Welcome to Santa Cruz County’s Bicycle Courier Blog

I thought it would be great to have a place where Bike Couriers and Bike Riders could meet and talk, share stories, trade advice, and build an online community. I look forward to reading and writing our Courier stories, news, and comments.

Rick Graves

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rick Graves Owner of Clutch Couriers Nominated for Nextie Award!

This feels a little like tooting my own horn, but it would be remiss not to mention that I was nominated by Jeremy Neuner for a Nextie award.



This kind of recognition comes only from the hard work of our crew and the support of our community. Thanks Jeremy, Clutch Riders, Clutch Clients and Denizens of Santa Cruz. I am deeply honored, and see you at the Nexties!

"The NEXTies honor young people in Santa Cruz who are doing amazing things locally or globally. These inspiring individuals could live anywhere, but they choose Santa Cruz to apply their talent and passion. These individuals might include entrepreneurs, artists or volunteers who are leaders in their chosen field and are making an impact on the community or the world. Nominees live or work in Santa Cruz County, are between the ages of 22 and 45, and have an inspiring story to tell."

'Hey Rick, I thought you might want to see the write-up that I submitted for your nomination:'

"Rick Graves is the owner of Clutch Couriers, a bicycle-powered courier, legal, and messenger service with clients all over Santa Cruz County. He and his team have built a successful business by focusing on superior customer service, a trait that is (unfortunately) rather lacking in our town. I've worked with Rick in a variety of ways and I've always been impressed with his can-do attitude, good humor, and attention to detail. In a town that (again, unfortunately) is often characterized by its slacker attitude, Rick and his team at Clutch Couriers stand out as people who work hard and play hard.

Here's what impresses me most about Rick: he saw a need in our community for a reliable, high-quality, environmentally-minded courier service. Rick's business isn't high-tech and I doubt that he's getting rich from it. But he wanted to find a way to live and work in Santa Cruz. He wanted to raise his kid here. And, by leveraging his talents and working hard, he filled that community need and found a way to have the lifestyle that he wanted for himself and his family. Moreover, Rick's business is innovative, successful, and environmentally sustainable.

I think Rick Graves stands as a great role model for the entire Santa Cruz NEXT community. Rick has shown us that by being innovative, by working hard, and by sticking to a set of core values, we can succeed in this town and create the kind of economy and the kind of lifestyle that will sustain our community for decades to come.

Plus, Rick is a total stud. He rides his bike to Watsonville and back several times a day. He deserves a NEXTie just for that.....!"


Jeremy Neuner
Co-Founder and CEO
NextSpace Coworking + Innovation, Inc.

Legality of Bicycle Courier Helmet Use in California

I've mostly tried to stay out of this because there is so much emotion involved with this issue you can't win no matter what you say. However, someone called expressing concern over some Clutch Couriers not wearing helmets 100% of the time, and threatened to "report me to the authorities" for not supplying helmets to my riders.
All I can say is that I recommend helmet use, especially in wet or high speed conditions, and that I try to set an example by wearing a helmet every time I work. Also there is a brand new Specialized helmet ($175) in the office for anyone who wants to use it, however, YOU CANNOT LEGALLY MANDATE HELMET USE FOR ANYONE OVER EIGHTEEN IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.
In this state it is an adult choice whether or not to wear a helmet while cycling and I encourage anyone driving around without a helmet to investigate the top causes of severe head injury (motor vehicle collision) before screaming out your car window to "get a f'ing helmet."

Ride Safe-RG

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Secrets to Longevity #3-Love

Just love yourself, love the ones you're with and love what you do and you'll have more than enough reason to keep living.

And just be thankful. Every breath is either a gift or a curse depending on that.

I'm not talking about easy postcard love. Love to me is often bewildering and sometimes frustrating.

I'm just saying if you throw yourself wholeheartedly into what you do-not keeping a cool distance but really caring about it-what emerges is always worth the effort put forth.

I love my life, my family, and my job of 15 years, but I know that so far I've just been practicing. The best part has just begun.

