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 29, 2013

Now We Are Seven! Clutch Couriers Grows Up - (sorta)

When I started Clutch Couriers seven years ago, it was out of desperation.

I had looked around the bike messenger co-operative that I had poured my heart and soul into over the last six years and realized that all of it's members were at cross purposes. One of them wanted to work from bed, a couple were just social climbing, and one of them wanted to keep his wages low so he didn't have to pay taxes. Since we were a co-op in the strictest sense that meant we all had to keep our wages low, kinda like Soviet Russia.

As a father of two with rising expenses in a pricey town, that didn't work for me, and I began to realize after six years without a raise; I was doing all the work anyway - and being resented for it - so I might as well start my own company and do it right.

Clutch Couriers was founded on principles that I brought to town as an independent bike courier starting out in New York City.

To provide excellent and affordable service to a wide spectrum of the community; reaching out to those who might not intuitively choose bike messengers.

To provide a decent living for the Crew; with incentives and opportunity to move up in income and responsibility as long as they are willing and available to work hard and improve.

To change by way of example the connotation in wider circles that bicycle couriers are unprofessional.

To have fun and live doing what we love.

Along the way, from rocky beginnings, to unimaginable success, the proof has come out in the pudding. The vision and standards that I have held have produced good jobs and happy customers year after year. Throughout the worst recession in generations while local companies were laying people off and going under, we reinvested in our core personnel and grew their expertise along with their quality of life. This year we are again experiencing growth and they are reaping the benefits as we record our best numbers ever and our market share expands.

Many local, state, and national establishments now rely upon our pro messengers daily efforts to deliver everything from event posters to subpoenas - and even bone marrow and blood plasma! - across Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

Clutch Couriers is a household name brand in Santa Cruz, and that's because our bike messengers are everywhere! Doing what they love and doing it efficiently. They are proud to wear the gear that identifies them as Crew and that says a lot. After seven years I'm proud to stand back a little and let them handle the business, because finally at this point I can feel less stress knowing that the day to day is in such capable hands.

Believe me getting a successful business up and running to the point where you know it's going to stick around is no small task.. and I have the ulcers to prove it.

I know now that my heart was in the right place seven years ago when I started my own company. Whatever damage was done to my peers - I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for it now. However, I had to break some eggs to make an omelette, and I'm glad I did it. In the long run Clutch Couriers has become and will continue to be a tremendous boon to the business, entertainment, and legal communities of Santa Cruz County. Most importantly it has provided a new model of courier company that puts the welfare of it's Crew first while still turning a profit.

My sincere thanks to all our supporters, customers, messengers, and extended family throughout the years, without whom this incredible journey wouldn't be possible.

To see my vision and hard work become a sustainable and valuable courier company that will continue to flourish into the foreseeable future is a feeling I will always cherish.. And I have so enjoyed the challenge of making it happen!


Clutch Couriers is fully licensed, insured, and bonded, and provides legal filing, process service, mobile notary, printing and promotional distribution, as well as same day, rush, and custom delivery services on both a call-in and contract basis for Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

For more info visit: www.clutchcouriers.com
Or call: 831-466-0560

Monday, October 28, 2013

'Tips for Longevity' as we finish up our 7th year in business

This is taken from the comments section from an old post but as we finish up our 7th year in business, I thought 'Tips for Longevity" to be pertinent...

