Monday, January 25

George Christensen, Earn Local, Ride Global

George Nov. 2009 near Zhengzhou China

From the Chicago Reader.
George Christensen, a 55-year-old bike messenger, likes to set challenges for himself. In 1975 he sat through every inning of every game in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. In 1991 he made 73 deliveries in one day, a record for Chicago bike messengers at the time. Last spring he attended 70 movies in 12 days.

But of all his serial obsessions, one stands out. Any bicycling enthusiast might take one long trip of 5,000 or more miles. Some take two or three. Christensen has taken 15. He's also done at least one 1,000-mile tour every year since 1977 and more 300-to-500-mile trips than he can count. At this point, he says, "It takes several days of jogging the memory to shake them all out."

Since 1989 he's been a messenger with Cannonball, now called Dynamex. He works only in the winter--he says there are fewer pedestrians to contend with and the money's better because fewer messengers are working--and the rest of the year he tours. He says sometimes on a frigid January morning a downtown office worker will ask sympathetically if he's all right. He isn't insulted. He knows you don't see many white-haired bicycle messengers, especially in the winter. "If I tell them a little bit about myself," he says, "they're relieved." Then it's his turn to feel sorry for them. "I feel like I'm out there riding around the Loop asserting my freedom, going by buses with all these people that are comatose and people sleepwalking down the sidewalks. And I'm intensely alive out there, alert and sensitive to every little stimuli.

You can read the rest at the rest of the article at or check out George's blog at

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