The minor adventures of a motorcycle courier

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

  1. klr650gary

    klr650gary CBD Adventurer

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    I had to pick up from a Medical supply place going to a private clinic on an Express run - easy money!

    So, on pick up, 3 small boxes with... Breast implants... 3?... Three?... Tres?

    :clap WOW, I've got visions of the 'Triple Breasted Whore from Eroticon 6' or the chick from 'Total Recall'

    DAMMIT!! Turns out they always a spare ready just-in-case during the operation. :rofl

    :shog
  2. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    :rofl
  3. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Thanks to JB for kicking off a thread on the other type of ‘adv riding’.
    Interesting to learn there were also moto messengers in the big US cities right from the start. But why not? stuff in DC needs delivering too.

    I imagine like a lot here I expected to do it for a few of months, save up some money and get a life.
    Ten years, 40 bikes and a dozen jobs later I finally stuffed my street finder into my lid and torched the whole lot.
    (1978-88).

    Here’s a recollection from a few weeks in the job. As is the form on adv, I'll string it out ;-)

    ‘Urgent – Human Tissue’ was emblazoned in red across the top of a padded vinyl case.
    ‘How long will it take to get there?’ asked the receptionist at the Colindale Blood Bank.
    ‘Er… Children’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street? About 20-25 minutes?’ I replied, quickly juggling what might be possible and what she wanted to hear.
    ‘Oh,’ she said with a frown. ‘Well, please be as quick as you can

    Crikey, this was urgent. I’d never picked up blood before.
    Was some poor child actually haemorrhaging in an operating theatre 9 miles away with their life in the balance?
    As I kicked the Bonnie over I wondered – should I? – dare I? Is it allowed?
    I decided tonight, yes it would be.
    The time was 7.22pm and the Highway Code rule book was being temporarily suspended...
  4. Draechon

    Draechon Long timer

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    I hate teasers Chris. We need more!
  5. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Oh, this is gonna be good...

    :lurk
  6. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    I flicked the headlight on high beam and roared off down the Edgware Road for Staples Corner, then hit sixty five along the short stretch of the North Circular before swinging through the traffic for the roundabout under the Brent Cross flyover. From here the broad Hendon Way was always a reliably fast runway with only one set of lights on the way to Finchley Road. I braked hard towards them, squeezed between the queued cars and pushed out past the white line. Cross traffic swept from left and right but once a space opened up, and contrary to all my license-preserving instincts, I launched the Bonnie across the junction and belted on towards Finchley Road.

    This next stage was going to be dicey: slow traffic, buses and at least half-a-dozen lights to negotiate before Swiss Cottage. Where necessary I skipped round the outside of traffic bollards antagonising a few oncomers and on the reds rode round out front, watched for a chance, then nailed it. Amazingly no one seemed to be hooting at me and no sirens wailed.

    At Swiss Cottage I slipped through another red into the flow coming from the left and managed to cross Adelaide Road on green. Swift, smooth progress with minimal stops, right turns and brain-out risks; that seemed the key to racing efficiently across town. The all-consuming concentration had me too focussed to acknowledge the colossal rush I was also enjoying.

    Like a rally racer I was visualising the next ‘bend’ – or in my case, junction or traffic light – to calculate how best to clear it. Opposite Regents Park I slipped another red onto Prince Albert Road. Providing the road is clear, some countries allow this maneuverer at traffic light junctions on red, but not the UK. Once through though I kept it down to 50-55; we all knew that along residential ‘30mph’ streets, 40 was the ‘working’ limit. Stray beyond that for too long and things could happen too fast plus fines would probably involve a ban.

    At Camden Parkway the evening traffic made it too difficult to shoot across the junction, but six weeks in the game and I’d already learned the trick of watching the other lights change to red in anticipation to mine going green. The middle lamp flicked to amber and as soon as the junction cleared I was off again with a screech from the K181, a good four seconds before my light turned green.
  7. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Where's that "Like" button? This place needs a "Like" button.
  8. tractorking

    tractorking Retired Moto Courier

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    The thread continues......:-)
  9. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    ... Running alongside the railway tracks, Park Village East, NW1 was for years a nifty back road linking Regents Park with Euston, even once they speed bumped it.
    Braking at the end, I crunched the side stand into Granby for Hampstead Road. I knew the lights here took ages to change but no time for that, so I dashed across to the bollard on the central strip... and then sped off once it was clear left.

