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Bike service ends unique cycle "I don't know when the last bike messenger worked in Buffalo"

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor even near-gale-force winds could keep bike messenger Mike Rizzo from his appointed rounds over the past seven years.

But he's hanging up his spokes after today and heading for a different career path.

Rizzo started Zippy Delivery Bicycle Messengers in February 2001 after spending 13 years in the computer field as a full-time network administrator for a local manufacturer.

"It, kind of, was something I just fell into. It wasn't something I planned," Rizzo said of his foray into delivering packages and envelopes by bicycle throughout downtown Buffalo.

"I was looking into other business opportunities and stumbled into that, and considered it because out of all the other opportunities to run my own business, it had a more reasonable start-up cost," Rizzo added.

The fact that a messenger on bicycle is a unique sight in downtown Buffalo also had its appeal.

"I don't know when the last bike messenger worked in Buffalo, but I wouldn't doubt if it was for Western Union 40 [or] 50 years ago," Rizzo said.

The bulk of his clients are lawyers.

"I found that they were a segment of the market that needed the fast delivery so they could get packages and documents around in a fast manner. I also had a couple of customers from the New York City area who picked me up because they were already used to using bike messengers," said Rizzo.

His job has required Rizzo to ride in every conceivable type of weather the Buffalo area has to offer: severe winter weather, of course; high winds; torrential downpours; and even sluggishly hot and humid summer days.

"Winter is not too bad," Rizzo confided. "Downtown is usually pretty clean [of snow], so there are not any major problems. Well, the slush might be, because it's a little slippery."

The job is not for everyone, of course.

Though Rizzo would typically hear from 10 to 30 aspiring bike messengers when he advertised for new hires, many lasted only a day or two before deciding the job isn't really as glamorous as it might sound.

A new owner will be taking over Zippy Delivery after the new year.

Rizzo, a 1982 graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Sloan and a 1985 graduate of Bryant & Stratton Business Institute, is still a relatively young man at 43.

Even though he hasn't officially decided on where his new career path will take him, Rizzo won't be resting on his laurels.

"No, I won't be retiring to Florida," he said.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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