I don't often get wordy, though anyone who knows me will tell you I love a good gass bag and have many a tale to share from the road. It's how I spread the disease long before the website came along.
In my 10 years of working as a bike courier I haven't seen it all, but I seen a lot, heard a lot, ridden countless miles and kilometres in searing heat, hail, sleet, ice and snow. London, Melbourne, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York and I even worked a day in Berlin.
In 2005 I worked for Allied in Melbourne. While I was there they introduced a new level of job called a 'GOLD'. If you've watched any of the Triple Rush series which is a pretty shonky attempt at capturing what it is to be bike courier, a GOLD was a Quadruple rush. It paid whatever the Triple paid, plus $20 from memory.
The fleet of push bikes shared the airwaves with the CBD based motorbikes. Around the time a new motorbike rider '24' came on board. I thought anyone could do this job. It's easy. Get told where to go, what to pick up, where to take it. Easy.
Well '24' opened my eyes. In his first week, such highlights over the radio were him running out of petrol, not having money to pay for petrol and the frustration of the dispatcher trying to call '24' as he would turn his radio off in between deliveries to save the battery. Same goes for his phone. He carried no map so didn't know how to find any addresses.
So it was the Friday of '24's first and last week he had a handful of jobs on board. '24' had run out of petrol again, and another motorbike came to his rescue to take the jobs he was 'burning'. Double whammy for the said motorbike was he had to give up 3 GOLD jobs to extinguish the burning jobs which were late, and standard rate paying.
The dispatcher had a new problem. 3 Gold jobs and no motorbike to cover it.
The jobs were going to Notting Hill. 21km from 101 Collins St.
'Anyone want to go for a ride?'
I put my hand up and so it was that I had 40 mins to get the jobs done to get paid the GOLD.
39 minutes later, job down. That included pick up and drop, stopping for the odd red light, the hills through the eastern suburbs, and all on one gear.
Now to get home. It was 3.30pm. It was going to take an hour to get back to the fringe of civilisation so my dispatcher gave me the afternoon off.
I rode north along Blackburn rd and passed a bike shop. Open Road Cycles. There was an old Malvern Star track bike in the window. I walked inside. Classic steel Tommasini's and Colnago's nestled among the new bikes. A cabinet full of classic wool jerseys and race numbers. Velo paraphernalia adorned the walls. My little adventure had been worth it just to stumble upon this shop. The owner, Richard King had raced in Belgium, and was equally intrigued to see a track bike being ridden on the road - without brakes. I visited the shop by chance when a rare Willier was there temporarily. Richard had offered serious money for this very early Willier with Cambio corsa derailleurs but it was not for sale. It was the first time I'd seen such a bike in the flesh. There was also a gold Guerciotti there the next time which I took photos of and posted on V.1 of fyx. The Guerciotti appeared in RIDE magazine some time later in the Retro Review. In his workshop was a photo of King and Peiper atop his truck in the Dandenongs from a mountain bike ride from the early 90s. Just the kind of cool you can't buy and Richard's shop was full of. It was from these brief encounters that he discovered this site and spread the word about the first Melburn Roobaix.
It truly is a shame we didn't hang out more.
This one is for Richard. It would have been right up his alley.
This was a customer at MBC's. The Lord told me I had to see it. Story goes it was the customer's Grandfathers, and now it's his commuter. Forget the whack mudguards, and cateye lights and indulge in some pretty cool and interesting components.
Early Record equipped 'Bruno'. Ambrosio sliding stem, Sheffield pedals, Maillard hubs, Universal brakes, Everest freewheel. Note the configuration of the rear wheel that allows for a cluster and a fixed cog. The bigger chainring is also installed backwards which is why the chainring bolts are not flush. I'll take a stab a suggest that it was worn in one direction and the owner prolonged it's life by installing in reverse, or perhaps the mechanic was a muppet. The truth is out there.