Nothin' but Love-RG

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advertising Clutch Couriers in Santa Cruz

First of all-let me say that the purpose of advertising is to get people to notice the product or service being offered.
Given that definition I would say that the ad campaign donated by our former messenger Nate was a success-We printed two posters featuring a male and female model and distributed them around town. Below is a sampling of the reactions:

"Looks like you are selling make-up"
"Awesome!-Really eye-catching and professional"
"Great job-got me to look and then I was pleased to see that it was advertising Clutch Couriers."
"Very different for Santa Cruz, I like it."
"She looks like a vampire in Twilight"
"What you need is a picture of a messenger with a helmet on in the sunlight, surrounded by flowers."
"At least you are trying to let people know that there are bike messengers here."
"Are you hiring?"

Also seen at the Farmers Market was a woman violently tearing down the poster of the female model.

Also seen at the Farmers Market was a gaggle of teenage girls drooling over the male model(Nate).

Thanks Nate and Crew! You still know how to get 'em talking.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Hipsters Discussing Cyclocross Racing!

The Next Big Thing!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Get your race on November 14th!

Asher invited you to "Dia De Los Muertos Alley Cat Race!" on Saturday, November 14 at 11:30am.

Event: Dia De Los Muertos Alley Cat Race!
What: Fundraiser for SOS Needle Exchange Program
Start Time: Saturday, November 14 at 11:30am End Time: Saturday, November 14 at 10:00pm
Where: Meet at the park in front of the Mission on High Street at Emmett Street

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nate King-Clutch Courier, Model and Photographer!

These pics supplied by Nate King-former Clutch Courier who moved back to Salt Lake to pursue a career in professional photography-Best of luck to you Nate we wish you well!-RG

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Model Clutch Courier

Check out the new model Clutch Courier

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secrets to Longevity #2-Pacing

When I first moved to New York I had no idea what a bike messenger was. The first time I saw one, I guess I was in his way as he flipped his chain around his waist and took off down the avenue in a puff of disgust. I thought "what an asshole, whats he in such a hurry for?"
As a couple of years went by and I saw more professional messengers I realized that these guys were working and trying to hustle on to the next pickup so I gave em wide berth and sort of was jealous from a distance as I hated my retail job and their gig seemed so much more adventurous and fun.
When I got into my first messenger job at Breakaway, orientation was a trip. The only guy out of about ten in the room that wasn't hired nodded out half way through. It was mostly hum drum stuff about if you lose a package yer fired, if you piss off a customer, yer fired-but one thing stuck out and seemed odd at the time. The owner Ron got real quite and deliberate when he talked about going the "pace of traffic". As he put it if you are on 9th Avenue and the traffic is going 50 miles an hour you need to be doing the same. If traffic is stopped you need to be passing them at 5-10 miles an hour or less-to go faster is to invite death! It seemed ridiculous and I know he was exaggerating to make a point but when you think about it, he's right. To survive you need to go the pace of life at the moment. Every stopped car you pass at 40 miles an hour is a potential immovable object in your path and the faster you go the harder it will hurt when they hit you.
Every situation has an appropriate pace-the secret is finding that sweet spot for the moment you happen to be in. There is a certain pace to hit every green light on Soquel and 9th Avenues-there's also a pace to hit every red. There's a pace for 25 and a pace for 40. It's no mistake that in road bike races and in alleycats the less experienced riders with more to prove are used as fodder at the beginning to egg on the competition and provide cover for the veterans whose endurance takes over towards the end.
One of the beautiful things about this job is that it forces you to be present in your body and determine that perfect mix of urgency and relaxation you need to get the job done right. If you are too self-indulgent and up in your head the mistakes and accidents snowball.
So pace yourself my friends. Life is only a race when it needs to be, and it's better to be late in this world than early to the next.

Much Love-Rick

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy National Boss Day!

Again, no card!-RG

Boss's Day (also known as Bosses Day or National Boss Day) is a secular holiday celebrated on October 16 in the United States. It has traditionally been a day for employees to thank their boss for being kind and fair throughout the year. The holiday has been the source of some controversy and criticism in the United States, where it is often mocked as a Hallmark Holiday.
[edit] History
Boss at play

Patricia Bays Haroski registered "National Boss's Day" with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958. She was working as a secretary for State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois at the time and chose October 16 because she forgot that the birthday of her boss, who was her father, was actually on the 16th. Four years later in 1962, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner backed Haroski's registration and officially proclaimed the day.

