A bicycle messenger from Bremen, Germany outpaced 48 competitors from 15 countries Sunday to win the title of world's fastest courier.
Lars Urban, 31, took the honors after a grueling three-hour race in which riders delivered 17 parcels to seven check points in the third annual Cycle Messenger World Championships in Toronto.
Competition organizers said the race, which took place in a barricaded section of the city's warehouse district, was not completely impartial.
"We have made no attempt to make this race fair," bellowed an organizer as the race got underway. "The rules of the road apply."
As the competitors put it, there are no rules. The key is to deliver the package intact as soon as humanly possible.
"It's deliver or die," D.C. Steve, a race organizer, said.
On Saturday night, the riders put on several exhibitions, including jumping up onto cars with their bikes and performing skids.
Other races included an unofficial nude race and a cargo haul where competitors towed kegs of beer in specially designed carts and bikes.
Steve said the courier scene in Washington, D.C. where he works is very competitive with over 700 courier companies dispatching messengers throughout the city. An experienced messenger there can earn between $600 and $900 in a 55-hour work week.
"We can get in and out of places no one else can," Steve said. "Cities would come to a halt if it wasn't for couriers. The urban arena is our office."
Although the European competitors wore team uniforms, the North American riders, showing the independence associated with their job, wore what they always wear.
"We wear whatever is in our basement," Steve said. "We wear what we want, we work when we want because we're independent contractors."
Achim Beier, who organized the first Cycle Messenger race in his hometown of Berlin in 1993, said couriers in Europe are more respected than in North America.
"The image of a cycle messenger is high in Europe," he said. "We are seen as spirited, environmental, helpful, sexy and athletic. In Canada and America, they are taken as burdens, [and] their image is poor."
For the second year in a row, the top female competitor was Ivonne Kraft of Karlsruhe, Germany.
Major Taylor News Service