    ETA now less than five minutes.
    Scrape left again and down the side of Euston station – a taxi starts pulling out.
    'Oh no you don't pal' – not today. I hit the horn, swung out right round a bollard then slipped the red onto the busy Euston Road and heaved over to the right lane quick to line up for the right into Woburn Place. No chance of pushing across three moving lanes here, but once barrelling down Woburn I ran all the reds as before.

    Just after Russell Square I was looking for a pedestrian passage I’d spotted one time. It led directly into Queen Square and Ormond St behind, so avoiding the two-minute schlep via Theobald’s Road. There it was, Cosmo Place. I rode up onto the kerb – some tourists stopped in their tracks, startled by the Triumph’s full beam and my determined glare. Were such antics permitted in London? I passed them, weaved briskly among Cosmo’s early evening revellers and dropped into Queen Square without so much as a irate kick.
    By now buzzing like a midsummer hive and with the hot engine baking my shins, I sprinted down to the hospital, grabbed the blood, leapt up the steps in a stride and landed at reception.
    ‘Hi. Got some blood here from Colindale.’

    I checked my watch. Just coming up to 7.37.



    [​IMG]
    Map for those who don't know London.

    A couple of years after my dash a voluntary ‘Bloodrunners’ service was established in the UK. The volunteers’ machines get hi-viz stickers like police bikes except with ‘BLOOD’ stencilled across the windscreen. And although some are also fitted with blue lights and sirens, they’re only to make them more noticeable in traffic.
    Bloodrunners can’t run red lights, ignore speed limits or pass round the wrong sides of traffic islands as I did that evening (although in places the latter two rules were flaunted most days).

    What would have happened had I got stopped by the cops? I like to think they’d have escorted me to my destination on a blue light before throwing the book at me.
    As it was, even though we all clocked up our share of ‘ambulance chasing*’, it was amazing that no one challenged or reported me (though of course I was gone in a flash).

    That memorable blast across town was an example of the immunity we felt from the Law and the laws of physics, engendered on that occasion by a well meaning if mistaken impression of moral entitlement.
    It explains how we despatchers’ treated every job when under pressure – ‘you want urgent, I’ll give you urgent! [if I'm in the mood]’ – and why in London we were to become notorious in the years to come.

    * I’ve only just realised the ‘greedy lawyers chasing work’ meaning of this term. For me it’s always meant chasing an ambulance on call to ‘slipstream’ it like a Tour de France bike and gain a free ride through the traffic.
    PilbaraGoat and JapseyeOgri like this.
  10. Falconx84

    Falconx84 Lurker

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    Good write up, thanks for sharing
  11. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Well said. And you must have some more stories...!
  12. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

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    You can use this: "[​IMG]"
  13. stillspiraling

    stillspiraling n00b

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    Most excellent stories - should probably write these down in one place and get that junk published! I'd buy it. :super
  14. PBOB

    PBOB MOTO NUT

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    never let this thread die!

    more please---
    are there currently any USA courier businesses still out there?
    I know there are still a few in Calif. but what about the east coast?
    I would think that local businesses that need quick same day delivery to local customers would still benefit from motocycle couriers....
  15. ThrottleDave

    ThrottleDave Adventurer

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    Subscribed.....keep up the good stories! :lurk
  16. Domiken

    Domiken Been here awhile

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    Wow, amazing thread! :clap

    I am satisfied for the month!
  17. Renegade_Azzy

    Renegade_Azzy Kamen Rider

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    All the ones in Pittsburgh are bicycle. I've tried to convince a few local pizza shops of the idea of delivery bikes and scooters...

    Sent from my SPH-M950 using Tapatalk 2
  18. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    It is very rewarding to see that this thread, five years later, can still pique some interest.

    :D
  19. MikeinSA

    MikeinSA Village Idiot Supporter

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    Ha, I just saw this. I've got to go back and read the whole thread, but I too was a courier in DC, I think in '83-'85. I worked part time for some sleazy place up on the northwest side. I was just getting out of the Coast Guard and was a relatively clean-cut, 22 year-old on a Honda XL 500. It was quite a shock - everyone I worked with was constantly stoned, riding in casts, riding complete crap bikes, etc., it was hysterical. :lol3 I think I learned more street survival skills that year then at anytime before or after. I did most of the longer runs because of the big bike, but pretty quickly got accustomed to lane splitting, dodging taxi mirrors, climbing curbs and stairs ........ weird times.


    Oh, I still carry an "On Delivery" sign ....... for, you know :lol3
  20. Draechon

    Draechon Long timer

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    Looking forward to your hosting story-time for a bit Mike!