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 shit to do here 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 you’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 nearly 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 twenty three years, in cities all over the world, with generally 300, all the way up to 800 (Zurich in ’99) participants and their bikes, in a series of events taking place over an entire week 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. They may have been unmitigated disasters presided over by highly incompetent people, 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:
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 meant 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 childs 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’) before torturing all the participants in the Trackstand to 1 lap Sprint race with taunts while they were 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 barreling round the track at full speed and hammering a beer hand-off with such force I have still no idea how he managed to come away with it so cleanly. It was like watching two people running towards each other at speed and jumping to connect with a mid-air high five that could see either one of them lose an arm …only involving a bike …and a can of beer. Glorious.
A beer hand-off about to take place. Not ‘the one’.
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.
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 who was racing at the main event on Sunday. 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. I really enjoyed the Thursday night dinner because we met loads of people 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 four days and was dead on my feet at that stage. 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 CMWC’s 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 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. And if I missed anyone or got anything wrong please write to me or comment below.
For more pics and seriously nice videos of the event head over to Jambi Jambi