Weekender Ride

Portlanders make strong showing at Cycle Messenger World Championships

Posted by on August 6th, 2012 at 10:46 am

Some serious loads for the Cargo Race.
(Photos: Mike Cobb)

Five Portlanders just returned from Chicago where they competed in the 20th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships. The event featured the 250 best professional cargo couriers and messengers from around the world who put their skills to the test with a race around Soldier Field, a cargo bike race, sprints, a track stand competition (where riders balance on their bikes in place, without moving), and more.

Former Portland State University track racing star Anita Dilles, now racing for Portland Pedal Power, competed in the track events. She took 1st place in the match sprint, 2nd in the scratch race, and 3rd in the tempo race — an effort that earned her 2nd overall. Dilles also won the women’s track stand (and finished 10th overall among the men). Fellow competitor Mike Cobb sent us updates from Chicago, including the photos below of Dilles in action.

Dilles in black

Winning style!

For Dilles, who also works part time for local cargo bike specialty shop Joe Bike, this was her first ever messenger race. “It was an awesome introduction to the scene,” she shared with me via email this morning. Here’s more from Dilles:

“For me, the race was challenging and fun: I’m accustomed to racing just to be the fastest (in road, track, and mountain biking), but in a messenger race there’s a lot of route finding and strategic package pickup/drop off to contend with, as well as plenty of heckling from the checkpoint operators.”

Cobb, a part-time fabricator who also works part-time as a courier for GoBox, represented Portland (and his sponsor B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery) quite well himself. He finished 4th in the Cargo Race, 2nd in the skids competition, and 1st in Men’s track stand.

The Cargo Race was Cobb’s main focus. He actually finished 3rd; but there was some confusion at the end that ultimately put him in 4th. Cobb says the top three spots were all Bullitt front-loader cargo bikes. He rode a Surly Steamroller with a fixed gear and a Blue Sky Cycle Cart trailer.

Portland’s prowess on the track was also evident on the men’s side with Al Urbanski and Joe Prettyman of the Sizzle Pie/Blaq team earning 1st and 3rd overall. Also representing Portland was local professional messenger Damian Riehl.

Nice work to all the competitors. It sure is great to know that such a (relatively) small city like Portland can compete with the the world’s best human-powered delivery professionals.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jenn August 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Way to go Anita and Mike!!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Anita Dilles August 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      Thanks Jenn! What a great experience!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel August 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

    “where riders balance on their bikes in place, without moving”

    the typical “wheel at an angle” track stand requires a small amount of back and forth movement (sometimes imperceptible to the observer).
    its much easier to track stand on a track bike or fixie than on a freewheel — hence the forward travel of many track standing cat-6 commuters.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby August 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

    So funny that someone goes to World’s to do first ever messenger race.
    Funny as in ridiculous.
    Used to be you had to actually be a “working messenger”
    to compete in the NACCS or Worlds.
    Should still be that way.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • joel August 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      never, ever, has participation at cmwc been limited to “working messengers”, dabby. “civilians” have been welcomed in various ways at various times, and people with connections to the messenger scene have always been welcome, regardless of whether or not they are, or have ever have been, a messenger. and currently working has only ever been a criteria in the minds of those who got beat by ex-messengers or civilians.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • spare_wheel August 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        are fakengers welcome?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • joel August 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm

          sure, if they pay entry fee and have no issue with the fact their results will only count if theyre a current or former bike messenger.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dabby August 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      I agree, and was wrongly (badly) communicating, that you needed to “have” been a working messenger to qualify, and as you say, to claim it…..As in 2nd place above.
      I quit a job, to get a riding job again, for much less money, to be a working courier racing in the NACCS PDX.
      Just sayin….

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Scott August 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        Hahahaha, I remember that. Your Fat Chance squeaked so bad from the poorly toed brakes that everyone would cringe when you came down the hill.

        I also remember how you always talked about not wanting to make “lateral” career moves. A step down is certainly not lateral.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Bjorn August 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

          Con Jambell calling other people out for not “working” man the irony on this thread…

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Beefa August 8, 2012 at 4:55 am

        Seriously Dabby? Did you make the trip BTW?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Mike Cobb August 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      Anita rides part-time for Portland Pedal Power, one of our local cargo courier firms.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • basketloverd August 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    What is a “professional” messenger?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Someone who is employed by a company specifically to carry goods upon a bicycle from place to place. Please note: In Portland we have a lot of companies — not just strictly courier companies — that deliver/carry stuff by bike.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Joseph E August 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Someone paid to deliver things by bike, usually small packages that are time-sensitive.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Scott August 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Someone that people in elevators ask what the weather is like outside.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby August 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    It refers to a person who has put in the time on the job/streets/bike and knows what they are doing, having mastered the job.
    One could say that to simply be paid to ride your bike makes you a professional.
    However, within the industry this really is not the case.
    You are a rookie until you shine through.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • resopmok August 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Elists often see their own profession or “thing” as being more difficult, demanding or dangerous than most other professions, despite how easy or meaningless of a task it actually is. A lot of people get paid to do things they suck at and have no interest in learning to do them well, and will never be professionals at anything. You are a rookie until you work hard and strive to do well simply for the satisfaction of a job well done.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • CaptainKarma August 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    The Mario Bro in the tight jersey is an active messenger?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • julie August 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Anita kills it! So proud of her.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Anita Dilles August 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Thanks Julie!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Zaphod August 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Way to represent PDX!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mixtieme August 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Anita needs to race here in portland BEFORE going to the worlds. Want an introduction to the scene come be apart of your local scene.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Case August 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Wow, Portland Messenger mentality at its finest. Some things never change.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Scott August 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      Totally. From your comment alone I can see how inviting and inclusive your “scene” is.

