Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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.

90 comments:

Anonymous said...

Boooosh!

Anonymous said...

and 2

Anonymous said...

and SWEEEP! 123

Anonymous said...

Bow Down, suckas!

Anonymous said...

Holy crap! Top 10? This is what I get for working at home!

PawnShop said...

Meh.

Anonymous said...

Top ten!

yogisurf said...

Lead group

yogisurf said...

Anon, LOL, working at home too and hitting F5 periodically!

Anonymous said...

What's going on on this side?

Anonymous said...

In the final sprint but ran out of gas. damn.

Bad Lawyer said...

I love the Canadian Oakleys, I'm going to see if WorldCycling has any. Bet Phil Ligget rocks these specs.

CommieCanuck said...

Canadians do everything from the rear.

samh said...

Q: Why do Canadians screw doggy-style?

A: So both can watch the hockey game.

Anonymous said...

I used to play a Canadian trombone
Looking for a used tuba

g said...

"Hundredweight"? "Shit-ton"? I feel these numbers are meant to be impressive. Can someone please give the conversion to Milk or Babies?

Anonymous said...

Canadian EPO

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poutine

Anonymous said...

Top 20, ladies!!!!

Nogocyclist said...

Bike Snob, for some reason your link of a shoe phone went to the wrong example.

This is the right photo.
Shoe Phone

hillbilly said...

winner winner chicken dinner

crosspalms said...

Sales of those fairings raise money for PETSA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Stuffed Animals.

CommieCanuck said...

Canadian EPO
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poutine


According to allegations against Mike Barry at US Postal, Canadian EPO is...EPO.

The Canadian Oakleys were the invention of Terrance and Phillip, two famous Canadian pervs who liked to check out women in crowds.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

Costumed muggers.....maybe they'd seen Restless Natives?

(this is a film made in Scotland, so people who live on the outside* often haven't heard of it)

*which may or may not exist.

hey nonny mouse

10,000 Aches said...

old-timey "shit-ton" caused me to choke on my feedbag

Pontius Pilate said...

HRDY GRDY

-P.P.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Nogocyclist, thanks a lot. Now I have unwelcome Barbara Feldon wood here in the office.

They just don't make 'em like they used to...

yofilly said...

Very funny post, Snobby.

"nearly a hundredweight of indigo pigments from the Far East". I don't get that. Could you please convert to babies?

John said...

Copycat squirrel mugging:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqltIamw_CQ

shmaltz herring said...

The red-bearded winner is quite the high talker!

John said...

Linkified:

Squirrel mugging

Indy Falconheads said...

28 comments but only 10 or so thoughts.

Get a job!

crosspalms said...

Already have job. At job now. Just don't want to do job now.

Astroluc said...

rockin' the red-beard of victory...

colobiker said...

Donde es el calle senor?

Not Alberto Contador said...

It is a little recognised fact that the Spanish name "Alberto Contator" loosely translated into English becomes: "Anonymous Commenter". From this piece on information alone it would be ridiculous and defamatory to suggest that Contador was a serial anonymous commenter, but reading some of yesterdays comments I couldn't help but wonder if Snob's Meatgate humour may have got under AC's skin, so to speak. Using forensic linguistics to compare extracts from AC's recent press release to extracts from yesterdays anonymous comments I was astonished to find that there was indeed a match: "...absolute lack of veracity" = "ueat dick" 97% MATCH! I thought you all should know.

By the way, as you have heard, down in "Bolivia's Spinal Cord" they are conducting the Mega Spinal Tap to rescue the miners. Until the news coverage, I like many others didn't know what the Chilean flag looked like, but now I am predicting a mass migration of minimalists from the United States to Chile, in search of the ideals exemplified in the Chilean National Flag. ce

Matt said...

I don't think the bicycles in that rack would be destroyed by clumsy fumbling attempts at parallel parking. By the time the car showed up, all that would be left would be 15 front wheels carefully U-locked to the rack.

old hipster said...

Guatemalan per capita income is about $380/month.

mikeweb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

@OldHipster - so about the same as a bike messenger?

Anonymous said...

first?

mikeweb said...

