Speedy Delivery: Brake-Fast of Champions

This past Saturday was October 9th, and I observed the date as I always do: by throwing a Vrouw Maria theme party and reenacting the unfortunate sinking of this Dutch cargo ship off the coast of Finland. It's hard to believe it's been 239 years since the Vrouw Maria went down, since I remember the sinking as though it were yesterday, having lost nearly a hundredweight of indigo pigments from the Far East. (A "hundredweight" is an old-timey unit of weight measurement roughly equivalent to a modern "shit-ton.") With this indigo I had intended to dye a limited run of Dutch East India Company "collabo" tri-corner hats for velocipedists, but alas, my hopes were dashed in the icy waters and consigned to Davy Jones's panniers on that fateful day.

In any case, amid all this reminiscing I completely forgot that October 9th was also "Messenger Appreciation Day:"

I remembered it today with the same jolt of surprise and embarrassment with which you realize you missed your cats' anniversary. (I marry all my pets since I don't believe they should be allowed to cohabitate in sin.) After all, I appreciate messengers profoundly, and Messenger Appreciation Day is my favorite of all the holidays commemorating obsolete professionals. Cooper Appreciation Day, Milkman Appreciation Day, Bloodletter's Appreciation Day--none of these is nearly as auspicious to me as the day on which we celebrate the people who deliver documents in designer bags for money. (Though I do always take advantage of those fantastic Bloodletter's Appreciation Day leeching discounts, and I sometimes even affix a leech to each knee when I ride, which is a totally "old skool" trick known as "medieval knee warmers.")

I will however say in my defense that, while I may have forgotten Messenger Appreciation Day, it did fall on a Saturday this year. It's hard to observe Messenger Appreciation Day on Saturday, since most messengers take the weekends off from their rigorous schedule of riding around the city while stoned in order to relax and ride around the city while stoned. Also, the messengers seem to be doing a fine job of appreciating themselves. In fact, despite their obsolescence--or perhaps because of it--messengers appear to have plenty of time and resources to travel around the world and celebrate their lifestyle. Just like cyclocross has overtaken road and triathlon as the most extravagant form of amateur cyclesport, so too have messengers overtaken professional bike racers when it comes to international jet-setting, and it seems like scarcely a week goes by that messengers from around the world are not converging on some exotic parcours and pretending to work. (Or, more accurately, pretending to pretend to work.) For example, as most people are aware, last month the Cycle Messenger World Championships took place in Guatemala:

2010 Cycle Messenger World Championships from Connor Boals on Vimeo.

By all accounts, Guatemalans were amazed to witness "lifestyle employment" in action, since it is something that does not exist in their culture. (Instead, they tend to "work," which has largely fallen out of favor in the United States and Europe and which involves offering necessary goods and services in exchange for money.) Here is one messenger showing young Guatemalans that, in cosmopolitan cities, "cool people" always have the right of way on the sidewalk:

("Heads up!," shouts a messenger to a child, not wanting to damage his high-end racing wheelset on the cobblestones.)

Of course, the idea of events like the CMWC is to simulate a messenger's working day. For example, the "backwards circles" competition is based on the way messengers will ride really fast backwards in order to reverse time when a package is late:

The "trackstand competition" replicates those moments when a messenger must answer his shoe phone without dismounting:

And the myriad checkpoints replicate the package drop-offs messengers must make in order to earn money for tattoo time:

But while the CMWC was a success, it was not without its complications. For example, according to the race director, "The streets that we were told would be ours we had to share with the 'tuk-tuks' [and] trucks hauling sand out from the side of the lake:"

I would certainly agree that those Guatemalans have a lot of audacity to be getting in the way of a bunch of cyclists pretending to deliver fake packages while they do frivolous things like going about their everyday lives and protecting their towns from flooding. This is precisely the kind of "me first" attitude that's going to take them out of the running as a venue for the CMWC 2011, which will cost the local economy literally dozens of American dollars in Gallo beer and weed revenue.

Still, few accomplishments in cyclesport are as glorious as winning the CMWC, and just as the UCI road racing world champion gets to wear the coveted rainbow jersey for a year, the Cycle Courier World Champion gets to sport the CMWC Red Beard of Glory:

(This rider was duly crowned bearded the Cycle Messenger World Champion after pretending to deliver packages the fastest.)

Though, like the rainbow stripes, there are some messengers who wear this beard entirely as a fashion statement:

Then, after returning to "work" for a couple of days, North American messengers traveled once again--this time to Atlanta, GA for the North American Cycle Courier Championships, or NACCC:

In addition to pretending to deliver packages, competitors also engaged in "fixed-gear freestyle" as well as "bike culture Hacky Sack" (also sometimes referred to as "Bike Polo"):

But messenger competitions aren't just big bike races--they're also part trade show, and they afford messengers from different cities an opportunity to share "tricks of the trade." For example, while most American messengers "portage" their loads on their backs, messengers from Canada prefer to carry them in the front:

(Messenger demonstrates the "Marsupial Portaging Technique" so popular in the Great White North.)

This does tend to compromise the rider's visibility somewhat, which is why if you employ it you should always wear a pair of "Canadian Oakleys:"

By the way, rumor has it that a group of messengers en route to the NACCC accidentally wound up at the NACC, or North American Christian Convention:

Apparently the misguided messengers never even noticed, and they reported that Francis Chan totally "killed it" in the "Poetry Slam:"

("My burden is the suffering of Jesus, and no Chrome bag is big enough to carry it.")

Chan is now the heavy favorite for next year's European Cycle Messenger Championship, held last year in Budapest but moving next year to a Sandals resort in St. Lucia which will be offering a special all-inclusive messenger group rate:

At any rate, as of 2010, there are now officially more messenger championships than there are actual working messengers.

Speaking of smugness, a reader has informed me of this "car-shaped bike rack," which fits 15 bicycles in a space that would otherwise be occupied by a single car:

I'm not sure why this is supposed to be impressive. First of all, who would want to park their bicycle in the street between two cars? If you've ever watched the average person attempt to parallel park a car, you know they go about it like an impotent man trying to consummate a marriage--they stab and stab at the space repeatedly without managing to get it in. Then, assuming they don't give up and drive away, they hit the surrounding cars like a cue ball on a bumper pool table. If this rack were to be installed in New York City all 15 of those bikes would be scrap metal by the end of the day.

Secondly, while I realize this is supposed to be some sort of commentary on the spatial efficiency of the bicycle, is this really a revelation? Bicycles are smaller than passenger jets too--maybe someone should design a 2,000-bicycle rack in the shape of a plane that they can install in a hanger out at the airport? And why even limit it to vehicles? Why not a bicycle rack in the shape of a mailbox, or a shawarma cart, or a newsstand, or an Old Navy? Or, they could just keep putting those perfectly useful u-shaped racks on the sidewalk, though I suppose that wouldn't be smug or "David Byrne-y" enough. In a way, locking your bicycle to one of David Byrne's "brain farts" is almost as embarrassing as getting mugged by someone in a chicken suit:

By the way, while I do often cycle in a chicken suit, I can account for my whereabouts at the time. Even if I can't, I'll just say I was at some sort of messenger championship, since I'm sure there was one going on somewhere when the theft occurred.

Finally, I should remind you that you have two more days to submit a photograph for "Cockie" consideration, but keep in mind that you will have to compete with the likes of the new Apple "iCockie," spotted in Brooklyn:

As you can see, it acts as a fairing to protect the rider's stuffed menagerie:

Together with the desk lamps and the motorcycle light bar, this one is going to be tough to beat.

automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine