in my pocket like I was saving it for when things got really bad. The rest I just ate on the spot, justify every poisonous gluttonous bite. It goes right inline with my theory on donuts. They are best are best allotted occasionally in modest amounts rather than avoided entirely because once a dog tastes blood it goes insane! Only bad things come from this. Mimi knows. I’m still learning, always with the learning. My stomach was not happy when I left that place. Later in the day when I was back I noticed starbursts had appeared in the jar, so I had a serving of fruit. There is this public health service ad in the subway that reads: “When you don’t eat breakfast, you’re not all there”. Usually I would look at that and be like, “Oh, for the love, like people haven’t figured that out! “.

For Lunch I had a Halal chicken sandwich at one of those street food carts in the city. So good! It’s crazy how those guys pile these huge piles of meat in the corner the grill in prep for the lunch hour rush. It’s kind of creepy. “Careful you don’t get sick. They don’t call it street meat for nothin’!”, say’s Squid.

My bike is a pile right now and that’s pretty normal for this time of year. I always have ambitions of being one of those people who keep their stuff nice. I think I just ride harder than everyone else. The fixed gear is a beautiful thing when it’s snowy and icy on the streets. Not having a brake in that stuff actually makes sense since ‘gearing down with your legs is the best way to have any traction at all. Avoiding drainage grates and sewer covers is a general must. They are slicker than god even when dry. Speaking of NYC sewers, they are so key to the aesthetic of this city. Their steamy exhaust makes riding through any cross street into a cool scene from batman.

Coffee Cake toaster @ Cyclehawk.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The city must have had a big night out last night. I'm back in the starbucks at tompkins square after only one delivery in the last two hours. Rough. Now, I know I'm still paying my proverbial "dues" as a rookie messenger but everyone else I've been talking to in traffic or at the b side east villiage bar seems to be in the same boat. Maybe the people who would normally call a messenger are kicking off their new year saving a buck and using the delivery as an excuse to leave their own slow office. I've made some friends though with all this time to stop and chat. First thing they ask is "how many you had today?". Sigh. Nod. I bought a patch kit today at bicycle habitat. Recession patch party at my house tonight!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dear Anonymous

I'm about to experience this city in a new light. The post-holiday NYC. Since I officially landed back in early November, it's been complete holiday chaos and the sporadic work schedule that comes with it. The throngs of elated visitors in Time Square will, I'm sure, be no different but I'm curious about the flow of things in this city during regular days heading into Spring. Spring! Damn, actually, the hunker down is just beginning because though we've had some frigged, misery drenched days out in these gritty streets, it ain't over and the worst is probably still on its' way. Better to keep the mind there for obvious reasons. I've got some good pics of those gnar gnar days that hit right before the Xmas holiday shutdown. Squid (Cyclehawk Boss) and I did a mid-street, ankle deep in icy slush, photo shoot during a package hand-off. I'll put those up soon. I think Squid may have already if you go to his blog. And while you're at it check out this promo video for CycleHawk. I think Carlos who works for CycleHawk made it.

Blake Schwarzenbach from Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil is playing again and fronting the new band Thorns of life. They played a show here in Brooklyn back in November. I wasn't at the show but I've been planted on youtube for hours now listening to a few of the captured goods from it! My auntie Ruthie got me a Jawbreaker Album when I was in those turbulent teen years and I've been stoked on Blake's music ever since.