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

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

1 comment:

Yokota Fritz said...

Rick, this is outstanding. Thanks for this.