National Boss's Day has become an international celebration in recent years and now is observed in countries such as Australia, India and South Africa and very recently Ireland.

Hallmark did not offer a Boss's Day card for sale until 1979. It increased the size of its National Boss Day line by 90 percent in 2007.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More hating on the fixie fad

Great perspective on the fixie fad @


Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy 10-9 Messenger Appreciation Day!

Happy Messenger Appreciation Day!Should be an international holiday-photo is NYC 1896

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Secrets to Longevity #1:Bicycles

As the workweeks and bike to work weeks fly by I am reminded to share four secrets of longevity-bicycles, pacing, yoga , and love.

Bicycles are fascinating to so many people for different reasons.
For me bicycles are an exquisite means to an end-that incredible feeling of freedom you get that could only be described as flying. I remember the act of learning to balance on a two-wheeler as one of my first significant confrontations of fear, an assertion of independence out there in the world, the realization that I must press forward or fall over.
Many people lose this feeling once they get their drivers license and adult cycling is left to wide array of factions, all with various baggage and class divisions. It's a pity that cycling isn't seen as a more approachable sport or activity by the mainstream. I know of no better bridge between a very adult functionality and the sheer joy of childhood.
Sometimes I feel people are discouraged to pick up a bicycle by how intimidating all the cliques on the road are. When I wear my helmet and ground-scored maui-jim sunglasses I hear comments about how my bike must be worth thousands of dollars(it was $375). When I wear my chrome messenger work-bag I get lumped in with hipsters on fixies even though I have gears and brakes.
The best thing I think all these groups get and hopefully will appeal to more and more people over time, is the conquering of one's fear of vulnerability, the ability to get off your ass and feel great while seeing the world. I swear it's the cure for depression or whatever ails ya.

Of all the modern human inventions the bicycle may bring the most joy of life. So lets enjoy the ride.

Keep the rubber side down-Rick

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bell Helmets

Loving my new helmet! Finally comfy! Gonna return the Specialized that was giving me forehead cancer.
This is a Bell Volt-a little pricey at $175 but Moms would say it's worth it. Thing is I used to get clucked at by the roadies and envirogencia for not rocking a helmet-now the hipsters sneer at me while flipping up their little caps-no pleasing some. PS you're not from Europe.

Live and let live-RG

Monday, September 14, 2009

Preventative medicine is bike fitting!

As you can see there's a big difference between how I've been riding for 15 years and how it supposedly should be done. The bottom picture is the bad fit.
For my 40th b-day I treated myself to a professional bike-fitting with Wade at The Spokesman http://spokesmanbicycles.com/
It was a learning experience and Wade was really friendly and instructive, plus they extend a fat discount to working messengers!
The proof will be in the pudding tho' and I will update as to how the new fit feels over a long week of mashing to Watsonville and back.
Big ups to all The Spokesman crew for your help!

Ride Safe and Ride Another Day-Rick

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wu Wei and helmet or no?

Kinda hating on my new helmet-Can we please make a cap that will satisfy the people screaming at me "get a f-ing helmet" from their cars while still not feeling like it's going to give me forehead cancer from the LACK OF COMFY.
Oh well, I'm sorry moms but I'm far more likely to get severe head injury in a car or falling out of bed.
Does anybody else feel this way?-I know all the local folks preaching about "bike safety" like to let their hair feel the air on the weekends too. shhhhhhhh....

Peace out and stay safe with knowledge of self and respect for those sharing the road.-RG

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Real Oldest Profession-Messenger!

