By Max O’Neil
EUGENE, Ore. — On the corner of Seventh Avenue and Washington street in Eugene, it is 11:00, and a typical quiet start to a sunny Wednesday morning at Jimmy John’s: makers of the “world’s greatest gourmet sandwiches since 1983.” Delivery person Cassidy Bigsby is walking through the door with a biker hat underneath his helmet, wearing a backpack, Jimmy John’s athletic T-shirt and khaki shorts on his tall thin frame.
Bigsby is not the typical delivery person found at most restaurants. Like several other employees at Jimmy John’s in Eugene, he delivers orders by bike, not car. But, because biking is his primary method of transportation he is in excellent physical shape. Most days he rides anywhere from 20 to 30 miles.
Bigsby, 22, is originally from Wisconsin and has worked at Jimmy John’s since his college days in Boise, Idaho. He graduated from Boise State University in 2012, earning a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in English. But, he says a master’s degree is necessary to become a teacher; something he isn’t pursuing right now. He has continued delivering for Jimmy John’s since moving to Eugene five months ago for a change of scenery and to be with his girlfriend.
Nathan Crooks, a fellow delivery biker says it’s often a struggle trying to keep up with Bigsby. “I have a car, and the rest of us have cars. But Cass only rides a bike. That’s all he does.”
The job entails repeatedly delivering customers’ orders on Eugene’s busiest streets within a guaranteed time frame. It is stressful, physically demanding and potentially life-threatening if he isn’t careful. “I try to get a good breakfast in and just stay hydrated,” Bigsby says. His easiest deliveries come from the downtown area. But others come from as far away as the University of Oregon campus and Valley River Center area, nearly two miles away from Jimmy John’s.
It’s now 11:32, and Bigsby’s first delivery order of the day is in. It’s a big order too: a 15 piece party platter going to the office of the Oregon Supported Living Program on 1250 Charnelton St. 0.6 miles away. The platter is too big for his bag, so he’ll have to ride one-handed.
He straps his helmet back on, walks outside to unlock his black Cannondale Ultra X, and the day begins. Racing through the parking lot on his bike, he quickly crosses highway 99 as a red light momentarily halts oncoming traffic. Still riding one-handed he takes a hard right onto Charnelton St.: five blocks to go.
Coming up on 10th St. Bigsby is gaining on an elderly man casually riding his roadster in the bike lane. Seeing Bigsby through the rear view mirror above his left handlebar, he quickly moves over. “My least favorite part is the traffic. I’ve gotten hit twice already by cars here,” Bigsby says. He was never once hit by a car when he delivered for Jimmy John’s in Boise. Moments later Bigsby arrives at OSLP. He walks in, delivers the platter, collects the money, and walks out. This order was easy. Now, it’s back to Jimmy John’s and on to the next order.
Bigsby has always enjoyed his time at Jimmy John’s. “I love that I just get paid to ride my bike around. It’s one of my favorite things to do to be able to just go around and see the city and meet a bunch of people,” Bigsby says.
The day is moving quickly. It’s close to 1:00 in the afternoon. Orders haven’t stopped since his first delivery to OSLP at 11:32. This order coming up is far away, taking him back down highway 99 and past the train tracks to High St. “Most of the time you’re kind of just in your zone just going and collecting your money and going back,” Bigsby says. At least it’s only two sandwiches.
After five consecutive green lights on 99, he shows no signs of slowing down, closely trailing the bumper of an old Ford Windstar in the far left lane. Turning left onto High St. and pedaling across the train tracks, Bigsby delivers his seventh order of the day.
“He is in way loads better shape than anyone else here. As we get through the day he’s always still going strong on his bike,” Crooks says. On average Bigsby says he has around 15 deliveries during his typical 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. shift.
Since graduating from college, Bigsby has considered future options besides teaching. A self-proclaimed animal lover, Bigsby now hopes someday to start his own business training dogs. He currently owns two dogs of his own: a Lab mix and a Boston terrier Wiener mix. He hopes to continue to live in the Pacific Northwest.
“I’d say my best experience was I helped a guy chase down his dog on my bike,” Bigsby says. “Every once in a while on the job you’ll have those nice encounters.”