The minor adventures of a motorcycle courier

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

  1. zoomungus

    zoomungus n00b

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    I worked the london circuits back in the 80's, most days it was like riding a space ship. I remember hitting a big patch of diesel on chiswick roundabout, both wheels slid about a foot and a half sideways, but I did not fall off, I was like whoa lol and just carried on. There were times I did fall off. Like on my LC undertaking a car on the roundabout near frian barnet nut house, I opened up too soon at full lean and the back end flipped out. That was expensive.

    Or racing an SPG van full of cops from the lights in hendon west london on the LC lol I did win but I knew I was going to get nicked so I pulled over and let them catch up. When the cop questioned me and asked what the fuck I was doing I replied "I thought you wanted to race" his reply was "you c*nt, now fuck off" no ticket and no fine that day :)

    Or like the pedestrian stepping off a traffic island in the Aldwych, I honked at her at 25 feet and whichever way I moved she moved into my path, it ended in a BOOF but neither she nor I got hurt but the funny part was everyone rushed to pick me up and make sure I was alright, they just ignored her lol.

    Or the time I pulled up, forgetting to put down the side stand at the BBC Wood Lane, I had a red face after that one.

    Then there was the knocking shop cash wait and return, I was greeted by a girl in a very short nurses uniform and the other girls were er in other attire lol stockings, suspenders etc. So nursey hands me (if only lol) a prescription to be filled and off I trot to the chemist to get it filled. I get back to the nurse with the package and she is standing there with a riding crop slapping it against her hand, I had a feeling she had another form of payment in mind other than cash and nursey looked annoyed when I asked for the tenner owed. Its all about the money lol........

    Or the time I got talking to a fellow MZ rider in Hampstead Heath, I had just used a phone box to call in and he pulls up, he was wearing a leather jacket but only shorts below, I pointed out the error and he explained he was going cottaging, lol the penny dropped, I shut up and left.

    I also managed to not run over Phil Collins as he crossed Stratton St W1 when I was heading for the Berkeley St Thomas Cook office.

    Those were fun times........ :)

    Glory days, hell yes. The best part was the social side, lol the wild bunch were tame to the blokes I worked around, a good crowd. The worst part was picking up a package from another rider after an accident and there were plenty of accidents.

    I quit in 88 after a near miss, one of those near misses that as its happening your bones ache because you know its going to hurt. As crossed the lights at Pentonville rd a car turned right across my path. but I swerved around it. I knew I was done right there and then, I quit that night.
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  2. Reynaldo

    Reynaldo Adventurer

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    Nov 26, 2015
    Oddometer:
    12
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    Shropshire, UK
    Good to hear a kindred spirit. Didn't work at London Zoo at any time did you?

    Speaking of celebs, delivered/picked up from or bumped into; Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Seb Coe, Zoe Ball, Paul Mcartney, Dave Stewart, Honor Blackman (lovely lady, invited me in), Jane Asher. And some I've forgotten.

    Some amazing signatures too. Two stand out; a Japanese chap in the tower block in Shoe Lane - a miniature work of art. And a Nigerian fellow in Northumberland Ave., looked like an African landscape! Couldn't read either of them (like most).

    Remembering back now it almost seems like some kind of twilight zone - did it really exist?
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  3. zoomungus

    zoomungus n00b

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    Aug 24, 2016
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    Never worked at the zoo but I remember the royal parks banned advertising on vehicles that went through, so you had to hide it or risk getting caught and getting a bollocking lol.

    Kindred spirit, yes! But then despatch riders are a different breed, who tend to stick together. Despatching was everybody's day job, there were budding musicians, photographers, artists, writers
    There was money to fund whatever life you wanted to live. Bohemians & nomads, man we were out there on the fringe of society.

    We cashed our company cheques on a Friday night at a spit and sawdust pub in Bethnel green Rd, rough as rats lol a rough house. The locals complained to the pub land lord about us lol we scared them, us scary bikers.......

    I'm still a nomad, still travelling, I may be back in the uk, i may saddle up again.....


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  4. Osprey70

    Osprey70 Adventurer

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    Jun 29, 2013
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    Bump for a great thread. Thanks to all for these stories
  5. Reynaldo

    Reynaldo Adventurer

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    Nov 26, 2015
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    Shropshire, UK
    A little splash from the nineties:

    Part 1 of 3. I was still on the road then but not featured.
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  6. aspieman

    aspieman M58

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    Nov 16, 2008
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    22
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    UK
  7. guttrd

    guttrd Been here awhile

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    Seattle
    How does one get a job doing this? Is it a thing in the US?
  8. Reynaldo

    Reynaldo Adventurer

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    Nov 26, 2015
    Oddometer:
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    [​IMG]Some of the long suffering beasties:

    [​IMG]

    Ran three CX's, followed by the Beemer. After a clean up - flogged with 211,000 on the clock for the same price I paid for it.

