Boston Globe, September 16, 2003
By Eli Sanders, Globe Correspondent
SEATTLE -- Boston bike messenger Adam Ford was one of the top finishers at the 11th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships, an Olympics-style test of courier skills held here last weekend.
Ford, 33, who works for Boston's RS Express, won the uphill sprinting competition and the "Alleycat" race, a nighttime test of speed and navigation abilities that mimics a courier's daily routine. He also placed ninth in Sunday's main race, which was held on closed-off streets just north of Seattle's downtown core.
Hundreds of couriers from around the globe had descended on Seattle for the competition.
"I don't think there was any doubt about who the fastest rider out there was," Ford said, pointing to his victories in the sprints and the Alleycat. "That would be me."
Aside from the fierce competition, the Cycle Messenger World Championships offers messengers a chance to meet colleagues from around the world and commiserate about lives spent riding the mean streets.
Ford was born and raised in Boston and has worked as a courier in the city for 10 years. He found Seattle to be a gentle city compared to Boston, which is known among the couriers as one of the toughest cities in the nation to work, because of the harsh weather and aggressive drivers. In 1999, Boston was declared to be the worst city in the world in which to messenger by the International Federation of Bike Messenger Associations.
"I can't believe how the people here drive," Ford said of the seemingly sedate Seattle commuters. "It's just amazing. They don't go too fast. I never saw people pulling illegal U-turns in the middle of the street. That kind of stuff happens every day in Boston."
And the people in Seattle, he said, "are a lot more polite. The drivers are a lot more courteous. People are a lot more law abiding. The pedestrians don't step off the curb."
With his awards of a trophy and special messenger bag in hand, Ford is headed back to Boston. The five days he spent in Seattle, he said, were his first vacation in a decade.
Today, he will be back in his bike saddle. "It is going to be a long day," Ford said. "I've got to go back to work in the morning, and at night I work in a bar. Whatever, back to the grind."
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