The minor adventures of a motorcycle courier

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by JoeyBones, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. eepeqez

    eepeqez Long timer

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  2. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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  3. aspieman

    aspieman M58

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    I started out on an 1982 MZ TS125,a tough East German two stroke.I learned my way round London and the home counties on it and earned better money than others my age (17) in other occupations.I was a total psycho I admit and used to go through gaps which were way too narrow.This often resulted in me clipping wing mirrors of cars and gently scraping bodywork.I would escape through the dense traffic queues and arrive back at base to hear that motorists had rang up complaining about me.I found out later they did not tell me about most of these calls in order to keep my speed up.
    I was sent to an upmarket cake shop once to collect a package for the Ritz or Dorchester Hotel.I arrived and collected it,loaded it into my topbox.I rode across town in my usual crazy style and delivered it.On my next delivery I got a call on the radio from my controller to say that the customer had complained that the cake was totally destroyed and did I have an explanation.I said I just picked up a parcel and did not know what was in it,it should have gone on a van if it was a cake.
    I was doing a collection from a travel agents in Goswell road and as I turned to leave my MZ key-a primitive T shaped thing caught the dress of the lady giving my the parcel-it pulled her dress up exposing her knickers-she exclaimed "I`ll thank you to leave my dress alone!"I did not know what to say so just slunk away with all the office people staring at me.
    I was riding along New Bond Street one day when a Bentley or something like that pulled out from the kerb into my path causing me to swerve-I pulled alongside and gave the driver a mouthful,it was Brigitte Bardot.
    I delivered to many (then) famous people including Patsy Kensit-an ET like arm ernerged from the gap in the door,Richard Branson-invited me in for tea,Lords MacMillan and McAlpine-friendly,John Alderton-friendly,Ron Pickering-friendly,Fergie`s Texan toe sucker-friendly,Janet Street Porter-rude,others too but can`t remember right now.I delivered a fancy table to Annie Lennox in my van days,she asked my to assemble it for her-I declined as I would only do that sort of unpaid freebie for the disabled or elderly.
    I was rammed deliberately by cars twice-I let it go the first time because I was a fairly inoffensive 17 y.o. but the second time in 1987 I rearranged the bodywork on the homeboy`s SAAB.If someone accidently bumped my that was fair enough-I would just exchange details or forget about it if there was no damage to my bike.I knocked down a person in `87 whilst riding a company CB450 outside the Daily Mirror HQ in High Holborn,the guy just stepped off the kerb in the middle of the road as I passed him.Luckily Ole Bob Maxwell`s chauffeur came over and gave me his card and said he would be a witness for me and that there was nothing I could have done to avoid the collision.
    A fellow despatch rider in my company was riding down High Holborn when a car pulled out on him,he remonstrated with the driver who proceeded to pull out a sawn off shotgun from under his seat and point it at him.Another guy-a van driver got a revolver pulled on him when he tooted a pedestrian who walked out in front of him.
    There was the guy who was delivering an urn of ashes,he skidded in the rain and the deceased was scattered all over the junction of Regent street and Hanover Street.
    Your riding skills and reflexes became honed to level no motorcyclist (inc racers) could ever achieve.I was riding my CX500 (fully faired/panniered) in the winter of `86 or `87,temperatures were minus 5 celcius,of course on a bike with wind chill thats more like minus 30, doing a delivery to Egham in Surrey.I was riding along at about 50mph when it came time to turn off onto another road I applied the brakes gently-the bike immediately began to slide-black ice!,I kept applying the brakes on and off and the bike began to spin on the ice,it eventually stopped after doing 2 360degree rotations and I put my boot down on the road,marvelling at my own ability to control a third of a tonne of cx and rider with no traction.
    The CX500 was my favourite despatch bike.It could have been built for the job.Shaft drive meant no messing with chains-you don`t need that when you are doing a thousand miles a week in all weathers.The cylinder heads poked out the sides and you could leave your gloves on then to defrost or dry out during quiet periods.The petrol tank was nice and flat so you could put yr coffee and sandwich on it.The lights were very good for those winter evenings when you were down some country lane in Somerset.The water cooling kept the motor cool even on the hottest summer days in the west end traffic.It did a lot of damage to cars it hit-sometimes the car came off second best!I was once overtaking a VW beetle when it decided to do a U turn,my cx took the front wing off the VW the CX was barely swayed by the impact,there was a slight scuff on the engine bar.
    Regular servicing by the rider was easy.At the end of my CX riding days I could get the engine out in 20 mins-yes it went though a few camchains and tensioners.My old CX did about 300,000 miles before it was scrapped in 1990. In the eighties in England it was virtually impossible to get your bike serviced or repaired at short notice.Queueing was so deeply ingrained that a professional rider would have to wait for two weeks while the bikes of commuters or leisure riders were fixed or serviced ahead of the bike that earned him a living.Most of us had 3 or 4 bikes to get round this.
    More later!
  4. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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  5. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Cliff - I've read some of your Alaska report and I recognize that you may not understand a lot of what people are talking about in this thread. So rather than post a lot of questions and answers etc in this thread, I will send you a PM (Private Message) and ask that we please answer your questions that way. You can just reply to my message, if you don't mind.

