Friday, February 18, 2011

Ice Cream Bike or Hipster Killer?

It's a funny juxtaposition--a disproportionately large delivery truck sharing an alley with a relatively small delivery bike. "This is my morning everyday," says Daniel Brewster as we pedal through a parking lot and into the alley. Brewster is owner and rider of Cascade Couriers, a bicycle delivery service in Bend, Oregon. "The trucks are clogging the alley and I can just ride around them." He makes his delivery of pastries to Lone Pine Coffee, likely one of the places where the delivery trucks delivered their products. The time is just shy of 7 a.m. and Daniel and I have been riding for almost an hour.
This is Daniel's delivery bike.

Compared to a large delivery truck, Daniel's delivery bike cannot carry very much--a few tubs of pastries and a couple dozen baguettes and him. Except for the extra large fiberglass delivery container on the front (Don't call it an ice-cream bike, by the way. Daniel hates it, when you call it an ice-cream bike), it's really just a normal bike. Though small in stature, the bike is a machine (no pun intended). It is capable of handling 200 pounds and Daniel says he has carried around 400 pounds, fully loaded with The Source Weekly, a local newspaper. It is surprisingly stable on snow and ice, though the small front wheel makes it difficult to maneuver in chunky snow conditions. One day this year with a light load, he even laid it down in a corner on some ice. The bike slid all the way into the other lane. On the bright side, it was early enough that traffic was really light still. 

The lights are coming on.
Daniel orders a 16 ounce mocha at Thump Coffee. We have to wait for Sparrow Bakery to finish with some pastries, so that we can take those to Bread LaVoy. The break is welcome as my fingers are a little chilly in my Black Diamond fleece gloves. Daniel's mocha arrives graced with a beautifully poured Rosetta. "We are looking into getting a Sprinter van that runs off bio-diesel that we can use to expand our business to all of Central Oregon," he says. He sips his mocha. "It isn't practical for us to deliver by bike, exclusively." Cascade Couriers employs two other riders part-time and has been a presence in Central Oregon for several years. The company started with a composting service that picked up compost from households throughout Central Oregon. The compost was taken to Fields Farm, east of Bend--all by bicycle. Sometimes the trailers could be loaded with upwards of 500 pounds of compost. Though composting is no longer a part of Cascade Courier's service, the bike delivery service is as busy as ever. Along with bakery goods, they deliver legal documents, mail, produce from the farmer's market and they now even offer a lunch delivery service. Daniel finishes his mocha and we put our helmets and gloves back on. It's time to ride again.

Enough said.
Out in the cold once again, I ask him what his biggest pet peeve is. He says that when he's riding, he tries to keep a positive attitude. "I just try to give people room, because that's what I hope they will give me." We discuss the concept of people generally being more scared around us (cyclists) than we are around them. I fight for breath as we talk about our favorite interactions with motorists. He says people always cut close to him at the intersection of Colorado and Arizona. We arrive at Sparrow once again to pick up another load of pastries. We'll make a couple more stops before my time with Daniel ends. Though the temperature didn't climb above 25 degrees on our two and a half hour ride together, I was warm from riding and the excitement of taking new routes and meeting new people.

I rode home exhilarated. I was wide awake. It felt good to be out so early and in the company of someone with vision. As I was making my last turn into the driveway, my bike slipped out from under me on a patch of ice and I fell for the first time this winter (besides the other time, which was not snow related). The perfect end, to a good morning ride.

1 comment:

  1. Cascade Couriers is an Amazing service that I will support time and time again. It brings endless joy to my heart knowing we have a company so devoted to bikes, the environment, and quality service here in Bend! Nice Post...thank you:O)