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, 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