Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

21 January 2012

For Someone Who Has To Ride In The Snow

Today the temperature hovered a few degrees below freezing.  But snow fell; about four inches stuck to the sidewalks and streets.  Even after the snow stopped, the dampness in the air seeped through everything, it seemed, and made it seem even colder.

I didn't ride today because when I did my laundry and some grocery shopping, I noticed a lot of "black ice."  I don't have a pair of studded tires, and I'm not even sure that they would have helped.  Plus, Max, my surviving cat, wanted to spend some quality time with me.  (Yes, he reads all of the self-help and pop-psychology books.;-))

Plus,I didn't see anyone cycling today, and I didn't see any bikes that looked particularly forlorn, pristine or striking in any other way when parked in the snow.  I'd have liked to get a shot of one of the restaurant delivery guys who was carrying General Tso's Chicken and Hot and Sour soup in bags that dangled from the bars of a '90's mountain bike--a Trek, I think--cobbled together with parts from other bikes and stuff that was never meant for bikes.  

I couldn't help but to think of my own days as a messenger.  I didn't have any cats back then; in fact, I didn't have a regular address:  I was living in sublets.  I'll bet that delivery guy is living in a similar way.  Or, perhaps, he's living in a room with four or five other guys.  They might all be making deliveries, too, for other Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, diners and any other kind of place that sells food for people who can't or don't want to prepare it themselves. 

I once delivered pizza when I was a messenger. Two slices with sausage, pepperoni, peppers and onions to an office on the 89th floor of One  World Trade Center (the NorthTower).  Those two slices cost 3.50; the guy who ordered them (or, more precisely, his office)  paid six dollars to the company I worked for. I got about half of that as my commission, and the guy gave me a five-dollar tip.  In those days, that got me a couple of drinks or smokes.  And the man was clearly happy to get his pizza within five minutes of ordering it; the pizzeria's delivery system would have taken at least half an hour.  Plus, I think those two slices weren't enough to make the minimum for a delivery order.

The guy I saw today had to have been delivering an order of at least ten dollars.  That's the minimum at the restaurant for which he works:  Fatima's Halal Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood.  Their food is excellent; you just won't find ribs or pork there. (Here's a slogan for them:  Making Hungry Muslims Happy.)  On the other hand, they make some really good vegetarian dishes.

Anyway, he has to ride over slush and black ice, which is even more dangerous than rain, snow, sleet or hail.  I wonder whether he'll recall or relive days like this.  Or maybe he'll forget them altogether.  If he does, he probably won't be riding a bike, either.


  1. Actually, after watching "Crude Awakening: the Oil Crash" yesterday, I wonder if that isn't how most deliveries will be made within our lifetimes.

  2. Steve, I found myself thinking the same thing. I might be making deliveries on my bike, the way things are going.