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The quickest rider
16.08.06 by Buffalo Bill

There’s been a lot of talk over the past year, mostly by my sometime friend Tofu, regarding the identity of London’s quickest bicycle messenger. Most men like to boast, and cycle couriers are no different. But how do you determine the quickest London messenger?

Tofu at CMWC 2005 - Knarf

Tofu says that because he was the best placed London messenger at the last Cycle Messenger World Championships, held in New York in 2005, he is therefore officially the fastest London messenger until CMWC 2006, which is being held in Sydney later on this year.

is this London's quickest messenger?

Winston, organiser of the annual London cycle courier track event, Speed, Skill and Sausages, sees it somewhat differently. He says ‘if he was london’s fastest messenger he would have won the competition set up to determine London’s fastest messenger n’est ce pas?’ Winston is referring to the time-trial, a solo against the clock effort, contested during SSSII, which Skot won. But what does riding a bike as fast as you can for 30 seconds have to do with being a quick messenger?

or is it him? Donne wins another alleycat - pic: Elisabeth Blanchet

Still other people would say that Donny is the undisputed fastest because he has won more Alleycats (illegal street races organised by messengers and mostly contested by messengers) more often over the past few years. Any measurement of a messenger’s speed must include negotiation of live traffic, and a test of route-finding, and only in an Alleycat can you assess these skills head to head. But a sufficiently strong and skilled bike rider, with good nerves, can simply follow someone quick who knows where they are going and then sprint for the win.

or is it him?

Charlie 9 John, of Addison Lee, would say that it’s obvious that London’s best messenger is him. Jon bases this assertion on the fact that, according to him, he consistently earns more money riding a bike than any other London bicycle messenger. And earnings are what counts.

I am not sure who I think is the quickest London bicycle messenger. When you control messengers, you get an entirely different perspective on who is quick and who is not. I am always surprised by how slow the guys who ride fast are. The wild riders are often bad messengers. Taking every risk going is not necessarily going to get the parcel to its destination quicker.

To be a good messenger, you have to do the whole thing quick: respond to your controller quickly, understand the information, identify the pick-up point in your mind, move to it straight away, lock the bike, find the parcel, unlock the bike, communicate that you have the parcel on and see if there are any other pick-ups the controller wants you to do, fit the new journey in around your existing journeys (if you have any) and move towards the destination using the quickest route possible, all the time taking care to avoid harm. You can’t deliver anything if you are lying in the hospital waiting to be stitched up, splinted or operated on.

The quickest messenger I have ever known is a guy called 13. I can’t remember what his real name was. He was unbelievably quick. He never hung out, never spoke to anyone and just got on with it. He cut through traffic in straight lines. But there were lots of riders on our channel that could do that stuff. It took me a while to work out what made him so much quicker than everyone else. What gave him an edge was that he never used to lock his bike. Alway brought it into the building.

Byron Bramble was pretty quick as well, and he was the first guy at SD to do 50 dockets in a day, so he deserves a mention. But Byron false called. Never got caught out, but I have to mark him down for that.

I am going to restrict my consideration of the quickest to the guys that raced messenger races as well as doing big money at work. Skot has never done big money at work, he never answers his bloody radio, and he just doesn’t give enough of a f&ck. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But he’s out of the running.

Stringer was pretty quick as a messenger, and he was a decent messenger racer too. But he’s too wierd.

or him? miserable bloody Swede

As a controller, I can only talk about the riders that I have controlled, and though Wee Scott is pretty quick and has won an alleycat, he’s not the quickest guy at Creative. Jakob is. But Jakob could care less about competing in messenger races. Miserable bloody Swede.

or could it be him? Josh in action at ECMC 2005

Andy Capp would definitely be in my top five, so would Wingnut, as would Tofu, even if I wish he could lay off the sarcasm for more than five minutes. Oh yeah, there’s another key messenger skill. Don’t get smart with your controller, remember the controller does the joking and you do the laughing. Just say ‘roger’ and get on with it. Neil ‘Nelly’ Webb would be too, but he fell off too much. So I would probably go for Josh over Nelly. Josh is really really quick. But he gets mashed too often and I have never forgiven him for not winning ECMC 2003 cos he forgot to tighten his cassette. I am a harsh man.

Overall I guess I would have to vote Elliott the quickest. He won a ton of Alleycats, including the biggest to date ‘Twisted on Fixed’, he could cut straight lines through traffic, he was always top earner, both at Creative and then at Metro, and he could win proper bicycle races, too. And he always gives me a good price on his parmesan. Yes, it’s true, Elliott now sells Parmesan.

I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, though. Least of all Tofu.

  1. What about Ray Eden, definitely the quickest courier in the world ever, over 100 miles!!
    And Don Wiley, definitely the fastest courier I’ve ever known, just never felt the need to prove it to other couriers?!


    Winston    17 August 2006, 07:33    #
  2. “remember the controller does the joking and you do the laughing.”

    jesus christ bill.


    — Kate    17 August 2006, 07:48    #
  3. hrmm.. I would say the donny, wingnut, an josh era for races won actually being able to ride a bike for more than 10mins :p


    K    17 August 2006, 07:56    #
  4. we all know “controller perception” is very often a long way from fact!