Chasque-The Unstoppable Messenger

Long before there was money to pay for sex and goats to herd, somebody had to deliver the news to the cave next door. Whether it was good news-"The Mastadons are over the next hill!"-or something that might anger the recipient-"Your wife lives in Ork's cave now."-someone had to be trusted to securely transmit the message, and be neutral to the consequences of the message getting across.
Over the ages, the fates of whole civilizations have hinged on this sacred trust. From the tides of war carried to Athens to Bill Clinton's secret love letters to Monica Lewinski, the whole reason for the messengers existence was based upon his or her loyalty to the secure transmittal of the message.
This is why the professional courier must practice neutrality. I'm not saying that what Clinton did was right or that Athens shouldn't have been burned down by the Spartans, it's just that there are two sides to every story and it's not my place to say.
If every messenger dithered about the whether it is morally correct to get the message across, nothing would ever get done. Our job is to get everyone informed and then let the judges and lawyers sort it out.
This is why I believe a courier service wedded to a political philosophy is doomed to failure and a danger to the trust placed in our profession.
In Santa Cruz a slogan-happy ideology -"One Less Car"-is being attached to the messenger image. This has created a class division between those of us doing it to make a living and because we love the job, and those who are doing it to save the world-"one bike at a time" while gaining social status in our liberal community.
While this may help people feel good about themselves, it ads an unwanted connotation to bicycle delivery and undermines the only true value we can sell to the market-our dedication to the secure transmittal of the message while remaining neutral to the parties and the consequences of delivery.
You might say "if you want neutrality why not use a machine?"-because the truly important message must be trusted to a human vehicle. A machine will not run over water to get your message across. A machine will not find creative ways to get around obstacles in it's path. It will short circuit.
We are professionals and members of an ancient and noble trade-I have gotten messages through gale force winds, blizzards, floods, fires and armed guards, and I am proud to have done so.
I'm not too worried about our long term survival however. Long after all the "real jobs" have gone away and we're back to herding goats, someone will still have to deliver the news.

Clutch Couriers Forever!

-Rick Graves

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best Roadie v Hipster video ever!

You gotta get a chuckle from this one-The debate rages on!



Monday, August 3, 2009

Messengers who work hard...play hard.

The Kickballs! tournament


was a great example of how play is essential to the messengers long term survival. When I worked in NYC, messenger organized races called alleycats were the best way to get together, let off steam, and foster camaraderie. It wasn't really about who was fastest but how interesting and challenging the course was, and the after-party.
Reading the messenger boards and attending the "championship" circuit races these days you'd have very little idea that it's about the companionship and fraternity. It's all very serious and competitive and full of ready made conflicts.
Lets bring the fun back into messenger culture!-RG ps (Yer Out Zack!!!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kick Balls! Rockin' good time had by all.

Our Summer Kickball BBQ was a smashing success, much love to all those attending-more pics to come. Who knew Kickball was so gnarly-I'm still sore!-RG

Nate King-Messenger Extraordinaire!

I'm Nate, and I'm going to write my profile as a brutal exercise in narcissistic creativity. Enjoy!

I was a messenger in Salt Lake, and at some point in my life found myself in the beachside burg of Santa Cruz. It was in this murky, alcohol-fueled morass that I discovered Rick and Clutch. The rest is (a brief) history.

I used to race mountain bikes, so working as a messenger seemed a logical transition to the "real" world. I love a day full of legal runs, or busting ass down to Watsonville at a breakneck pace. I have a habit of not being able to ride slowly, and a knack for obliterating myself and equipment (both have more than their fair share of battle wounds). I love riding outside of work, too - you're likely to see me decked out in body armor at the local downhill mountain bike spot, or mashing up Empire Grade in lycra. I'm also fairly renowned for being a sarcastic, overconfident bastard, and I'm not sure I'd have it any other way.

And now, the Playmate Profile:

Name: Nate King
Age: 21
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Interests: Riding bikes of all shapes and sizes, hating on fixies/everything, current events/history, photography, design, music, snowboarding, attempting to surf, sleep
Favorite Band: It's always changing, but you'll usually find at least a little bit of Johnny Cash, Mogwai, Warren Zevon, and Flogging Molly in the current rotation.
Life Aspiration: World domination...duh? That said, I'll settle for professional photographer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stand in the place where you live-Thoughts on bridge building and burning

Somebody once told me that you shouldn't burn bridges, and I agree. I am going to roll with the analogy however and hopefully the reader can figure it out.

Sometimes bridges are built in the wrong location and for the wrong reasons-like as a memorial to the builder or financier. Sometimes the world changes and a bridge is no longer well placed to provide access to where people want to go. This is when a new bridge needs to be built. A bridge that serves the true purpose of what bridges are for-giving traffic a way to get to the other side at the right spot where it is most needed.

