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CMWC 2008 review
18.06.08 by Buffalo Bill

I have loaded a bunch of photos to the CMWC 2008 Flickr pool, and I hope to see some more from others. In a way, the pictures will give a better impression of the event than I could, but I just want to add a few random thoughts to what I have already said.

First, it was a great event, and everyone I spoke to had nothing but praise for it and the organisers and the welcome that they extended us.

The site of the event
I can remember when there used to be a big noise about having down-town courses, and how it was essential for a messenger champs to use the same streets for the race that they use for work. I can remember that we got some stick in 1994 for using a site on Royal Victoria Docks, which is a long way from anywhere you would normally find a London cycle courier. But the truth is that street courses are a major head-ache.

To get a large enough area of city closed so that you can have a decent sized course is simply a waste of considerable effort, and usually involves spending substantial amounts of money too. Using Toronto Island was a fantastic idea. The location was beautiful, and there was plenty of room to do everything that we needed to do.

manifests for the final

Main Race Format
The format of the race was a proper test of messenger skills, routing, memory, organisation of parcels and equipment. I believe that the concept was one that was originally developed by Fish, for the 2001 European Cycle Messenger Champs in Rotterdam. I didn’t go to that race, but I reckon that it is dead on.

the punch card system used for qualification

The only way in which the organisation of the race could have been improved was if there had been the chip system that has been utilised before. The time cards were way more reliable than hand-timing and recording rider’s numbers before they cross the line, but the chips have the edge, because they produce easily manipulated results instantly. Emory and her crew were up til 3am on Sunday collating the qualification results by hand. This was a major pain in the arse.

Race Captain Snoopy reckons that the eventual winner, Shinzu, was out for at least 3 hours. Given that the rain was coming down hard at some points, and the winds were gusting to 100km/h (recorded by meteorological equipment at TO city airport which is a few hundred metres from where the race was), there can be no question at all that the winners were tough.

the cargo race

I was delighted to see the cargo race reinstated into the event. I said before that cargo bikes are the future, and that was why we originally included a cargo race in the 1994 champs. I think that the cargo bike race should be an obligatory event at every messenger champs.

There were a ton of people that came up to TO for the polo. Most did not race the main event, and that may be the explanation for the relatively (240+) low number of competitors in the main race. I missed the polo events entirely, so I have absolutely no idea what happened, not even the name of the team that won. My apologies to them, and to all the readers that have asked about the polo. I think having polo is a great idea, and one that should be pursued by future messenger champs organisers. (You can find a report on the CMWC polo over Hard Court Bike Polo)

There’s 2 or 3 big polo tournaments coming up in London over the summer and autumn. I’ll have to make amends for my omissions by giving them maximum possible coverage. And Moving Target will sponsor London messenger teams for all 3.

whoops! another bike ends up in the water

2008 compared to 1995
Because 1995 was the third CMWC, and still had such novelty, it will always have a special place in my heart. But there is no question that 2008 was superior in every possible respect. 1995 was an unmitigated financial disaster, an organisational fiasco and left me wondering whether the CMWC had a future. Which is not to say I did not have a great time in 1995 – I had the time of my life. However, CMWC XVI was a credit to the messenger community of Toronto.

2009 Tokyo
This will be the first Worlds to be held in Asia. This will make it special, and us Euros and Americans will finally discover what it is like to be at a Champs if you can’t even read the street signs properly. However, with 80% of the airlines likely to go out of business soon, and the remainder likely to hike their prices to levels not seen since the 60s, I wonder how many of us will be able to afford to go. One solution could be to charter some carriages on the Trans-Siberian Express, as was suggested by someone I was speaking to. Whether I go or not, I am sure that it will be a great event, and I wish the organisers the best of luck.

I just want to close with some of the things that people said to me during the week that made me laugh:

Bill! I didn’t recognise you: you look handsome! Gee, thanks, Haley.

You can sleep when you’re dead! If I don’t get some sleep now, I will be dead. Thanks to Peter Lord for making me feel my age!

And my favourite:

Old-school? Bill is PRE-school. Erik Zo.

CMWC Sponsor suffers erection dysfunction
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention that Red Bull’s inflatable arch suffered a puncture. It suddenly deflated like the idle boasts of a drunk messenger, in between the sprint heats. The Red Bull guys (who are jolly fine fellows, I must say) claimed that the generator was to blame, not their arch, but it did give us all good laugh at their expense. What more could you ask from a sponsor?

Other reports and blogs
Daniella N
James Willett’s epic CMWC post
House of Pistard’s Tofu photo-montage
Fabric Horse’s report
Anchorage’s fastest (and slowest) messenger on getting to CMWC 2008 first class.
Be sure to check out this nasty, nasty shiner inflicted during the bike polo at MadBikePolo
Bike Blog.
Pics and more from Doug at Hard Court Bike Polo
Joe Hendry’s pics and report of the Bike Polo
Vancouver at CMWC 2008
Dublin Messengers on CMWC 2008
Leslie of 1lesscar’s review

  1. Hey I’ve got a bunch of pics, a few of which are not too bad. Videos coming shortly.


    I love to see people who capture the event as a whole picture wise, and I think you’ve done that quite well. Lets create a CMWC XVI picture pool!

    nicholish    18 June 2008, 18:21    #
  2. The Flickr pool (called CMWC 2008) is here

    — Bill    18 June 2008, 18:39    #
  3. PRE-SCHOOL? That’s my line! Seriously…

    — zero cc    18 June 2008, 22:13    #
  4. skids, footdown, texas twins???
    Australia is part of Asia.

    — safa brian    18 June 2008, 23:02    #
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