    Thanks
  6. Bora

    Bora Adventurer

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    :clap

    Thanks Joey for starting this! What great stories and what storytellers!!



    Keep them coming please!

    Waiting in earnest for some more stories....


    BTW, whatever happened to the stories from Paris?:evil
  7. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    2012 aug 3 1816 studio city

    today i had finished splitting lanes and opened my throttle somewhat (as i usually do) and out of my peripheral vision, i saw a white suv-type car nearly hit me. it was the kind of close call that if i hadn't moved right when it turned green, he would have hit me. i thought, "wow, they must have been really preoccupied not to see me because i was nearly pulled out in front of them."

    then i saw in my rear view that it was a white scion and it was changing lanes as i did AND CHASING ME!!!

    i felt scared and opened the throttle all the way.

    yes, the hottie in the ferrari yesterday killed me.

    but GTL vs scion?

    haha. i went through a major intersection so fast that the bumps made me fly. i knew there could be a police there, but i would just explain the truth - a reckless driver was trying to kill me!

    white scion got stuck at a red light and everything went back to normal.
  8. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    I do love hearing these stories... give us more if you've got 'em!
  9. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Yeah! Good question!
  10. tirving

    tirving Terry Irving

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    Finally@!
    My new book - about working for Metro Motorcycles in DC many long years ago - will publish on Amazon in January. Please spread the news around the biker community - I've tried to make it as accurate as I can remember but anyone who catches an error will get a prize (a second copy of the book for free - it's like two weeks in New Jersey)

    Take a look. Facebook.com/terryirvingcourier or www.terryirving.blogspot.com

    Thanks Terry:freaky
  11. Renegade_Azzy

    Renegade_Azzy Kamen Rider

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    Cool, best of luck with it. Post us a link when it is live on the site.
  12. MoToad

    MoToad Been here awhile

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    Enjoyed perusing this thread this morning, Joey. The time period and SP400 caught my eye. Altho I was never a motorcycle courier, I did have city experience with the Suzuki. I was living in Vancouver Canada in the 80s and, working there, was constantly being annoyed by gridlock and traffic jams in general. I fought it well with a street bike but it wasn't until my friend sold me his SP500 that I found every curb, sidewalk, back alley and railtrack and the advantages of using them. My commutes suddenly got a lot easier. This was what I now call my first Dual Sport and, altho I never really got far into the bush with it, there was a trip I'd do on occasion out by the airport. A breakwater spit at the Fraser River mouth had a perfect sandbar ride at low tide beside it. It was a good mile long and made for some great high speed riding. Unfortunately, I took it to the limit just one too many times and, altho it did not involve any high speed crash, it did trigger the end of the bike for me.
    I got out to the end of the spit and there was that one little exposed bar of sand left with just a bit of water in between. As I dove on in the bike immediately sank to the skidplate and would not move another inch. It was about two minutes after this that I realized the tide was rapidly advancing and I was standing there with the proverbial dick in hand. With nothing I could do to pull the bike out I started walking back, swearing, kicking my helmet down the beach and looking back at a rapidly vanishing motorcycle. No cell phones back then and no one for miles.
    But then, there it was. That spot on the horizon. Coming towards me. Turned out to be a three wheeler ATV with two guys on it. I begged them to help me rescue the bike and the three of us waded in and were able to dislodge it and roll it to shore. There was no way it was starting and with the tide making the beach disappear, plus not having a tow rope it was time to improvise. My well worn Levis jean jacket became the rope. Somehow tied between the machines we got maybe three hundred yards before it tore apart. Knotting the thing back together I managed to get the bike to the closest building, the sewage pumping station (no, it didn't go into the ocean) and a phone. Telling those boys I definitely owed them a beer I got ahold of my roommate who fetched me tools and replacement oil. Plug out, we got the bike upside down and then upright and with a lot of kicking, got most of the ocean out of there. Bike fired up again and I ran oil thru it til it looked a lot less creamy.
    The ride home was approximately five miles in the dark and I watched the head begin to dim in the last mile. All downhill as I coasted into my driveway.
    The long story short, pulling the side covers the next day revealed sand in the stator and God know where else. Stator replacement and subsequent multiple oil and filter changes has the little SP running normally again but common sense had me unloading it shortly without revealing its recent past. All I can say is I did give it to the guy for a really good price. :D
    And there my SP story.
    Toad.
  13. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    I'm glad you enjoyed the Courier stories and thanks for sharing thoughts on your SP500.