Huh, I always thought messenger appreciation day falls on April 20th.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does the Cycle Messenger World Champion look a lot like Levi Leipheimer finally found his hair but put it in the wrong place?

Anonymous said...

FMOS PERV

hennie kuiper said...

I wish that you would not make light of the tragedy that is the sinking of the Vrouw Maria. I lost my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather's first cousin once removed in that wreck.

To you, it is just a clever joke. to me, the pain is as real and visceral as if it just happened yesterday.

Ed said...

That is one bad-ass cockpit, but not as bad as the ass who rides it: http://newamsterdamize.com/only-in-bikenyc/

Anonymous said...

"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"


ROLFLOL!

Anonymous said...

"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"


ROLFLOL!

PawnShop said...

Too soon?

grog said...

bike-theft is a legal activity among gorillas and chickens

Hagar the Pretty Bad said...

crank = hanger (if British)
airport = hangar

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I'd hit it.

3G said...

how many babies does a hundredweight translate to?

Anonymous said...

The mining disaster was staged....they all came uo clean shaven. DUH!

AverageJoeCyclist said...

There's this web site that's started to call for banning of cyclist organizations and fewer bike lanes. Someone pointed out that this is GOOD - cyclists must be becoming a force to be reckoned with if people are bothering to fight with us. That's why it made me feel all warm and fuzzy to see the odd bits of anti-Canadian stuff on the comments - we must be getting pretty scary if big ol' New Yorkers are taking us that seriously!

Seriously though, interesting web site - seems you have the same class warfare going on as we have here ... I'll add a link on my web site.

Salty and Sore said...

Hey, Snob,

If he's impotent, I don't think it will be a stabbing motion.

...Then, assuming they don't give up and [drive] away, they hit the surrounding [cars] like a cue ball on a bumper pool table.

Probably more accurate to the first point, as well.

Wish I had more time to catch up. I'm missing gold in them thar writin's!

Samuel said...

Despite its inherent smugness the car-shaped bike rack does have its merits - and might work with some changes, such as extra poles with a loop on them placed at roughly mid-point for the average bike (so you can use more than just a front wheel U-lock).

You could also throw on a pair of big Checker Cab-style steel bumpers mounted at either end to ward off hits from parallel parkers. Of course the bumpers would promptly be covered in supposedly amusing/'hip' cyclecentric bumper stickers by week's end but that's life.

The alternative of course would be to just extend the sidewalk into the former carpark space and put a regular fenced cycle parking area there, but I'd happily settle for a smug car-themed bike rack over nothing at all (which is the usual case down here in Middle Earth).

Samuel said...

Oh, and I thought the rest of the post was hilarious. Keep it up Snob.

Anusonymous said...

Does Vito qualify as a pet?

bikesgonewild said...

...there is important news looming on the "lobster god" front...

...please be patient...

josh said...

Wow imagine what the owner looks like.

BISOUBISOU said...

That's Sun Ra's bike!!!!

leroy said...

Oh dear. I thought Vrouw Maria was a new cast member of "Jersey Shore."

Well I, for one, wish to thank BSNYC for today's public service announcement.

By reminding us of the Vrouw Maria sinking, he has done his part to ensure that we are not doomed to repeat it.

Would that I had received a similar warning about the repetitive quality of a certain fast food franchise's spicy sausage, onion and pepper sub.

Awestruck said...

Daily, I am left amazed and perplexed at the variety and complexity of "Cockie" submissions.

I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

Yeah bike messengers are some of the most self important arrogant a-holes to ride a bike.Kind of the same arrogance as roadies but with Rob Zombie fashion sense.I used to be a messenger and it was a horrible job.Talk about overated carear choice.

Anonymous said...

car-shaped bike rack = already been done

several of these have been appearing around seattle over the last few years. note solid end caps to prevent parking-by-braille..

Anonymous said...

Grande Boucle finger banger fails to beat his meat!

Urban Mobility Project said...

The Ultimate King of Cargo Biking in NYC!
Urban Mobility Project-Think Small
http://smallhaulnyc.blogspot.com/

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Fixie Bikes said...

Ginger beard looks cool.

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