Guest story submitted by Jennifer Roberts
This could be a story about social media, or the tight-knit Boulder community or being a bike messenger in the age of email, Twitter and texting. In many ways, it's about all three. Nan is a bicycle courier for Denver/Boulder Couriers (http://www.dbcouriers.com/) and can often be seen around town riding her iconic pink-rimmed bicycle. The only reason I learned about Nan was that a small community of people in Boulder had a case of ‘bike-envy” and a Twitter feed to post when one of them had spotted Nan(@nansighting) .They started the group and Twitter feed to both promote cycling culture in Boulder and show their appreciation and respect for a cool, fixie-riding, mother-of-3 Boulder gem!
We met at the Laughing Goat to find out how she got started as a bicycle courier, her favorite winter gear and her opinion on Twitter.
Tell me about yourself and what you do?
I was a barista at a coffee shop called Sidney’s, where the couriers would drop in. I used to bug the owner of Denver/Boulder couriers, Chris Grealish, asking if I could have one of their jerseys and was told I would have to earn it! And I really wanted the shirt. One day while I was at work, one of the couriers, Elliott , who actually still rides in Denver, mentioned there was an opening, so I walked on over and applied. The owners of the coffee shop knew and were real supportive. I’ve been a courier for about 5 years. I’m one the longest serving couriers; there’s one guy in Denver, who has been around longer than I have but there’s not much turn over. It’s a great job and people who are in it really wanted it. I really love what I do. They give us jerseys and clothes and the chrome bags are awesome. We are so lucky.
Even during the winter?
Yes! I use bigger tires, wear lots of warm clothes and keep a good attitude. Swrve has great winter gear and anything wool is great. I always wear a Patagonia jacket as my outside layer.
What does your typical day look like?
We typically show up around 8 or 9, it depends on who is early that day. In general, we all meet at 9am and the dispatchers will tell us what our route is and more about the packages, pick-ups and drop-offs we’ll be doing for that day. Every 2 hours we reconvene near the bus station, which is also where we exchange packages with the Denver couriers.
This is a great aspect of the job because the bus riders; the individuals, carrying the packages for us on the bus, are from Chinook Club House. (http://www.chinookclubhouse.org/) The Chinook Club House is a program to help people integrate back into the community by providing them with opportunities to live and work in the community. The whole system of getting stuff back-n-forth between the two cities is pretty neat as it helps give people a second chance to get back into the community. And the Denver-Boulder Couriers has been doing this for some time.
How do you feel having a twitter feed dedicated to sightings of you?
It felt a little awkward at first but now I’m friends with some really cool women. They used to text each other that they saw me, and then Heather turned it into a Twitter feed. It came in handy when my bike was stolen, which Jason #1 found on campus after about three days. I think someone just wanted a ride home.
What are the biggest issue cycling in Boulder?
Boulder is actually very mellow; it's just those darn phones. People on cell phones, texting or wearing headphones are the biggest issues for me. And it’s a daily issue. But the coffee is great all over town. I really like the Laughing Goat; it’s super consistent.
Any last comments?
There is a race organized by DBCEvents on April 10, 2011 in Mead, Colorado called the Mead Roubaix. Chris Grealish, the owner of DBC couriers, is putting on the event and you can find out more visiting the site http://dbcevents.com/home/mead-roubaix/ I’ll be wearing #18