From: Two against four: the war of the wheels (Globe and Mail, Feb. 04 2006)
Craig Ross was not a success by any conventional measure: He made less than $20,000 a year, slept on friends' sofas and played in a band called Boozass. And yet on the streets of downtown Toronto, where he plied his trade as a bicycle courier, he was a ragged king, respected for his fearlessness in traffic, his dedication to the job and for riding skills so finely tuned that he could balance motionless at a red light, feet on the pedals, as he casually peeled an orange.
Until his death in 1993 of a heroin overdose (a demise that associates characterized as a tragedy in the Hendrix-Morrison tradition of artistic excess), Mr. Ross played a key role in Toronto's militant cycling community. He lived on the edge and refused to compromise. He rode 12 months a year, rain or snow, and believed that cars were for sellouts.
"I'm a bike guy," he said not long before his death. "If Jesus Christ was still around, he would be, too."
Mr. Ross's politics were shaped by experience: He had been hit by so many cars he had lost count, and had taken to wearing a pair of jeans with the posterior ripped out, so that he could deliver an unspoken message to following traffic by simply rising from his seat.
Though he's gone, his militancy lives on.
From: Bicycle Couriers in Love with Life on Mean Streets (Toronto Star, March 27, 1993)
Craig Ross, for example, has just finished
taking a ride on
the hood of a cab that T-boned him on the sidewalk near the
Ross saw it coming and absorbed the energy of the crash by leaping onto the hood, like a matador riding a bull. With his free hand he held up his bike, his money-maker
Now Ross is calmly reflecting on the morning’s excitement: “No big thing,” he says. It happens. You worry about that stuff all the time; you better do something else for a living,”
Ross is 29. He’s been a courier for six or seven years now. He wears a red pirate headband and jeans flecked with chain grease. He spends his nights playing bass in a band called Boozass. He took a hiatus from couriering a few years ago by taking a job in a dark- room. But soon be was back on the street.
“It started getting to my head,” he says “You spend all day in the dark, then you come out and it’s dark again. When you ride you’re out in the light.
“This is the life. You can be outdoors. You can be whoever you want to be. All you have to do is make the deliveries.”