Hideouswhitenoise,Issue 32, Summer 1997
by D. Chadbourne
The media image of bike messengers isn't a very pretty one. For themost part they are shown as wild road warriors who dress in funny clotheswho don't have a care in the world. They are loathed by car drivers andpedestrians and it seems everyone thinks that they should be controlledby more policing and licensing.
What the Media does not speak of and not many people know is the incrediblecommunity that exists between the Toronto Courier community as well asthe couriers in other cities around the world. What is never heard is thefact that they would go out of their way to help each others, that theyare one big family. What is never reported is that underneath the coolclothing and the fuck-you veneer is a community with a heart of gold. Butone thing that the media does get right is that messengers like to go faston their bikes and on May 24th they were able to prove it. The TorontoCourier Community and friends gathered at College Park to race againstthe Police, Ambulance, University of Toronto Police, Toronto Fire Departmentand each other to raise money for St Stephen's Community House.
St Stephen's is a street level charity who helps anyone who needs it.Their services range from helping welfare families, AIDS cases, streetpeople and on occasion bike messengers. Everyone was psyched for the eventmostly because of how much fun was had during the previous years event.And because of this, people started asking about it months in advance,what they could do, how could they help.
Last year the event was a success, but raised only $1800.00 and thisyear more was needed to be raised. So registration fees were introduced.Joe Dias, champion of the Dunhill Alley Cat race held in Toronto, cameup with the idea of selling raffle tickets to defer the cost of entry intothe race. Race fees were One hundred for a corporate team and fifty foran unsponsored team. All the couriers got into selling raffle tickets withTeam Bust, those whacky gals from CUNT magazine selling $350.00 in ticketsby themselves.
It appeared everything was going to go great. Even the Farmer's Almanacsaid the last month of May was gong to be nicer then the March weatherToronto had lived through April and most of May.
This of course changed the week coming up to the event. The weatherthe morning of Tuesday May 20th put Saturday May 24th as raining cats anddogs. That night the Captain of the Ambulance team phoned and said theywouldn't be making it, but they would be out for sure next year. Wednesdayreported there would be no cats and dogs on Saturday, just buckets of rain.That night the UofT Police team canceled because on of their members becomeill and another had blown their knee out.
Thursday came and the chance of rain had fallen to 20% and it seemeda good omen when no other teams had canceled at the last moment. Althoughno one had heard from the Fire Department and the real Police could onlymuster two teams to take on an estimated twenty-five courier teams.
Friday arrived with the news that Saturday was going to be mostly overcastand that the female trail hog team had canceled, but the One and a halfteams from Montreal had arrived in a van rented by their company.
Saturday morning arrived one of the nicest days the winter weary Torontonianshad seen in some time. By noon it was 14 degrees, for our American cousinsthat's damn warm for Canada eh, and it didn't look like it was going tostop. Maybe the event was going to work after all.
The race site was situated behind the lovely shopping and living spaceof College Park, the people nice enough to let us abuse their space. Thespot included a small city park, three parking lots, three levels of parkinggarage and one huge loading dock.
The first part of the race weaved its way through the College Park andthree parking lots before the racers had to dive into three levels of undergroundparking. Weaving around in the dark being only guided by a dim memory ofthe course and helpful race marshals, who for the most part spent the entiretime underground.
After finding their way out of the underground, the racers found themselvesled into the Mclean Hunter Loading Dock, up a steep inline and back outinto the park, where they had to race along paved walkways, down a flightof short stairs to a wading pool, can you guess how many people wiped outinto that one, around a field house and then down a steep flight of stairswhere they would tag the next person on the team, four to a team, and thenext person would go.
The Three O'Clock start time came and passed, but people didn't seemto mind. More and more teams showed up to register and then the PoliceTrail Hogs, sponsored by Jet Fuel Coffee Shoppe showed as well as a teamof Toronto Fire Department.
The Mayor Of Toronto Barbara Hall, who arrived on her bike at 4:00 p.m.to start the woman's race, found that because of the length of the BrotherKuz's book length bio, was instead starting the first race of the afternoon.
For the next three and a half hours the bios rolled out and the teamshit the course. Thrashing and crashing, becoming disoriented and lost inthe underground and then come crashing down those stairs.
The St John's Ambulance were quite surprised by the amount of wipe-outsthis year, because there had been none the year before. The team from Montrealcrashed and was basically out of the competition, but were allowed to racein a later heat if they could find someone to replace their fallen comrade.One of the ladies from Femme du Kick Ass crashed as well as Rob Melnickfrom Team Green Machine and many more, including the pile-up at the beginningof the final heat and the trail hog missing his seat and coming down onhis top tube.
The worst crash happened when Sean Van Rooyen took the steep flightof stairs on his fixed gear. He cleared the first few steps, but then hecame down hard. The sound of a body smacking into concrete reverberatedaround the square. But like a spartan warrior, stumbled to his feet anddragged his twisted frame, bike and body, to the line and tagged the nextman on his team before he collapsed to the ground in pain. The Directorof St Stephen's drove him to the hospital, but he was back in time forto watch the finals.
Beside the crashes the racers and the crowd enjoyed the day's antics.The Fire Department put in a good show, but it was the Police Fire Hogswho impressed the crowd with their racing abilities. You see, last yearthey got their asses kicked, but this year they were hot. And while notracing they were busy throwing bike thieves off the course and for thatreason alone they were allowed to advance to the finals.
As usual some of the most exciting racing came during the woman's race.This year there was an unprecedented five teams. Critical Path - Artemis,Femme du Kick-Ass, Call Girl's International, The gender bender team ofBike Ranch Babes and Team Bust who was actually Team Cunt, but decidedto change their name to protect the innocent. All the female teams kickedsome serious ass, with some of the most exciting racing of the event. Inthe end it was a close race with Call Girls International taking the firstprize with Femme Du Kick Ass second and Critical Path - Artemis comingin third, but first as the top Courier team.
The Male's final came down to Team Cohiba, Brother Kuz, Trail Hogs,Tower of Power, Intel Com Courier from Montreal and Team UML. After somefurious racing, near wipe-outs and a member of Intel Com Courier t-boninga member of the Trail Hogs, Team Cohiba came out on top winning the male'sportion of the St. Stephen's courier classic.
The rest of the night was spent scarfing veggie dogs and whatever theyput into those meat ones, courtesy of the Messengers International, drinkingfine Red Baron Beer and listening to the All Out Band, who incidently alsoraced. From the beginning, the organizers, myself and the multi-talentedSarah Hood looked for a major sponsor to put the event on and they werealways under our nose.
If it wasn't for the help of the Bike Messenger companies who put inmoney to the Toronto Bike Messenger Community and friends from marshaling.To setting up and tearing down, serving beer, cooking hot dogs and everythingelse we would not have been able to raise over $5000.00 for St Stephen'sCommunity House. So next year the title of the race is going to changeto The Bike Messengers of Toronto present The St Stephen's Courier Classicbecause they did.
And why is it that they did all this work. Well for one they like torace, they like to party, but most of all they love to help and as oneRace Marshal said, "St Stephen's does a lot of good for the communityand they got my friend off of Crack."
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org