The Chainlink

My son (the one in Pilsen) is looking to sign on with a bike messenger firm.  Do I advise against this, or what?  He's running an older Giant hybrid model, and this is his first time.

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Seems like a tough job that doesn't pay well, but in this economy it's good that he wants to pursue something.

Crap job, crap pay.

... and you'll burn deliveries on a hybrid. Super fast road/fixie only way to go. 

What does "burn deliveries" mean? That the deliveries will arrive late? I occasionally see some messengers on hybrids or hybridized MTBs. Do they just earn less?

Joe Schmoe said:

... and you'll burn deliveries on a hybrid. Super fast road/fixie only way to go. 

I've been seeing the same older guy using a mountian bike making deliveries to my building on Jackson for a few years, now.

This was a slightly different gig from messengering, but I worked as a Potbelly deliverer in the Loop for about 9 months in 2010-2011. My experience was that speed was based on knowledge of shortcuts and traffic idiosyncrasies, along with a healthy reserve of testicular fortitude (ovarian fortitude, in my case). I rode a heavy-ass beater Schwinn Cross-Fit from the early '90s with hybrid tires, and I got along just fine, even in the winter, for 1,000+ miles. I started out being in decent biking shape (although operating with a torn ACL, I found out much later) but ended up in very good shape and having muscles in places where muscles previously feared to tread.  

There were a lot of enjoyable parts to the job - developing a detailed mental map of downtown, being able to traipse into fancy office buildings in my bike gear and strike up conversations about it, getting good tips, and fostering relationships with door personnel and frequent customers - but the crappy part was having to actually work behind the Potbelly counter when I wasn't delivering. At a messenger firm, obviously your son won't have to deal with that. I'd tell him to go for it.

(And P.S.: Similar to Clint H, I took this job as a change of pace and to free myself from the ennui of a decently paying office job. I eventually went back to the office job; as much as I loved being outdoors and riding around the city, the pay at Potbelly was crap, and they wouldn't let me work full time without training as a manager, which would have taken me off the bike altogether.)

He could just start his own firm to deliver food for local places around his house. All he would needs is a [ BIKE- BAG -GOOD PHONE SERVICE ] and devotion to the work. I have build lots of bag for guys doing the same. There are all kinds of untapped areas that need fast food delivery. 

It's a good work out, I've been a commuter for years and had several days downtown that I had to get from West loop to Mi. ave to South loop... for my jobs.

Get a better bike if he likes it though an old Mountain bike/hybrid is too slow and laborious.

Single speed with brakes is the only way to fly. IMO.

Thank you, all for your input.  I will show my kid the string.  Of course, his bike just having been stolen yesterday outside of the Columbia College school building, he's now coming home to borrow my Specialized Hard Rock - hard tail, no shock-fork, to do the work.  Don't you think the school would have a camera on their bike rack - with all the thefts and biking being a main way of life for the students?   I am as pissed off with them as with the f-ing thief.

Maybe if MY bike gets stolen next, I can convince the wife to let me buy the 7-speed bagger/chopper bike from Koslow I've had my eye on...

John, can you have him file a report here ASAP?

Unfortunately few bike racks are in view of security cameras.  And those that are rarely produce any images good enough for more than a general description.  What kind of U-lock did he use?

He reported the theft to the police that day.  He didn't have a u-lock, but he's taking one with him today - a first-gen Kryptonite.

My beef with his school is that for as long as they have been open, and as long as they've had biking students, and as long as there have been bike thieves capable of hacking bike chains and locks in broad daylight, the school should have better security for bikes.   It is almost as if they are complicit in the thefts, I am thinking.

Who's with me for a protest ride?!?



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