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Nerves of Steel
Get the definitive book on bike messengers - "Nerves of Steel"

Don't shoot the messengers - they're just racing

The Hudson Reporter, June 19, 2005
By: Ricardo Kaulessar

It's not uncommon to see people racing on bikes in Jersey City, either for a thrill or because the bike was stolen and the suspect is trying to outrun police.

But seeing several hundred on one day in a several block area of Downtown Jersey City - now that's an event.

In fact, the 13th Annual Cycle Messenger World Championships (CWMC) will take place in Jersey City and throughout the five boroughs of New York City from June 30 to July 4.

And the event's main race will be held on a course that starts and ends on Hudson Street in Jersey City on Sunday, July 3.

How did the race end up in Jersey City, and what exactly is a bike messenger championship?

On Saturday, July 2 and Sunday July 3, there will be two days of qualifying competitions for the main race, to be held Sunday. There will also be individual competitions such as sprinting, skidding, curb jumping and hopping on the bike. This will test the skills that messengers have acquired in their work.

On Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the main race will be held over a several block radius near the Jersey City waterfront, with the start and end point on Hudson Street. The race itself will be held on a course of intersecting, one-way lanes where messengers will pick up and deliver packages at nine different checkpoints on the course.

Jack Blackfelt, media coordinator for the CMWC, said that scouts have checked the area where the main race will take place in advance to see if the conditions are conducive to the race.

"We wanted to find a place that had a little bit of chewed road," said Blackfelt.

That would describe very well sections of Downtown Jersey City that have been in dire need of paving.

The winner of the race will receive cash and bicycle prizes and tickets to next year's event.

After the race, there will be a group ride from Jersey City north to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.

The ride will then continue across the bridge to Riverside Park on 105th Street in Manhattan for a film night with a bike theme.

The 13th Annual Cycle Messenger World Championships was created to acknowledge the work of bike messengers throughout the world. In past years, the championships have been in New York City, Calgary and Berlin. This year's championships are being organized by the New York Bike Messengers Foundation.

This year, many events will take place on both sides of the Hudson River, with Jersey City being utilized as a venue for the first time. The events usually average several hundred to over a thousand participants, coming from as far as Zimbabwe.

Blackfelt said that New York City was considered the primary location for the main race, but it was not a done deal.

"It took several months to negotiate with New York City, and as the organizers saw that the location wasn't confirmed as we got closer to the championship date, we had to look to other venues," said Jack Blackfelt.

Blackfelt said that it was the suggestion of a bike messenger living in New Jersey that led to Jersey City being considered.

"We met with city officials and the police department here in Jersey City about holding the race here," said Blackfelt. "It has a wonderful view of Manhattan and it's a close trip to New York City for other activities that is being organized around the championships."

As this article was going to press, all permits needed to hold the race were received from the city.

For more information on the Cycle Messenger World Championships, check out www.nybma.com/cmwc2005.


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