When a bridge is built that makes more sense in terms of where it gives access to and from, and if it provides that service universally as opposed to selectively, traffic will naturally flow to that easement and access. As less traffic uses the old bridge, preferring the alternative, the old bridge may feel burned. It's not, it still exists, no one burned it down, it is just less relevant to the present public.

This is why Clutch Couriers was built-because the old bridges were no longer providing for the public at large. Santa Cruz needed a better alternative for providing professional courier services. Santa Cruz deserved a professional bike messenger company that was not wedded to a political ideology, and a better choice than the unsustainable all-motorized companies.

This is why the traffic is flowing to our bridge-because we are providing a legitimate link between commerce and ecology, and universal access to where it is most needed.

There are still many bridge building opportunities in Santa Cruz County. This is a beautiful place-why wouldn't you want to help make it work?

"That's why we got P.M.A." (Bad Brains)

In all sincerity,

Rick Graves

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Santa Cruz Good Times Article by Linda Koffman

As a young boy growing up in New Zealand, Rick Graves used to ride to school on the back of his older brother’s bike, holding on for dear life as his brother would tear down gravelly roads in an attempt to knock off the pint-sized passenger. At the age of 10 his family moved to Santa Cruz and, now, with those early recreational bike days and a stint as a professional bike messenger in New York City under his belt, the 39-year-old is the one tearing down local roads on two wheels. Transplanting the cut-throat tradition of the Big Apple’s urban bike messenger system to Santa Cruz since starting Clutch Couriers in 2006, Graves helms a model green business that’s seeing the rewards of putting the pedal to the pavement.
Initially a one-man operation founded with a $1,000 investment and operating out of Graves’ home, Clutch Couriers has grown into a six-person crew that can service businesses, personal deliveries and legal filing from Monterey to over the hill, and also provides in-house print jobs. Aside from the occasional use of his Honda Civic Hybrid (for access to the furthest spots), the company has built itself up by going back to the basics: high quality delivery at a low cost via bicycles. The ultimate low-emissions approach that also means less parking hassles, less mechanical maintenance and less insurance fees, the company’s overhead is also less so that the price for the consumer is cheaper. It’s not just a green alternative, Graves says, it’s the best alternative.
“I don’t know how many times you’ve been sitting in traffic and watched a bicyclist pass you, but if you really want something across town quickly that’s the way to go,” he states, sitting in bike attire in his new but modest River Street office, band posters printed on 100 percent recycled paper laid out on the floor ready to be plastered around the county by his team, his phone ringing non-stop. “Whether it’s for increasing the efficiency of your business or for the environment, it’s the best option for social change and it’s also the best option for good business.”
With a clientele you’re unlikely to find mingling in the same room, Clutch Couriers caters to the flyering needs of the Museum of Art and History, the Watsonville Brown Berets, Santa Cruz’s Hell’s Angels, Moe’s Alley and Temple Beth El, to name a few. Major daily accounts include handling the full-service banking for a local raw-foods company, delivering the mail for the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance of California and the Santa Cruz Metro Transit District, along with constant court filings from top Bay Area law firms. Establishing a route between Santa Cruz and Watsonville since last April, Clutch Couriers has hooked up the two regions so that commerce can now go back and forth in a sustainable way. In addition, Graves is a certified process server and notary. Just because he’s on a bike doesn’t mean he can’t answer the call of the white-collared conservatives.
“Ultimate change for the planet is going to come from the business community, because those are the people making what we consume and what we put out into the environment,” he says of his inclination to work for lawyers and corporate clients just as much as your local grandma sending cookies or your local rock band advertising a gig. “If you’re only promoting yourself to like-minded individuals, you’re not expanding your reach into conservative markets and you’re doing the environment a disservice.”
Covering important ground philosophically and physically, Graves rides up to 60 miles on his bike each day, and together his team racks up approximately 700 miles each week. His commitment to exceed customer expectations and prove that you can make a career out of something that’s a win-win situation for everyone and the environment, is what keeps his wheels turning.
The other reason he toils past you in traffic each day? Good old-fashioned fun.
“The personal aspect to it is, I won’t lie, it’s absolutely the most fun physical labor I’ve ever done and that’s why I’ve been addicted to it and worked so hard at it for over 15 years,” Graves explains matter-of-factly. He then muses in a softened tone, “At the end of the day, doing what you love just adds to your soul.”
Learn more about Clutch Couriers at clutchcouriers.com or 466-0560.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Asher Wilson-true fighting Irish!