    There’s one guy out there faster than all of us, he never speaks to to other couriers, I only spoke to him once to invite him to track day, “not interested mate, I’ve got kids to spend my time with” was his answer. I don’t even know who he works for, but he’d piss over all of us, just one look at his physique would confirm it, during my racing years the only guy I had trouble keeping up with on circuit, rides bloody fast and bloody hard, all day, stopping for nothing.

    BUT he doesn’t go down the pub or blow his own trumpet so I guess he’s excluded from this discussion right?


    Winston    17 August 2006, 08:11    #
  5. Not jesus christ, just Bill


    — Bill    17 August 2006, 08:12    #
  6. I’ve got the most gears, brakes and computers, does that count?

    Oh yeah, can you all leave some abuse here: IT eejit


    _targetbot    17 August 2006, 09:10    #
  7. What about dave”very fast”smith?Then what about who”the f**k”cares!


    — overdrive    17 August 2006, 10:48    #
  8. you do overdive, otherwise why log on to MT, read the story, or take time to make a comment?


    — slowcoach    17 August 2006, 11:23    #
  9. hello Bill.


    — overdrive    17 August 2006, 12:59    #
  10. wha’bout barnesy – he was officially the fastest about 10 years ago. That would make it a metro 1-2 (gears and brakes) podium.


    — 27    17 August 2006, 13:35    #
  11. This can all be settled tomorrow night at the ‘Meat Farmer Joe’ Alletcat’! Kicks off ‘bout 8.30 at the Puke of Dork!


    — Walshy    17 August 2006, 13:52    #
  12. jason”hawai 5-0” deserves to be in the running, he was leading elliot in the 2nd alley cat series until the last race which he inexplicably didn’t bother to attend.Was the last uk rider in the Toronto champs until his frame broke after(from what i heard)repeatedly getting a couple of feet of air on a table top ramp that was part of the course on a fixed wheel.Try that instead of balancing with no hands(yawn),and was also another helicopter pilot at creative!But i have to put in another way to be the fastest courier,i’ve done 48mph at work(albeit hanging of the back of a lorry)anyone gone faster?


    — barnsey    17 August 2006, 14:12    #
  13. Elliot was not the top earner at Metro in his time there. That accolade went to two other people. The mighty Jon Chang & as often as not me. I know I was the controller for a lot the time, and I fed myself.


    — Kaspar von Metrokontrollar    17 August 2006, 14:36    #
  14. suggest you all shut up and race. catchya tmrw nite.


    — fin    17 August 2006, 15:11    #
  15. ^ slow. FEAR ME.


    — llyod flandis    17 August 2006, 17:13    #
  16. i’m dead and could skin the lot of you.


    — pantani    17 August 2006, 17:18    #
  17. Bill’s in the mood for an argument then. I’m with Kate on the “remember the controller does the joking and you do the laughing” front. Office monkey :-) And what about marks for personality and dress sense?


    — 155    17 August 2006, 17:52    #
  18. What’s the difference between God and a controller?

    God doesn’t think s/he’s a controller.


    — Bill    17 August 2006, 18:06    #
  19. How many bicycle messengers does it take to change a light bulb?

    F&ck off, I’m not going up there!


    — Bill    17 August 2006, 18:08    #
  20. Edit this (as I know you will) you self obsessed, introverted, idiotic, slow, pushbike riding, useless f&cker.


    — caspar    18 August 2006, 00:12    #
  21. Donny is the undisputed fastest and fattest fucking courier in London and you all know it…..give the man his props.
    LF


    — loz    18 August 2006, 09:50    #
  22. “suggest you all shut up and race”.......Well said….

    It’s not a biggest mouth comp, so see you all at Track Day where reputions will be earned, (then lost next week down the pub when someone else can shout loudest..and people believe them?)

    will Metro field a rider this year?


    winston    18 August 2006, 10:32    #
  23. That’s a great article, Buffalo Bill. I reckon Alleycat is the true courier test. Donny has the best record in Alleycats so he is definitely the quickest and the best.


    — Steve    18 August 2006, 10:57    #
  24. I reckon K, loz, and Steve have got it right – Donny is definitely the fastest. Charlie 9 John is full of sh*t – he probably makes his money giving executive relief.


    — br666    18 August 2006, 11:25    #
  25. DESTROY.


    — Lloyd 'metro' Flandis    18 August 2006, 11:46    #
  26. Bill, could you please mention my name on your fantastic website.


    — al@creative    18 August 2006, 12:45    #
  27. No


    — Bill    18 August 2006, 12:46    #
  28. Remember once I did 20 dockets in a day wasn’t that good?


    — al@creative    18 August 2006, 13:01    #
  29. Yeah, a mention for big K is deserved I reckon. But he’s not interested in talkin’ the talk down the pub. Does that disqualify him from the willy-waving contest?


    — 155    18 August 2006, 13:33    #
  30. Donny’s stats:
    12 x races
    10 x wins
    1 x did not finish


    — Walshy    18 August 2006, 16:29    #
  31. Great topic Bill, you’ve open a whole can of worms.

