Have you ever had the desire to grab multiple boxes of fragile cookies, strap them to your bike, and make a mad dash across campus to deliver them to a starving, drunken horde? If so, you might enjoy being a delivery rider for Insomnia Cookies, one of two businesses (along with Jimmy John’s) in Champaign-Urbana to utilize the more agile riders to make quick deliveries through the tangled streets of Campustown. “I’ve definitely beaten the driver back to the store consistently on my bike many times,” says Braden Elliott, who delivered for Insomnia during the 2007-08 academic year. “I didn’t have to avoid busy streets, stop at lights or signs, go the right way on a one-way, or find a road to go around (rather than through) campus.”
According to Tim He, who also delivered for Insomnia last school year, an elaborate package-carrying setup is not necessary. When it comes to carting cookies, the “best way is with a rack, milk crate and bungee cords. The cookies come in boxes, which need to lay flat, or the cookies get smashed together.” Elliott also preferred the milk crate method, but added that the type of bike has an effect on the performance as well. “My street fixie [fixed-gear bike, a city messenger staple] with the rack didn’t harm the cookies,” he noted, “but the mountain bike I was on in the spring chewed all the deliveries to pieces if I let them ride in a basket.” Those milk crates carried heavy loads, too, up to six boxes of cookies and six quarts of milk on one trip.
Bike delivery folks have to deal with all the indignities of car-based couriers, plus a few exclusive to their mode of transportation. Elliott reported “drunk pedestrians jaywalking in front of me against the light, then stopping directly in my path to throw up their booze, drivers cutting me off on Green incessantly, cool dudes yelling at me to slow down and calling me a fag.” Also, Tim He told of reports that people would steal cookies off riders’ racks while they were waiting at a stoplight.
The job isn’t without its perks, though. “It’s great to have the streets pretty much to yourself once it gets late enough,” He observed. Elliott added, “It kept me in great shape and was a great reminder to solve problems sustainably, plus it gave me great bragging rights and stories and helped me know C-U like the back of my hand in the six months I lived there.”
Watch out for bikes when you’re out and about, they could be bearing a precious cookie cargo.
Notes from the cycling community
As the Tour de France gears up overseas, the ICC Superweek festivities are ready to kick off this weekend in Chicagoland. If you’re going to be up that way, there will be at least one race every day from July 11-27.
Bicycle Illinois made an overnight stop in Champaign last night, at the end of the fourth day of its six-day trek from Cairo to Chicago.