Asher is our most seasoned rapper/messenger. It's a good thing to have the old curmudgeon on the crew who likes to work hard and inspire others while making us all laugh.

Cheers Asher, even if your profile is playboy bunny style-Big ups to you!-Rick

Likes:Puppies, Jujitsu, Hardcore, The Beach, Cartoons, Bikes, Jesus, High-Fives, Marvin Gaye
Dislikes:The State, Whiners & Crybabies, Injuries, Kooks, Rent, People Who Can Afford Fancy Track Bikes
Fav. Food: Tie: Vegan Sri Lanken/Soul Food
Fav Color [?]:Blue?
Fav Place:Tie:Lost Boys Train Bridge/Garden of Eden off 9
Fav Songs: Start Today-Gorilla Biscuits/What's Goin on-Marvin Gaye/Rise Above-Black Flag
Fav Breed of dog:Norweigan Valhund
Parting Words: "Stay Positive"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

David is the SUPER COURIER

Here is our third messenger profile featuring David Rothschild or as we like to call him "Super Dave".

"A couple of weeks back I went home for a few days to Sonoma Valley. Spring break had just started and Mom's cooking was calling. I always have mixed emotions about going home and I'm sure you can all relate, but this trip was different. I enjoyed all the old faces and places and the trip helped me appreciate where I am in life. I've got a sweet job, school is taking me places I could never have imagined and I have good people in my life that make it all worthwhile.

After spending a few days doing some hardcore relaxing, it was time to saddle up and get back on the bike. On my last day my buddy Taylor one of my oldest friends and I bike riding machine, took me on one of his training routes through the backroads of the Sonoma and Napa Valleys.Although he dropped me when we hit our biggest climbs, he at least had the common courtesy to wait for me at the top and take pictures of me as I struggled to catch up. The next day I was back at work and heading down to Watsonville. Even though I was on the clock, I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather be doing."

Owners Note-I met David mashing back from Watsonville and hired him on the strength of his moxie. It's been a real honor watching him grow and find his way, we'll miss him when he leaves on June 1st to bring affordable nutrition options to the backwoods of Arkansas.-Rick

Friday, April 3, 2009

Juliette Pelligrini -Clutch Courier and Good Citizen!

Our second messenger profile-

A bike incident-Juliette

Sunday evening I headed down from the westside. I took a left turn onto Cedar street into the bike lane. All of a sudden a man took a left hand turn out of the Poet and Patriot alley into my lane . I hit the breaks and paused, bracing myself as he passed me. I took a moment and shook my head. I rose to find a young man running holding a laptop, closely followed by a younger gentleman running screaming, "that kid has my laptop" repeatedly with every last breath. The man who just missed me by inches followed the man with the laptop alongside boy without a laptop. I took a right onto the alleyway and was able to intercept laptop man as the near bike crash man rode directly into laptop man. Sending the laptop crashing onto the pavement. I picked it up and returned it to a very out of breath boy. The man got away but not with a laptop-bikes save laptops-

-Keep Rolling-

Juliette/Clutch Couriers

Fixies get Kanyayed

I'ts over Hipsters! You have been officially Kanye'd. You must now all install shutters in your Raybans. ;)


Monday, March 30, 2009

New Life

Spring has sprung! And with it new ways of seeing the world:
Just when I was getting all ageist this kid writes me this amazingly eloquent email about his love of fixies, the Tao Te Ching and Clutch Couriers-If he represents just a part of the future of urban cycling I am inspired and refreshed by his attitude. Andres, I hope that your practice of Wu Wei can help keep you from getting hit by "that car".

