Thursday, March 18, 2010

White Line Nightmare

Some photos from this winter that I finally had time to go through. Experimenting with different settings and different cameras on my commutes and here is what I came up with.

The old Bridgestone still gets some play...




Squeeze...



Sunny day on the C&O...



For some reason I like taking pictures here...



This gate on North Cap gave a cool effect...



Gwadzilla's blog keeps me entertained and lately he has had a couple of bits on stolen bikes and their recovery, which made me remember a pretty good story from '92 or '93...

It was the early '90s in DC; the gravy days of the messenger business, before the anthrax attacks, 9/11, and the Beltway sniper. Yes, those were good ole days, before email and internet took over, when any burnout with a messenger bag could just stroll into pretty much any government office. Summer time was a time for college kids to try their hand at slinging packages and head back to school in the fall and brag about how they helped to save the world that summer delivering junk mail to thier congressman before the weather turned bad and the money got good. Yes, there was good money in the gig, if you were on top of your game and had paid your dues. My dues came during my first summer, fresh out of high school, in the form of a skull fracture, a broken right arm and fractured left, leaving me with a blood clot on my brain that gave me double vision for a week or so. Once I healed up I got right back in the game and stayed there for about 5 more years.

During a slow summer's day I sat in the lower level of 1350 New York Ave, which was home to Choice Courier in the early '90s. Dispatcher Mike Medina got word that Track Bike Steve's custom, double wishbone reared, burnt orange Spectrum track bike had been stolen. Me and some other messengers left the comfort of the office to roll around and keep an eyeball peeled for Steve's rig. I headed northeast into Shaw when I spotted a piper at the housing projects at 7th and M streets trying to ride the bike but unable to figure out why it wouldnt coast.

As I put the call out on the radio, the airwaves came to life with people relaying the information. I was with another messenger, possibly Eric Roman, and we confronted the crack head. "Cool bike. Where did you get it?" Before he could get a word out he was interrupted. "I dont think its yours." The piper began to make a scene and other residents started to gather. Keep in mind, it was a different place back then. No gourmet cafes, no hipsters and no convention center there. Things looked like they could get sketchy so we kept our distance for the moment. Other messengers began to arrive and someone wrestled the bike away from the thief who disappeared in projects.

I can only be sure of what I experienced and witnessed but according to Steve and confirmed piece by piece by various others, the story went like this: Steve was at a MOST machine (ATM) somewhere around 17th and Penn Ave where he leaned his bike as he withdrew money. In the reflection of the ATM he saw the rear wheel of his bike disappear. He ran into the alley, dropping his cash but the thief and bike where nowhere to be seen. He was with another messenger when he got the call that his bike had been spotted across town. He borrowed his friend's bike; another brakeless track bike, this one with SPDs rather than the clips and straps that Steve rode with. While making his way across town, he went over the hood of a car. The driver got out and wanted Steve to wait around for the police. A scuffle insued as the driver attempted to restrain Steve at which point Steve hit the driver dislocating his jaw. Steve came running up to scene with his buddy's bike on his shoulder. Steve grabbed his bike, shouldered the other with bent fork and buckled headtube and made his way back to base, and resumed work as normal.

So many reasons not to leave you bike locked up outdoors for weeks at a time...

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