03 March 2018

My Coffee Runs Are Nothing Compared To His!

When I was a NYC bicycle messenger, relatives, friends and others urged me to get another job.  "It's so dangerous!" they exhorted.

I hear that same admonition, sometimes, when people learn that I continue to ride in the Big Apple.  A few people I know have told me they used to pedal the pavement of the big city or spin their wheels somewhere else, but they stopped because it was "too dangerous".

Now, I know I have to be vigilant when riding in traffic.  And there are other hazards.  To me, though, riding in my hometown is no more--and probably much less--perilous than pedaling in other places.  

I know.  I have ridden in some of those other places.  None of them, however, is nearly as hazardous as what these folks traverse every day:

The border area between Sudan and South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places on Earth.  The climate, terrain and political situation make for a truly hazardous coffee run, to say the least.

I do not make that last statement lightly.  The bicycle traders in the video make two-day trips to get coffee, juice and other items that might not be available in their home villages.  

And I used to feel proud of going a few miles along sometimes-potholed roads for bagels!


  1. I used to take some pride in the stuff I'd carried by bike (a Christmas tree, once; many packages, boxes of books, growlers of beer, etc.), and in the array of fancy racks, straps, and bags I had acquired for the purpose. Then I visited Uganda and was throughly humbled. Everything imaginable (including multiple passengers) was carried on bikes, with no particular drama, just as humdrum routine--and these were universally rod-braked roadsters, usually with no particular racks or other affordances for cargo. (I saw a small motorbike carrying a full-sized couch, athwartships, and seemingly for a considerable distance, as this was out on the highway.)

  2. Eli--I remember how proud I was when I carried an armchair while riding my bicycle. Or the time I delivered a print about two feet by three feet to Judy Collins (yes, her!) when I was a messenger. But I am a wuss compared to those guys in Sudan or Uganda.

    I congratulate you, though, on what you've carried. It's more than most Americans will ever take on a bike--if indeed they ride at all!