    That’s why I believe that an Alleycat is maybe only true way of
    Testing the rider and putting them through all the elements of messaging.

    Take the likes of Marco. A guy who rides technically hard during office hours and also will ride an Alleycat as if his life was depending on it. The guy cut his holidays short in Italy to race Friday nights Alleycat, which was postponed. Is there any other way to decide who is London complete (best & quickest) cycle messaging? The only true way is The Alleycat!


    — farmer Joe    19 August 2006, 02:47    #
  32. The fastest is Donny. Simple. The fact that he’s a dingo must be a hard pill for you lot swallow!


    — Mojo    19 August 2006, 04:23    #
  33. Donny, where’s my barbecue gone?


    — _targetbot    19 August 2006, 17:09    #
  34. A guy called “Donny” shows in the results of the first track day, is it the same guy? he came 22nd by the way…a full seven seconds slower than Skot’s winning time last year, an absolutely huge margin over such a short distance even tofu was only beaten by 3.5 secs.


    Winston    19 August 2006, 18:46    #
  35. Yes, riding fast round a track is only a test of …riding fast round a track.


    — Marty Nothstein    20 August 2006, 09:28    #
  36. How come nobody’s mentioned Ed89, he beat Barnsey & The King at Barca CMWC and won a couple of alleycats, one by over 5 minutes!!!


    — Um... Ed89    20 August 2006, 19:41    #
  37. Dunno, how come no-one’s mentioned Ed 89?


    — Bill    20 August 2006, 22:28    #
  38. I’m broken hearted Bill. No a single mention of me. Donny is a quickest and fattest WITH brakes for sure. Kiwi Bobby the hardest over the distance, and me the best lookin. Agreed? Who is this Tofu-vegan mincer anyway? Does coming 2nd twice (think Jan Ullrich) in Monstertrack NYC count? Or back to back Cranksgiving NYC wins? Undefeated in Canadian alleycats? Oh yeah, this was a London’s best. Love you all. Trackcunt


    Track Cunt    21 August 2006, 05:02    #
  39. Ok, ok, ok. You’re all as quick as each other. Everyone is the fastest, strongest, bravest, sexiest, smartest and has the biggest balls.


    — Bill    21 August 2006, 06:26    #
  40. “Undefeated in Canadian alleycats?”

    -Doesn’t count if you organized them!


    — Jeff    22 August 2006, 06:02    #
  41. i’m the fastest. i make £250 a week sometimes, and i don’t even have a bike. i have a “rotary”
    beat that


    porno mike    23 August 2006, 15:49    #
  42. and also link the word “earnings” to one of your online dictionaries.
    cause we like dont like noe err wot woz i gettin at? weres de spanner?


    porno mike    23 August 2006, 17:37    #
  43. Put the beer down now, Mike, and step away from the bar.


    — Bill    23 August 2006, 21:11    #
  44. Hi Guys,
    Why don’t you try 4km pursuit?
    Overall this is the hardest things to beat if you are looking for fastest guy.
    The other thing to do is proper endurance race wit at least 35 laps and sprints every 5 laps.
    Put some money on each sprint and you will se the true colours of all of us.

    Fatigue starts to build up after some time in your body and actually then you can see who have a real ability to recover.
    Other thing is that there is not warming up and most of the competitors(couriers) are just riding with cold muscles.
    Anyway 35 laps or 45 laps will be a really hard to beat as a test.


    — papa2    10 September 2006, 12:26    #
  45. we would do a pursuit but with 45 riders it would take the whole of the meeting to get through the heats!!

    We will be having a 10k mass start race out to assess all the endurance couriers out there..

    London Courier Track Day: "www.addicts.tv":http://www.addicts.tv


    Winston    10 September 2006, 18:32    #
  46. I am the fastest. I am a robot and made of steel. I am the terminator.


    — Zack Speedfast    8 June 2007, 22:10    #
  47. what about that guy who never done any alley cats but raced loads up eastway an that and was a top bloke….gone but not forgotton, fucking fast.


    — rod face    22 May 2008, 11:28    #
  48. Which guy? Damien? Ray? Captain Spandex?


    — Bill    22 May 2008, 13:00    #
  49. Winston?


    — Jos    22 May 2008, 14:11    #
  50. Joe Fletcha?
    (I wasn’t trying to just put my name above, Joe disappeared for some reason)


    — josh    22 May 2008, 18:21    #
  51. Joe was fast….


    Winston    23 May 2008, 00:03    #
  52. I miss london and being a courier. best 7 years job I ever had


    — joe    23 May 2008, 12:42    #
  53. Joe was/is quick. Who remembers him and Seun and their dead heat in the 2002 roller race? What an epic that was.


    — Bill    23 May 2008, 13:19    #
  54. any pics of that night?
    fletchjoe@hotmail.co.uk


    — joe    25 May 2008, 11:57    #
  55. i made a little film of that night inluding neils infamous crash on the rollers. I lost the hard copy but i think therese has a copy somewhere. Therese if you read this could you possibly send it to me or movingtargetzine as a file??


    — zack speedfast    25 May 2008, 15:19    #
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