Our Founder, Seb Robert, visited the other side of the world for the love of bikes. See what he got up to at the 23rd Cycle Messenger World Championships.

 

Five days. Five days in which there was so much to take in that I’m not quite sure where to start. 


First of all; I wasn’t even sure whether I was going to go a week before the Championships. There’s so much to do there that it didn’t seem right to leave the team and travel halfway round the world without some sort of plan. At the last minute we all thought ‘fuck it, at the very least we’ll meet some people’. Prescient. 

 

Second of all; I’d never even been to Australia before, never mind Melbourne. The expense of travelling all the way there for effectively 5 days of hanging out without taking in any other sights seemed a bit excessive. This also proved true. Although only in that the word ’excessive’ sums up the 5 days I was there pretty well. 

 

Thirdly; I had no idea what to expect. We’d been in private beta for about 5 weeks up to that point. We’re so new, no one knows who we are, what we’re trying to achieve, or how we’re trying to achieve it. You don’t have to look very far to know that from its very inception, the CMWC’s relationship with commercial/marketing types has been uneasy. Understandable.

 

Understandable because a CMWC has taken place every year over a period of 23 years. It’s taken place in cities all over the world, with 300-800 participants and their bikes. A series of events take place over an entire week and are organised by a handful of volunteers who have a level of dedication unmatched by seasoned pros. That said; I haven’t been to any of the other CMWC’s. But, considering there’s been 23 of them and they’ve all been organised completely independently of any ‘professional’ organisations, I think it’s pretty safe to draw some solid conclusions. Here was some of my favourite stuff from the weekend:  

 

Beer athletics

Friday at the Brunswick Velodrome still stands out as my favourite day of the entire weekend. The sun was blazing, the competition fierce, and the track set-up. Everyone was in the same place and could see all the riders at the same time. All these elements came together to produce moments of outstanding comedy. 

 

Highlights 

 

A French dude (Clement) in full Olympic track gear lapping the track, back-to-front before going around again on a furry pink child’s bike. 

 

The commentator on the megaphone coming out with multiple zingers throughout the day. To the last few contenders to cross the finish line in a 14 lap race; ‘only three laps left guys, keep it going’. He also tortured all the participants in the Trackstand to a sprint race while they waited for the starting pistol. It started with around 30 riders, and ended up with 6. 

 

The most brutal display of athleticism I saw all day was in the Cyclocross race. A guy barrelled around the track at full speed whilst hammering a beer hand-off with such force. I still have no idea how he managed to come away with it so cleanly. It was like watching 2 people running towards each other at speed with a mid-air high five that could result in a lost arm. Only, involving a bike and a can of beer. Glorious.

 

A beer hand-off about to take place. Not ‘the one’.

 

#bikporn

If you like bicycles – real, working ones – you won’t find a better place to be. Some were truly stunning; all were workhorses. At the risk of sounding a bit naive, the one thing that surprised me was the amount of bikes that had gears, or weren’t even racing/road bikes. I was expecting some sort of unwritten rule around only having fixies or something. I dunno… 

Facial Hair

I’m 33. After about a week of growth I can just about muster up enough of this stuff to resemble a 13 year old who wants to let everyone know he’s hitting puberty. Needless to say, I felt a little out of place. I can imagine Hell’s Angels arriving and thinking ‘fucking hell, there’s a lot of beards here’. 

There was a good moment where I met a girl looking for a friend there. The only way she could describe him was that he had a beard. We burst out laughing upon the realisation that this didn’t really narrow the field much. In fairness; long beards look fantastic when travelling at speed.  

Party, party, party

This one explains itself. Apart from the parties taking place during the races, they were on every night. We met loads of people at the Thursday night dinner who we kept bumping into for the rest of the weekend. Saturday night was also great. Not because we sponsored it. Mainly because the tunes were great and they ran the Trackstand and Trick Comps on the Dancefloor. People should do this at nightclubs up and down the country; it should be the new foam party or something.

 

Clement on his way to winning the Trackstand.

 

Sunday night was all about the prize-giving, but I’d been partying for 4 days and was dead on my feet. I found a spot on a bench and got chatting to a local Melbourne guy called Nick, who retired from couriering in ’01. He hadn’t raced in over 10 years but because the CMWCs were in his backyard, he decided to enter. It never leaves you I guess. 

When I got back, I checked to see where Nick placed. He finished 13th overall, which given he hadn’t been couriering in 14 years is frankly fucking outrageous. He finished right behind London’s best-placed rider Jordan (Lost) who’s the fastest guy in this city and had been sitting right next to Nick and I as we were chatting. Delighted for both of them.

 

Start of Sunday’s main race.

 

So what did I learn? Next time I’ll pack a bike. Even if you don’t race there’s loads more stuff to do, and you can be a lot more useful to the organisers who always need volunteers. Also, if you love cycling, get down to the next international race event. I met a few guys, and a girl, who weren’t couriers but took part just for the laugh and were warmly welcomed. 

You’ll have an amazing time, and will meet some great people. Speaking of which; thanks to the Melbourne contingent who took care of us: Sara, Ilana, Alan, Lachie, Kit, and Indigo. Other special mentions go to Josh, Yoshi, Nico, Leeana, Jake, Nick, Clement, Joel, and Leah and Mario who I only just met before I left on Monday and were bang on. There are loads of others whose names I didn’t get or simply forgot, most likely due to inebriation. 

Also, thanks to my mates Johnny and Pip for putting me up for five days and for choosing to live in a spot that happened to be right next to most of the CMWC action. Total touch. Hope to see you at the next meet up, or the one after that. 

 

If I missed anyone or you’ve got any edits please write to me or comment below. For more pics and seriously nice videos of the event, head over to Jambi Jambi.