    A couple of months ago I was on on the Outer Banks with my DR650 and, while not nearly as bad as what you experienced, I did get that "sinking down to the skidplate feeling...". Took three of us to push 'er to firmer ground.

    [​IMG]
  14. wowbagger

    wowbagger n00b

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    I have been reading through this thread at odd times yesterday and today and think it is great, and as a result join and put my own contribution in.

    I started as a courier way back in '86 on an XS1100 Martini and from that went the usual CX500 and GT550 route, many CX500's as they blew up or I crashed them.
    Worked for several companies Addison Lee, Pony express, Mayday couriers(the best one in London I worked for) and others.

    Like I am sure many others, I got other jobs in offices etc when I needed a mortgage, credit etc.
    So far I did '86 to '95 with a years break on bikes then on bikes and on four wheels in between so called sensible jobs since then, when I get bored and want some excitement or need a job, for total of about 13 years being a courier..

    An earlier post on this thread made me think of how we would try and stay warm in the winters. I remember sitting in a cloud of diesel exhaust fumes by a coach exhaust trying to get warm.

    Great thread...
  15. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Reading that just sparked the same memory for me! Spending a minute at a light next to a bus engine, breathing in diesel fumes and getting slightly warm from the inside out, if only for a moment...
  16. wowbagger

    wowbagger n00b

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    Just to keep the thread going.

    Had a classic today, that most if not all couriers can relate to.

    Got a call this morning saying a customer wants a collection to go to Westminster ( a part of London for those not familiar with London and the UK).
    Me: whats the actual post code
    Controller: they will give that to you on collection.

    So I went to collect, package not ready - usual from this type of business.

    package is presented to me and as always I look for an address and or contact name on the parcel.

    Nothing.
    Me: So where is it going.
    Company: I thought you knew ( or words to that effect).
    Me: NO.
    Guy comes out and says it is going to the LSE (London School of Economics) London.
    Me:The LSE have a number of buildings in London I politely say.

    Response: We will give you a number of who you are delivering to and call him when you get up to Westminster area.

    Me: NO. Thinking as well, is it in or out of congestion zone where I need to park - if I pay congestion charge and there was no need to I do not get it back,( I am using 4 wheels at the moment)

    I say call him and find out where he is and I will deliver there.

    They did, he only knew a street name but I got a post code for that and then did the run.

    I really want to ask if they would send a letter with just LSE London on it without post code (zip code) and expect it to be delivered.

    Some things never change!! Or am I being to harsh.
  17. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

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    Been a courier/postman for just over a year.. or was it two?
    And no, you're not being harsh.
    People are stupid.

    That's one of the things that'll never change.
  18. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Comments inline... :D

    Caesars_ghost likes this.
  19. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

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    Oh man, seriously, at 3:45AM? :D

    I'm still related to that company through my new company so I can't
    bash them.. even if most of the absurd situations actually came from
    them.

    There'll be a time and a place.

    I was mostly a mail man, the walking kind, but I used my bicycle and
    scooter daily. More issues with dogs then anything else.

    The movies are.. TRUE! :eek1
  20. rand0mlychrisUK

    rand0mlychrisUK Adventurer

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    This thread must not die!!!

    This thread is amazing, I read it from cover to cover in the last two days, I am loving the stories!
    It's been 5 months since the last post, let's ressurect it (again:clap).

    I have always wanted to do something on a motorcycle, but there are literally NO MC couriers over here in Estonia (perhaps due to the 5 month -25C 3-foot-of-snow winter!).

    Even if I moved somewhere where it is a possibility, common sense says "don't do it, you won't get any money for it" and other various things like that...so do the people, too.

    Keep up the stories, I remember a certain Paris thread and also some 12-inch-police-wheels.

    Come on people! You are the reason ADVRider is this awesome!:clap:clap:clap