Stay alive to see another Spring! Rick

Hey my name's Andres. 19 years old hailing from Davis, CA now living in San Francisco. I stumbled upon your blog on google when i was looking up the story behind Lucian Gregg. I heard his story through a few friends but no one seemed to have details on how or why he died. But this email isnt about Lucian, its more or less about the love of cycling for what it is. Growing up in Davis, i got a lot of things other kids my age in other areas didn't get and thats first hand exposure to bike culture and i mean the kind of bike culture that is rarely seen in this day. My best friend in elementary school is a bike fetishist and makes a shit ton of bikes from spare frames/parts he finds around town. He specializes in unconventionaly yet totally practical bikes. This was my first experience with fixed gears. At that age, i didnt understand the appeal, i just thought of it as ancient technology and what not. I stuck to a lower-end mountain bike in my youth, a Specialized Hot Rock. I rode to school everyday and took pride in perfecting whip skidding to a halt on the greenbelt by my house. Since high school i remember being opinionated about single speeds, thinking that stripping my bike down to a single gear is retarded and remained firm on this ideology until early 2008.
In my senior year of high school i picked up a road bike from my uncle, a 1987 schwinn circuit with full Suntour Sprint components in fairly good condition. My dad and his brothers had been into cycling in the late 80s and i was in the midst of getting over a very very very devastating break up (i was 17 and stupid-er than i am now)and i wanted to pick up some new hobbies to rebuild my life. I started pushing myself harder on a bike after that day. I fell in love with cycling and it helped that i was already really comfortable on a bike. Fast forward a couple years where i get over my hate for ss/fg and get my very own track frame in october of last year and become skilled at handling traffic and hills in sf.
For a long time i've felt isolated in my view of bikes. I dont hate on hipsters with brand new bianchi pista concepts with matching celeste aerospokes, i appreciate the look of their bike but i do hate that when i talk to those people, i realize we're on two different planets. Im working as a mechanic at a bicycle co-op at my college and a couple of the guys that help out there are new to biking and especially new to fixed. But what really pisses me off is the attitude of some messengers/friends of messengers that think that track bike use on the street is EXCLUSIVE for messengers. You can see why this sucks and you hopefully feel like i do. I keep my bikes practical and like Peter Wagner, the Davis Bike Fetishist (http://daviswiki.org/WhymCycles), i ride for the pure joy and release. At the end of the day though, when i get on my bike, all of the previous statements made by whatever dickheads that day get brushed of my shoulder by the strong breeze from going so fucking fast. While i'm new to san francisco, i still consider myself a skilled cyclist. Im taking a class on Taoism and i saw on your blogpage that you are familiar with the Tao Te Ching. I find that biking increased my skill in tai chi which in turn helps my biking. The lessons taught by the Tao are exactly my attitudes about biking. Being in harmony with your enemy, the young and reckless Benz driver, and accepting defeat, slowing down before yellow lights, has kept me breathing and healthy to this day. I've met a few messengers and they've felt the same way i do about bikes and i'm glad i stumbled on your blog because you are an exceptional example of what my philosophy seems to lead to. Consider an alleycat in the present day. You show up and see a group of messengers, and a few feet away is a mass of hipsters, next to them is a group of older people on mountain bikes, of course some more hipsters show up, and lastly there is always one or two guys with the nicest road bikes you've seen in a while. With so much diversity before the race, its rare to see members of each group mingling with other groups. Start the race, wait a couple hours and after enduring the hardships and dangers of racing on the city street, everyone who finishes has a newfound respect for one another and enjoy a few beers together ending the night with a few new friends. This is why i bike. This is why im proud to bike. I know that i am bigger than the hate that gets flung at us, even by our own kind and i can come out on top at the end of the day.

For the record, i dont run brakes on my fixed gear in the city. It's stupid and dangerous and i definitely dont reccomend it. I do it to train myself not to waste energy and try to plan my path by slowing down as little as possible, i try to avoid skidding as much as possible as well as im a broke college student that cant afford a new tire every month. I do however put a brake on my bike when i go back home to davis because its definitely not worth getting ticketed by the police. I know one of these days my number will be up and i'll get hit again by a car for not having a brake, i just hope i'm wearing my helmet and am able to walk away.
Good luck

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Zack is a Clutch Courier and more!

