Josh Rovner is the living embodiment of the adage “time is money.” As a rider for Clementine Courier he pushes pedals on the pavement regularly, weaving through traffic with the precision of a well-oiled machine, all in the name of delivering packages on time. In just a year and half, Clementine has amassed a dedicated client base from all types of industries, including fashion, whose daily deliveries include garment bags and shopping bags up to fifty pounds over the standard weight limit.
Rovner, who has been cycling his whole life, is blessed with a tall and lean body type that can handle such uneven weight ratios at top speed. It’s not surprising that when he’s not delivering packages, he’s training for races. Working as a courier helps him build stamina for the long haul by making him bike extremely long distances. “A good one I did was out to JFK—that was pretty fun. I’ve gone up to Connecticut before, out to New Jersey too,” says Rovner. An airport delivery is easily a 40-mile round-trip guaranteed to keep him off the radar for at least half the day, and since Rovner gets paid per package drop, that’s quite the time commitment.
Like most messengers, Rovner and his team of four other riders pack the same essentials every day. His kit includes bunches of rope to strap things to his body, spare pens and notebooks and a clipboard full of manifests; essential paperwork that every rider must always have on his or her person. Now that the mercury outside is dropping, Rovner is also careful to pack gear to fight the elements. “In fall I always keep arm warmers or gloves, and sometimes a rain jacket with me,” he says.
Rovner also carries a hefty arsenal of tools he uses for everything from making small adjustments to his bike to reinforcing the cleats on his shoes. Now that he can store these in his Coach Bowery Leather Handlebar bag, he’s got more free space for precious packages. Rovner also carries a spare $20 bill, just in case, and a tube of super glue to patch up cuts and prevent the need for stitches. It’s kind of gruesome, but definitely hardcore. “Accidents happen a lot, most of the time we’re OK. You kind of have to learn how to fall,” points out Rovner.
Even off the clock, most of the Clementine Courier crew keep at least one bag on them, presumably out of habit, to not only to fix their bikes on the go, but also to stash a few beers on their backs. During the rare times they go without the baggage, Rovner and his friends, used to riding while weighted down, revel in the difference: “All of a sudden we’re really fast, really light, and really agile. You lose 20 pounds and that weight to muscle ratio is adjusted.”
Most of the time, however, Rovner finds himself strapped. Clementine Courier prides itself on its riders’ ability to carry odd-sized and heavy packages all around town, a standard that has Rovner constantly adjusting his riding pattern to be efficient, but still safe. Whenever he finds himself loaded down, he can’t help but think, “I just earned my beer.”