It’s halfway into Bike Month, and Mother Nature’s unpredictable weather has already tempted you to take the TTC. Starting today, ditch the bike for the weekend and take the ferry to Toronto Island instead to watch other people pedal for the 16th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships.
Unlike traditional bike tourneys, the various events—including skids, bike jumps, and a cargo race—seem designed to test adrenaline as opposed to endurance. Testing the true skills of a bike messenger is the three-hour main race, where contestants have to figure out the best drop-off route for packages and navigate ramps and stairs. Today is the last day of in-person registration down at the Steam Whistle factory, and if you think two weeks of Bike Month-ing have whipped you into shape, feel free to register. (The championships are open to non-bike messengers as well.)
If you’re not so much an adrenaline junkie as a music junkie, consider that NXNE performances will take place on the Island concurrently. One of the performers is Toronto rapper Abdominal (Andy Bernstein), whose song “Pedal Pusher” off of last year’s Escape From the Pigeon Hole is the Bike Month theme. Of his unconventional subject matter, Abdominal says, “When I made the song it wasn’t like ‘Yeah, I’ve got to get on my soapbox and convince everyone to bike.’ I always cycled in the city to get from A to B, and my lyrics reflect my life.”
A long-time Torontonian, the 34-year-old has never bothered with a driver’s licence, and relies instead on a pink 80s road bike inherited from his dad. “It makes no sense,” he says of other methods of transportation. “The TTC is slow, gas is expensive, cars pollute.”
As a former bike messenger, he also anticipates the physical strength required for the Cycle Messenger Championships through his own experience. “Everyday I’d come home and need two hours to myself to decompress because it’s basically an adrenaline rush the whole day. The quicker you are, the more you get paid, because it’s not a salaried job—it’s per delivery. You’ve got to hustle!”
Check out BikingToronto and Abdominal’s interactive bike lane and bike shop maps. The Cycle Messenger World Championships run from June 13 to 16 on Toronto Island, and admission is free ($6 for ferry).
Photo of bike couriers from CMCW.