As promised-here is the first of our Clutch Couriers messenger profiles featuring Zack:

"Hey whats up, I'm Zack, rookie of the crew. I've lived in Santa Cruz all of my life and worked in everything from retail and food service to Boardwalk ride operations and door to door canvassing. Finally I've found a job that really feels fun and extremely satisfying, not to mention useful to the Community.

In addition to cycling I also am passionate about Rock climbing. almost every weekend I've been going to amazing cliffs and boulders in Yosemite, Bishop, and Castle Rock. I guess it's the simple things that I like to enjoy and find complexity in, whether it's moving important documents from one place to another, or finding the hardest way to get to the top of a cliff or boulder."

Rick's note: Zack enjoys lettuce, long walks on rocks, and is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. Rock on Zack, you won't be a rookie for long.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Clutch Couriers and Country Living

Having been raised in rural New Zealand, spent most of the nineties living in New York City, and call Santa Cruz my home off and on for 20 years, I have a unique perspective on different and sometimes conflicting social mores. In NZ you walk a mile to have tea with your neighbor, in New York eye contact on the subway is seen as a threat, and in Santa Cruz you are only truly cozy with those who share your politics.
Given these perspectives and influences I sometimes lurch back and forth depending on my context. One interesting experience has been the interactions between myself and other cyclists on the sometimes lonely nineteen mile stretch of road between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Since our daily arrival early last April I have made it a point to wave at all cyclists on Freedom Boulevard between Aptos and Watsonville. Partially a countrified habit from my childhood and partly because I figure things can go bad for cyclists in isolated areas and we might need to help each other out at some point,(most motorists will not).
The reactions to this have run the gamut and as a rule it is a good reflection of cyclists as a general group. The first few months only one out of twenty roadies returned the gesture, although a cold nod was more common. The rate of response has gradually crept up as some regulars have begun to recognize us. Most field workers on mountain bikes are oblivious to it although some locals have begun to recognize and are the most genuine with their returning smiles. Some Pedx'ers smile and wave, some most certainly do not. But most interesting is the roadies that have begun to race us. This guy in his 30's or 40's drafting me a good 3 miles, I looked back and warned him I had to snot-rocket. He excitedly said "you keep a good pace" before peeling off. Right on my brother, so do you, and I live for these moments. In contrast the drafting douche-bag who thought I was talking to him when I muttered "purty flowers" (I love spring in Corralitos) and then passed me on the right only to slow down, has got to learn the rules of the road-maybe the hard way.
Regardless, what goes around doesn't always come around, so I promise to all of you on the road that if I see you in trouble I will stop and help in any way I can, even if I have a bag full of rush filings and minutes to get them there.

Peace out, Yo!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Keep Rolling!

Just know that amidst all the bad news and the world falling down around our ears we will keep rolling and growing and learning what it takes not only to survive but to thrive-My heart goes out to all those losing their jobs at an ever-increasing pace-keep your head up-we can guilt-trip our Grandchildren about how we made it through the real "Great Depression"-see you at the food bank!

"Crisis equals opportunity"-Ancient Chinese Proverb

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Website upgrade!

Finally a new design for our website!!!

Go to www.clutchcouriers.com and hit refresh. Many thanks to Josh Long (Macaframa) and Mike Scirocco (El Rio) for all your help with this process-your skills and patience are so appreciated. Also a special shout out to all our customers and friends from SC to NYC who have contributed to our progress and encouraged us along the way. We live in paradise, have a dream job and owe it all to you. We are grateful.
Coming soon-messenger profiles on the about page and FTP site embedded in our print section.
PS this was taken by Clutch Courier Juliette at The Bean (La Friholitas) in Watsonville on Brennan and East Beach. The best eats for Watsonville High students and hungry messengers alike-check it out.

Live the dream! Rick

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flicker Photo

Richard Masoner took this photo at the opening of the pedestrian bridge across San Lorenzo-he also gives props to messengers who use gears-Yay Richard!!


"This is bike messenger Rick Graves, owner of Santa Cruz Clutch Couriers. He was riding a Bridgestone RB-1, a bike designed by the legendary Grant Petersen. Like the bikes of many real messengers, Rick's bike is equipped with gears, which are especially handy given the hills he traverses everyday as he transports documents from Santa Cruz to the county courthouse in Watsonville."-Richard Masoner


Stay safe-Rick