The Cycle Messenger World Championships 2008 was the longest weekend of
my life - almost 2 years. It was a
roller coaster ride of hope and optimism that caused me to witness some
of the most inspiring and some of the most disappointing behavior
during my life in the messenger community.
But now that it's over I can't help but think about the best and worst
of CMWC. The best part of CMWC is always the people. Messengers from
all over the planet carry the party from country to country every year
inspiring more of the same to join the trek. People like
Switzerland's Luk Keller and Porno Steve whose positive attitudes and
infectious smiles spread not only throughout CMWC but around the world
too. It's no wonder they both seem to look younger every time I see
them. And people like Martin Banan who showed up three months
early to help, just in time.
But for everything that has a best there's also a worst and CMWC is no
The worst part of CMWC is that because there is so much to do, there is
so much to miss. A full slate of official events was scheduled on the
Toronto islands complemented by many creative unofficial events on the
mainland. Some of the people I wanted to see the most, I never
saw at all. Two of the most anticipated events for me were Nadir's
birthday party for Steve and Navid's Goldsprints and backyard BBQ bash.
Nadir and Navid each throw legendary events and parties, not just in
Toronto but internationally too. Now their events were back to back.
After spending all day Thursday on the island helping to set up for
polo, I got what I think was the worst sunburn of my life. For the rest
of the weekend I'm sure I was described as the guy with the raccoon
eyes and the bloodied nose. I missed Steve's birthday entirely
and it only made it worse when I listened to tales the next day of how
Steve's party ended up at the old school messenger party on Temperance
Street for spontaneous sprints in the wee hours of the morning.
Navid's back yard BBQ party was so big, he rented 3 portable toilets.
It had its own stage and video screen with 4 Goldsprints bikes and a
crew of volunteers. It lasted 2 days or more. Even though I probably
missed the best part of it, it was an awe inspiring event. Somehow
Navid also found time, with the help of others to publish an
"Unofficial Guide to CMWC Toronto" and help organize an art show and
That's part of what makes CMWC so special - the willingness of
committed people in the community, like Nadir and Navid to spend their
own money and their own labour so that their returning friends and
friends they have yet to meet will be assured of a memorable CMWC. They
each delivered that and more.
One of the toughest and most stressful jobs during CMWC must be
housing. There is no way to know how many people will show up and how
many will need space until most of them arrive. Shane Murphy did an
outstanding job finding places for everyone on short notice even though
he just started a new Courier Co-op weeks before. And he still found
time to come over to the island days before to move some of the
heaviest stuff around.
One of the reasons I missed some people is that I spent most of my time
at the bike polo courts. Although bike polo was first introduced to the
championships in Seattle in 2003, CMWC 2008 was the first attempt at
holding a proper international bike polo tournament as part of the
event. It was a huge challenge, probably too big for a city like
Toronto that was just learning about bike polo.
Fortunately for Toronto we're not too far away from Ottawa, one of the
world's bike polo Meccas. Brian Whitmore of Ottawa's Mallets of Mayhem
went above and beyond what anyone could reasonably expect. At great
expense to him Brian made many trips to our city, taught Toronto about
bike polo and organized the first world tournament with minimal local
help, support or sponsors. In fact, Brian brought his own crew from
Ottawa a week early to do most of the volunteer work for the
tournament. There is probably no one else in the world that could have
pulled it off under the circumstances he confronted. And Brian's
participation was virtually the only reason the bike polo players came
I have new found respect for the bike polo community. It's probably
already too big and too popular for CMWC to handle properly. The
players pulled together and adapted quickly to all the challenges the
tournament faced. From a lack of necessary materials and supplies to a
lack of time. They still shut down the tournament for more than 5 hours
to accommodate the main race and they played at incredibly high skill
levels through the sideways rain, the lightning, and the wind and
CMWC 2008 was my tenth championships (world and continental). All of
them have been memorable and wonderful. This was supposed to be my last
one but I can't help thinking about perhaps once in a lifetime chances
to see CMWC in Japan in 2009 and Guatemala in 2010.