"Well Horace, most of this may sound cliche, but maybe you can sift some gems outta my bs.. 1. I don't know why you would want to but, if it's not for you, definitely get out. There's no sense in beating yourself up on something that isn't fun. 2. Find new and interesting things to do in the market that will increase your rate of return and put variety into your day: I'm a mobile notary-pays well and definitely an interesting part of the job. We are process servers, we deliver medical specimens, we slap up posters, we are not above delivering cookies. 3. Less weight, more money. If I delivered bagels and newspapers all day I would want to kill myself. 4. Annihilate the competition in a playful way. Invite them to your races and your kickball and badminton tourneys. Show them with your actions that we have a rich and long-held tradition of comraderie. In business set a standard for yourself and your crew that is hard to beat. Teach them with your bidding process that a rising tide raises all boats. 5. Ply your trade. Sell, sell, sell! Noone will will give a rats ass about you if you don't get out there and offer them something of value. Deliver items of consequence and be professional about it. 6. Use a decent bike with gears and brakes. I learned in my rookie year that friends don't let friends ride junk. 7. Be a conservationist. Your life force keeps you rolling. if you are going to be at a red light for awhile.. swallow your pride and put your foot down and rest. Track-stands are a waste of energy and only look cool to other hipsters. 8. Get over yourself. Yeah you are gonna get cut off nine times a day and if you get butt-hurt about the lack of respect motorist show you all day, you wont last long. Be Aikido about it and use your superior maneuverability and mental health to get outta the way. Honestly most of these drivers don't even see you, so get the F outta their blind spot, and signal and yell or whatever it takes to be noticed and accounted for. 9. Don't pick a physical fight with a car, they will wallop you. Remember the first and best way to resolve a conflict is to ride away. 10. Try and follow the rules of the road. You will feel like a big old dork at first, but once you get in the habit, you will realize that it's about respect and survival. 11. Eat and drink water all day. and sleep all night. Stretch in between 12. Ride on your days off!! You gotta keep up the pace and honestly it's way more tiring watching TV or diddling online. 13. Press your boundaries. Under-promise and over-deliver, but just slightly. We have a beautiful run out to Watsonville through the orchards of Corralitos that makes for a 50 mile day, 20 miles between picks. No-one believes that we do it but it's my favorite ride and we have opened up the whole county to bike messengers that way. 14. Always plow the coins you earn back into the game so you can get better gear, level up, and kill more monkeys!! 15. Make friends on the road. So many cyclists are way too stuck-up and we need each other out there. 16. Last but not least; try not to eat too much shit, drink too much booze, or become a drug addict. that makes it really hard...

That's just some of my tips to longevity. I learned a lot of this from experience but a lot I learned from other messengers in my first few years. I'm not perfect or a genius but I try and not be stingy with my skill-set. My inspiration lately is my crew and helping them and watching them come up in the game is my awesome reward. Oh yeah.. this one my mentor Eli told me my rookie year in NYC. Every once in awhile pull over and look up. Hardly anybody gets to do that in their working day, and that's really why we do the job! Oh yeah look down too.. you can find some amazing ground-squirrels (scores)."

Messenger Profile #11 Kevin (Squid) Bolger NYC

In honor of international messenger appreciation day (10-9) we are expanding our messenger profiles to include pro bike messengers from around the country and the world. As far as I'm concerned the best thing about the industry is the people in it and Kevin 'Squid' Bolger is one of my favorites. When we were riding the mean streets of NYC together in the 90's, Squid was the one putting on all the epic alleycat races like 'Apocolips NYC' and 'The Warriors' based on the classic 70's movie. Today he owns CycleHawk Messengers - NYC's premier messenger company, and lives with his wife and kids in Brooklyn. To me he exemplifies what a true messenger should be... Always ready to give ups to his fellow couriers and contribute to the community. Thanks Squid for all that you do! Peep his bio below:

'My name is Kevin Bolger (aka Squid), I am a Bike Messenger in New York City since 1992. I love my job and am pumped to say it has taken me around the world and then some!

Lucky to meet the most incredible, interesting, and real people doing this work, including Amy (my awesome wife!). I feel blessed to make a career out of it, and raising two crazy kids from working on a bike makes me feel great.
Have seen a lot of change over the years and technology has slimmed the work load considerably. Anyone who is a real go getter/adapter is still around and we are currently seeing a renewed interest in the industry from the tech sector.
Founded the New York Bike Messenger Foundation in 2004 which is a 501c3 Nonprofit that benefits workers hurt on the job and families of messengers who have died while working. Check us out at nybmf.org
I Believe we are here to help each other and it's up to us to make it through together. If I can help someone's day with a good deed, smile, or encouraging word that gives me great satisfaction. In my experience messengers are generous, hard working, life loving people. I'm Proud to be a part of this community and happy to see my friends/associates doing well!

If you ever need a package delivered in NYC hit me up at cyclehawk.com