Mike Morell with his dog Walter at the Cycle Messenger World Championships.
[This article also appears in Time Out Chicago magazine.]
Earlier this month hundreds of bike couriers from four continents converged on Chicago for the 20th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships, a PBR-fueled gathering of the tribes with competitions, arts events and parties celebrating the delivery lifestyle. The centerpiece of the weekend was a checkpoint race held in the vast parking lot south of Soldier Field, simulating a day of Loop courier work. Seattle’s Craig Etheridge and Josephine Reitzel from Lausanne, Switzerland were crowned the world’s fastest messengers. We caught up with Mike Morell, 35, co-founder of Four Star Courier Collective, who was the top-ranking local at 17th place out of a field of 258.
Continue reading An interview with Mike Morell, Chicago’s fastest bike messenger
[This article also appears on the environmental website Grist.org. View more photos on the Flickr group.]
Under cobalt skies last Sunday, I’m standing atop the man-made sled hill next to Chicago’s Soldier Field football stadium. To the north are the gleaming skyscrapers of the Loop business district, as well the pummeling beats of the Lollapalooza fest. To the east, ocean-like Lake Michigan is filled with bobbing sailboats. To the south, hundreds of bicycle couriers are gathered in a huge parking lot for the finals of the 20th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships, the ultimate test of two-wheeled delivery prowess.
It’s been a long, alcohol-fueled week of events celebrating the courier lifestyle, including on-street “alleycat” races, a film night, track racing and the Messenger Prom, with cyclists dolled up in cocktail dresses and pastel tuxes. Many pundits predicted that bike couriers would go the way of the Pony Express, rendered obsolete by digital technology. It’s true that email and online file sharing have cut into business since the salad days of the 1990s. But the crowd of messengers, who’ve come from as far away as Guatemala, Japan, and Australia, suggests that as cities grow more congested there may always be a place for fast, efficient, environmentally friendly bike delivery.
Continue reading Delivering the goods: Chicago hosts a global bike messenger rally
Nico Deportago-Cabrera and Christina Peck.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]
Mayor Daley’s campaign to host the 2016 Olympics in Chicago failed, but local bike messengers are realizing their dream to bring the Olympics of two-wheeled delivery to town. As the athletic action heats up in London, this weekend hundreds of couriers from around the globe will converge in our city for the 20th Annual Cycle Messenger World Championships, with a packed schedule of races, arts events and parties celebrating their unique lifestyle.
Championships-related events have been taking place all week, with the main competitions happening all day Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10 am, in the south parking lot of Soldier Field, 18th Street and the Lakefront Trail, next to the sled hill. Other highlights include track racing at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook, a nighttime “alleycat” (messenger-style race in live traffic), a movie night with courier-themed films, an opening party featuring punk-rock legends Agent Orange and the infamous Messenger Prom. Check out the full schedule of events here.
Continue reading Message of cameraderie: the courier championships come to Chicago