text : Chas Christiansen / photo : Gophrette Power
Once a year bike messengers from around the world converge on an unwitting city to determine who IS the best at picking things up and dropping them off.... The Cycle Messenger World Championship (CMWC) celebrated its 24th edition this year in Montreal Canada. Over the course of a long sunny weekend bike messengers compete in a variety of events to test not only bike handling, fitness, courier skills and messenger prowess but also liver fortitude, true grit, and dancing stylez.
The main race simulates a typical messenger work day on the level playing of a close course. Various sponsors stage checkpoints, acting a offices putting out deliveries to one another. Couriers compete in timed work scenarios to earn the most money by juggling rush jobs, round trips, and bulky packages. A qualifier round on Saturday narrowed the 2017 race from 250 hopefuls to 60 male and 20 Female/Trans/Non-binery racers for the Sunday main event.
The 3.5 hour main race on Sunday featured multiple rush manifests, with narrow windows of time to earn big dollars on red hot rush jobs. The elusive "double-dip" tickets allowed racers to gamble and double their earnings but chancing long distance jobs against a ticking clock. This frantic yet controlled chaos unfolded under the Montreal Expo center, home of the 1976 Olympic games, providing the racers with open stretches to test their legs as well as tight turns and steep ramps of the old Olympic village to navigate all while routing and planning their upcoming pickups and drop offs.
Some messengers take the racing and associated bragging rights seriously while others choose to test their mettle in other pursuits. Post main race a plethora of side events took place to test the various skills of the gathered couriers. Track Stands test their balance on the bikes, Skids sort out who exactly is the worst at stopping, Foot Down creates a no holds barred Thunderdome melee of deviousness and bike handling. The truly hardy couriers competes in all events on a track bike, fighting for the coveted title of Track King and Queen.
This year a diverse crowd of couriers from almost every continent (I guess someone needs to start a service in Antartica) came and enjoyed all the Poutine and bagels Montreal could offer. Our 2016 reigning champs Jojo from Copenhagen and Cecile from Paris repeated their previous podiums to take the titles for another year, Crihs from NYC and Heather from Seattle took Track King and Queen. Many many street beers were drank, hundreds of thousands of Tim-bits were consumed, and no one spent more than a night in jail. The organizers and volunteers put on a fantastic event for the courier community. Only 364 more days till CMWC 2018 in Riga Latvia!!!