The bikes and riders of the Cycle Messenger World Championships
The toughest riders from all over the globe came together with their unique rides to test their mettle in games of speed and fortitude in New York traffic.
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The Cycle Messenger World Championships were held in NYC last month — multiple days of races and challenges combined the North American Cycle Courier Championships and Cycle Courier Worlds.
The toughest working riders from all over the globe came together with their unique rides to test their mettle in games of speed and fortitude in New York traffic. Alleycats (which come in a few styles but in all of which riders are tasked with riding as fast as possible on open streets) aren’t featured on GCN; there are sponsored riders, shop owners, and industry sponsors themselves among the competitors, but mostly it’s messengers and commuters taking part in playing bikes for fun, prizes, and pride.
And while fixed gear bikes are often preferred in this discipline, there are no stipulations on what kind of bike entrants can ride through the multiple checkpoints required to win. In any case, riders are unsupported on their routes — if they catch a flat, there is no team car to give them a new wheel. Their bikes are working tools, street machines designed to dodge traffic in a way most riders wouldn’t dare do with their S-Works or Pinarello.
The Cycle Messenger World Championship 2022 winner was a modest man from Japan, Chikappa, who described his bike as “just a Felt.”
It is in fact, more than a “just” a Felt — an 11-speed 53×11 mechanical Ultegra group is a rare sight at an alleycat. Naked Giant drops with inwardly angled hoods and Profile aerobars are even less common. This is the kind of street machine we might look askance at in a group ride, but this masterful messenger used it to weave through aggressive drivers and other riders on the streets of the open course.
Patty Do, aka Unisexcycle, from San Jose, California, brought what they called their “bar bike,” a steel KHS fix running 44×17 featuring custom floral Velocity rims and gold spray painted cranks.
The idea of the mess mode is to SAVE money, not spend it — the rims AND the frame bag were fantastic deals at $30 each. The front basket, (quoted at “20, 30 dollars”) was also clutch in a line of work that has been called “The Carry Shit Olympics.” Patty Do podiumed in cost-effectiveness and style.
Julian from Spain was the first messenger I spoke to and he killed it at the skid competition. He rode a size 57 Cannondale track frame with a CAAD12 fork, running Sugino 75s with 52×17 gearing and Deda Zero bars, classic Time Atac pedals, H Plus Son rims laced to Dura-Ace hubs, and Thomson post and stem. A subtle top-shelf rig.
Brittany O’Neal is a national championship-winning racer for Pink Rhino. Based in NYC by way of Ohio, she has earned her stripes on velodromes and streets across the country.
Sponsored by Weis Mfg, she took her Weis track with the new custom blow torch paint job and matching Zipp stem to the podium. It is her favorite of seven bikes in her arsenal. The carbon rims are laced to Raketa custom hubs. For the race she ran 28c tubeless tires to survive the pothole and glass strewn streets, and a 49×16 ratio with a Super Tough chain to crush the competition and see it driven before her.
This was her fourth race in two days (the CMWC was a weekend-long affair), and she took FIRST in the North American Cycle Courier Championship.
Karen Walker, aka Karen Everyday, is a New York native with a killer sense of humor who rides a vintage 1986/7 Cannondale, known henceforth as “Dale,” likely a 3.0, with downtube shifters and an upright stem to a fourth place finish, 23rd overall (out of over 60 racers). This was the day after a Friday race in which she was doored so hard she bled on the frame, and her fourth race in three days. The bike features the original pink paint with zigzag accents and original cranks.
Lilah from Minneapolis is one of the original nine members of Koochella racing, a WTF track, cross, and crit team. There are only 15 of this colorway of All-City Nature Cross in existence, designed by Saisha Harris, the creative director for QBP. The rare frame sits on Stan’s Flow rims, with a carbon post and BMX brakes, and maxes out at 44c tires for a cushy ride. It currently has 38c tubeless tires and a 39×19 gear ratio. This bike is a true piece of local racing history.
Tam Nguyen, from Toronto and working out of Montreal, showed us his 1991 Specialized Allez Epic (yes, classic carbon), built into its current form as a work bike in 2017, with 1×10 and an Oval chainring on Ultegra cranks, 42-tooth cassette and a mtb derailleur with a clutch for that wide range.
The brakes are vintage Dura-Ace, and the saddle is a well-loved Kevlar Flite titanium. A vintage Salsa quill stem with a removable face plate (a handy rarity) and some cut Easton Monkey Lite bars round out the build. Since this is a work bike, he uses a prototype front rack from a Montreal-based company called Momento. Clearly a well-thought out and high-quality build that takes advantage of the beautiful classic frame.
CMWC had one completely over the top bike that would out-fancy any dentist-mobile on the group ride, ridden by five-time track stand world champion Clement Leroy, from Dijon, France. He’s sponsored by Look and Corima, and he’s sitting on a Team Issue Track bike, the frame alone costs more than $9,000, and with the Corima rear disc and five-spoke front tubular fully built is about 14 pounds.
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He wisely refused to race it, but he did take first in the track stand competition, competed in the skid competition, and rode this full carbon weapon through Brooklyn to the bar. But even at the bar, it never left his side.
Watch him trackstand while sitting on his bars and to clamber all the way around the bike while trackstanding.
Follow MonsterTrack or your local bike messengers to see street machines in action, find out about the next wild race, and throw some funds or gear in the winner’s pot to support these fast-riding, hard-working cyclists.