Cycling to Deliver Food For DoorDash: Experience of a Ugandan girl in Canada

If you had told me last year, that I would be trying to make money delivering food , on a freaking bicycle, I would have probably called you crazy.

But I guess that’s the beauty about life – VERY UNPREDICTABLE!!!!

It’s one thing moving to a new country where you literally have no family or friends, but it’s a whole other thing doing so, right at the dawn of a world-wide pandemic.

Today’s post is not about Brenda’s cycling experiences in Kampala, but mine – a once Kampala girl but currently in Vancouver.

My name is Bridget and I came to Canada at the beginning of this year – January 2020 – to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Upon my arrival, I found myself a nice comfortable place to stay that was close to school and within my budget

After settling down, I planned to get a job since my study permit allowed me to work part time as I attended school

So all I needed to do was send in a number of applications to different cafes, restaurants and grocery stores for some part time work.

Pretty much very easy, right?

Wrong!

2020 definitely had different plans for me.

Not only were most people hiring full time, my options were quickly dwindling as most businesses closed down due to the government-mandated lockdown.

After submitting a couple of resumes, with ONLY ONE REPLY to let me know that the position I was applying for had been filled, I realized this was not working.

Because well, it’s common knowledge that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

I had bills to pay – there is literally a bill for everything here, I’m pretty sure we are billed for our daily oxygen intake🙄

With savings slowly shrinking, I figured I actually needed a new working strategy – and wayyyyyy sooner than soon.

So, one fine summer afternoon as I was seated at a café working on some assignments (the library was closed due to the lockdown and I study better anywhere but the place I sleep), I took a moment to watch the people around me.

Vancouver folks surely love to ride!

Cyclists in Vancouver

It’s like the primary mode of transport, especially over the weekends.

On a nice sunny Saturday afternoon, you will find more bicycles than cars on the road.

I also noticed that there were a number of riders delivering food with services like Uber eats, DoorDash , Skip the dishes and so on

“What if I tried it out as well?” I wondered.

And in that moment, an idea was born!

I mean, I had not touched a bicycle since I was 13 but they say such skills never leave you – they are a part of muscle memory.

The idea seemed feasible and worth trying out

So I talked to a new friend of mine who helped me find a bicycle on facebook market place – well the best he could find within my budget.

I started doing some late-night practice.

Practising at night with my bike.

Every night, at around 22:00 when I was sure there were few cars on the road, I went out to give my new bike a spin.

I must confess, I stumbled a couple of times at the start.

But my muscles were able to remember soon enough and within 3 days, I was cruisingggg.

Heaven knows how amazing it is to ride in the summer night – the wind rushing past me as I rode made me feel like I was low-key flying🤗, no lie!

I figured I was ready to start delivering so I applied to uber eats and Door dash.

Having completed my background check faster within 2 days of applying and officially confirmed with no obstacles, I went with Doordash

How it works:

So once you get online as a Dasher, you receive delivery requests from DoorDash which if you accept, you are given directions to the pickup point and only given directions to the delivery point after you pick up the order.

The app is directly connected to google maps so one just needs to access the directions through the app.

I just had to complete one delivery to be a full “dasher”.

I remember putting this off a number of times for I was definitely scared.

As much as drivers here are a lot more disciplined than those back home, I was still worried a car might throw me right off the road.

The bike lanes help yes, but they aren’t everywhere.

However, that was not as concerning as my financial state – I was getting strapped for cash so I either had to overcome the fear or overcome the fear.

Eventually, I took on my first delivery

A picture showing my bike with a bag I use to do deliveries

No one wants to have their food delivered cold, so I had to ride fast in order to make the delivery on time, besides, the faster you deliver, the more tips you are likely to get.

Luckily, my first delivery was with in my neighbourhood

I managed to make the delivery, albeit a few minutes after time and with some very soar legs, not to mention I was sweating profusely.

It was about 15 minutes from the pick-up point but I still did not quite make it on time for a number of reasons.

You see, my bicycle is a used one – it’s what I could find with in my budget – and even though it has gears, I had no idea how to operate them.

My bicycle looking nice like it doesn’t give me trouble while trying to change gears.

I probably should have tried to figure that out first before I started delivering because Vancouver is quite hilly and I am grossly out of shape.

That was the only delivery I made that day – you can imagine!!!!!!!!

I did not deliver again for a number of days, and started pondering whether I actually wanted to do this

But I had to – my purse required me to.

So I logged in to do another delivery

I want to say this time was better but I would be lying😥.

It was probably worse, like way worse!!!!!

Wanting to do more deliveries that day, I put my bike on the bus and went downtown because this is where all the fun happens.

I excitedly opened a notification for my first delivery to make, only to curse afterwards.

Not only was the place  a couple of minutes from the pickup point, but it was also up one of the steepest hills I had ridden so far.

New wilderness trail opens up 'wonderland' on Vancouver Island | CBC News
A peak of a hill before the sope.

This is where a bike with gears comes in handy and you are probably wondering whether I figured out the gears

Yes, I did.

I asked my friend that helped me get the bike for help, regarding figuring the gears out.

And in fact, while he was on it, he gave me some pro tips on how I could change the gears

But either I was doing them wrong, or I am just a bad workman because they did not seem to make much difference.

Yes, the difference was there, but after doing the first delivery, I barely felt my legs and my breathing rate was like I was from a marathon.

On the good side of things, I did get more orders that day but only managed to make 4 deliveries, which was an achievement by the way, considering I almost died.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but honest to God, I almost got a heart attack riding up to one of my deliveries.

To cut the long story short, I have done about 8 deliveries to date and I have been late on all of them – about 5-10 minutes late – but late nonetheless.

I decided to dress for my deliveries as I would dress for the gym because at least those clothes were made for the sweat.

Bridget after a ride.

I have sweated more in the last number of weeks than I have pretty much since March (when lock down started), which I guess is a good thing.

It’s not all bad though, because when I wasn’t rushing to make a delivery, riding felt great.

The amazing rush of endorphins after a day’s work almost made me forget the unbearable ache in my legs.

Since my fall semester started, I have not delivered in a while, but I intend on getting back there, probably after I get myself a good bike and some serious delivery gear.

I am definitely not as fit as Brenda, and do not have the same riding enthusiasm as she does, not to mention I would be caught dead on a gearless bicycle!

But riding is definitely growing on me.

I know I’m not about to get used to maneuvering the Vancouver hills, and my legs are going to feel like jelly after a day’s deliveries, but the hustle must go on, and like Brenda says, “regardless, we ride.”

PS: I want to thank Brenda for encouraging and giving me the opportunity to share a bit of my story here – it’s not every day that I get featured on a cycling blog.

Yours Truly,

–Bridget Mwanje

18 Comments

  1. Actions create results. Keep taking action Bridget. They may seem like baby steps now, but you have gained something far more valuable. Life experience, Character and Hardness. Keep trying. Take on more challenges and be the best you can be 🙂 One peddle at a time, one step at a time. You will see great results 🙂

    Like

  2. Truth be told it had become normal when Brenda started riding to work. Little did I know my very own Bridget would also start doing deliveries with her bike. U guys have made us see this other side of life. U are indeed go getters. Am soo motivated and plan to join. This team

    Like

  3. What a great way to combine exercise with work. I believe you’re “late” for all those deliveries because people usually use the car to deliver the food. You might be at a disadvantage.
    Anyway, I hope you figure it out.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

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