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Courier business is slowing, but bike champ is gearing up

Boston Globe, June 13, 2004
By Joe Berkeley

The fastest bicycle courier on earth is making ends meet by working behind the bar at Pho Republique in the South End. ''Right now, couriering just pays for bikes," says Adam Ford, who is training to hold onto his title at the Cycle Messenger World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, July 1-5.

Last year, Ford won the sprint, a test of raw speed, in Seattle. But even he can't do much to increase the pace of people spending money. According to Ford, the courier business in Boston is suffering.

After a winter of messenger work during which courier #244 was not struck by an SUV, a taxi, or a truck, Ford was blindsided by bronchitis. He took six weeks to recover.

Yet despite the setback, Ford is ''guardedly optimistic" that his training is on schedule to deliver him to the top of the podium at the Worlds.

Every elite cyclist has a standard by which they measure their fitness. Ford's is a wall of a hill called Oakland Avenue in Arlington that arrives at mile 65 of his 75-mile training ride.

If he can keep his speed over 10 miles an hour on that hill, after riding the previous 65 miles at top speed, he knows he is fit. According to that test, Ford is in form.

Regarding that other July bicycle race, the Tour de France, Ford says Lance Armstrong will be the man to beat.


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