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG] [​IMG]


    And the bike I loved best - seven years on the circuits, and sold with 308,000 miles on the clock.
    Guzzi V50III, with various mods and road kill seat cover.
    Ancient Swagman tank panniers, Oxford panniers, another ancient Craven Golden Arrow pannier as top box, and monster handlebar muffs with heated grips inside. Toasty warm!

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

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  9. aspieman

    aspieman M58

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    22
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    UK
    Pukka CX! I remember the gratitude I had for the (inadvertent) great design of the CX.The way you could dry/warm your gloves and hands on the cylinder heads,the nice flat top tank for putting your coffee and sarnie on and the comfortable seat.The heads used to stop your knees freezing in those terrible winters of the 80s like 85/86.
  10. jlevers

    jlevers Been here awhile

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    Aug 3, 2016
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    Western Massachusetts
    I'm interested in this too...seems like an awesome job to do for a while.

    I have a '79 CX500, and I can confirm that I balance things on the tank all the time...
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  11. Irlander

    Irlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
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    51
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    Scotland
    I went from the CX500 to the XL500 for a while - great fun getting it started in cold weather. I think this pic is from 1986/87 XL500-Snow-1987.jpg
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  12. Reynaldo

    Reynaldo Adventurer

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    Nov 26, 2015
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    Shropshire, UK
    In frosty weather I'd put a cardboard box under the CX with a hurricane lamp in lit, and covered the lot with a heavy blanket. That would ensure a start left outside in several degrees of frost. If I didn't do that - a non-starter for certain.

    Where can you despatch? Any big town, any where in the world. Just check out the courier companies. But don't expect to make any money! Those days are gone.
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  13. Reynaldo

    Reynaldo Adventurer

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    Nov 26, 2015
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    Shropshire, UK
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG] [​IMG]

    I think he was wishing it was IN the skip . . .

    The late Martin Chater, MD of Pony Express in speechless awe of Messenger 9's (Bill Rankin) Arrow, outside the new unit in Northfields Industrial estate, Beresford Ave., Stonebridge Park.

    It did have a good front tyre . . . on the big side, but hey . . .
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  14. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Nice skip. I thought that thing next to it was an old Ducati for a minute. (Visor now wiped).

    Another then-and-now courier reminiscence on Wemoto:

    And here's a pic of some KG topboxes, a festering Rukka and a lurking CX. Give me a lithe RS any day...

    Found the image on Phil Crean's Despatching '86 gallery mentioned earlier, after someone just asked me:
    What do you think about using London couriers topbox (also known as portable loos) for overlanding 80/20 tarmac/dirt?
    They are made by http://keithgold.co.uk

    Amazed KG is still around.
    And for overlanding? Well, a lot of secure volume for your money, while it lasts.

    sfb.jpg
  15. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

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    I have a top box on my ATV with those same style latches. They won't stay latched either!
    JJ
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  16. POD1963

    POD1963 Adventurer

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    Ogden, Utah
    Really enjoyed this! So unique!!
  17. grcamna1

    grcamna1 Adventurer

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    Great thread.Living life 'On the Go' and all of you just keep going 'through thick and thin' :-) Subscribed. :clap
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  18. aspieman

    aspieman M58

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    Nov 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    22
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    UK
    We used to just bungee the top box lid down,doing dozens of deliveries and collections every day it worked out quicker.You used to lift the lid with one hand and pop the letter or package in with the other without taking the bungee off.If it didn`t fit it would go in your panniers (if you had them), bag or be bungeed onto the pillion seat.
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  19. Reynaldo

    Reynaldo Adventurer

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    Shropshire, UK
    Funny those catches get a mention. I had them on a Craven pannier that I used as a top box on the pillion. In all the years I was despatching I never locked it - not once - and nothing got nicked (stolen). But the one day I did lock it when parked in Westminster for a couple of hours - it got broken into! They took nothing, just a bunch of provincial town maps and odds and sods in there, nothing of value, but they broke the catch (easy enough).

    All hail the bungy!
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  20. insomnia

    insomnia Been here awhile

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    best thread ever thanks a lot to everyone who posted hope you are all doing well . I read every word and enjoyed every one I laughed a lot too . when I was a youngster I really fancied being a courier more than any other thing to do with bikes but it never came to pass . I had an older friend who done it I looked up to him and wanted to be like him when I grew up . I still haven't I just got older but I have slowed down a lot though and only go real easy in urban areas now giving myself plenty of room . it has paid off too I have avoided crashes because of it . I have had people take me down in the past it was partly my own fault I should have been riding slower and more defensively . I have spent a while looking at you tube videos and I though this was worth sharing .