      Also the conversation was about her joining messenger races.

      I haven’t heard of any of the working messengers in Portland throwing any races since Snack’s race Blooms Day.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Case August 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

        Remember when we were a community Scotty? Those were the days.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Beefa August 8, 2012 at 4:59 am

          Do you guys miss me yet?? PDX needs another Critastrophy it seems..

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Case August 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

            I miss you! More death-crits in Produce Row!

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • joel August 7, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      sweet, so i suppose youve thrown plenty of qualifying messenger races, oh anonymous mixtieme? that being said, there is NO messenger racing scene here in portland. oh, theres any number of alleycats, thats for sure, but no *messenger* racing scene.

      as someone whos been involved in the organization of MULTIPLE cmwcs, i think im safe in saying that anita doesnt need to race *anywhere* before heading to worlds.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Case August 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm


        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Scott August 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        Joel stamp of approval.

        Super I-fficial.

        You can’t get more legit unless Dean loans you tools.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anita Dilles August 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Just want to clarify – Portland Pedal Power (PPP) is the company that I deliver (read: work, currently) for, and I represented them during my races this weekend. I don’t race ‘for’ PPP per say – I ride an awesome Yuba Mundo and make deliveries.

    SO, Dabby, for your clarification, I am a current messenger.

    I had a great time at CMWC-Chicago -thank you PPP!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • sw resident August 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Oh boy, I think you don’t know who Dabby is.
      However, since apparently you are also a messenger I guess you could both get together at the stoop and rap about these things: Speed boat, eight ball, loading dock, killer hash, triple one, yabba, plaza, portland’s longest working messenger, the ship, toilet douche, safety break, tag. Special reminiscence: elwood.
      Peace out.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • joel August 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

        what, to be a current working messenger, you now have to be familiar with lingo from both the present and bygone eras, as well as being familiar with dabby? is this a test, or some kind of cruel joke? 🙂

        personally, i think that as a current working messenger in portland you should be more familiar with crossword puzzles, coffee and reading books…

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Bjorn August 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm

        Man I think you are behind the times on the lingo, they call him Con Jampbell these days.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Mike Cobb August 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        Cargo couriers are often on the geeky periphery of the whole bike delivery scene. A separate subspecies, if you will. Different jargon, or lack thereof, less intense routing experiences and thus less ability and affinity for alley cats. Alley cats provide a really cool way for couriers to know eachother, to develop community, to decide who’s authentic.
        I owned a cargo courier company for 4 years, maintained cargo bike and trailer fleets for 4 separate cargo courier companies, have ridden my bike in lieu of a car since ’95 (always convincing part-time non-courier company employers to let me ride for errands and deliveries), and have worked off and on professionally delivering by bike since 2000. I know I haven’t made Dabby’s scene, but maybe someday.

        Despite the fact that I’m a jargon-ignorant, freight-handling, somewhat lawful bike delivery boy, I attend messenger competitions because I love ’em. CMWCs are THE WAY to partake in high-level PRACTICAL CYCLING COMPETITIONS. Pretty much the only way to get deeply challenged within the skills that I deeply value.

        Like Joel said, CMWCs have maintained a consistent thread of civilian inclusivity, through various styles. Check the Chicago CMWC website to learn how they did it: when registering, you checked the “messenger” or “non-messenger” box. This distinction applied to the Main Race only and rendered separate Main Race results categories, making it possible to compare oneself exclusively to one category or the other or to everybody. CMWC Chicago worked the database technology really well. All the side events, including the Cargo Race, only determined the best and paid no mind to working messenger status. Pretty typical CMWC style.

        One last observation: EVERY Main Race champion that I’ve ever seen has been soft-spoken, self-effacing, intelligent, INCLUSIVE, approachable, Kind. Josephine and Craig are wonderful trend-affirming examples. One might say that these incredibly talented messengers completely defy the jargon-slinging, hard-drinking, exclusivity-promoting style that is often the attention-grabbing style that we see. Not a single one of them has been concerned with authenticity-policing. In other words, They’ve all struck me as Beeing on a wavelength wholly separate from Dabby’s. Just sayin.

        In the end, if you deliver by bike, whether rookie or seasoned a**hole or some other category, I have love and respect for what you do, would prefer to be on the same mutually-supportive team, and am ready to raise a glass..

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • nobody August 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

    The reality is that it’s impossible to prove or disprove someone is or was a working messenger, so I think the organizers have stopped trying to police it. These races incorporate a lot more than just riding fast, and experienced messengers will generally rise to the top. For example, locking and unlocking your bike 20x, grabbing the right package out of your bag without having to look at all of them, not damaging fragile drops, routing round trips, add stops, one ways, etc. without having to stare at a map.

    It’s generally geared towards folks that deliver to offices in cities, but you could deliver sandwiches, cargo, people, flowers, whatever, nobody’s going to ask for your frickin’ work papers. Everybody can figure out who’s working, retired, or posing anyway.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bjorn August 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Cool to see that Craig Etheridge who hails from Seattle is the first US Man to be a 2 time World Champ in the Overall: http://bit.ly/Teypqn

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Franklin Jones August 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Congrats Mike and Anita! Thanks for representing PDX!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Phil August 8, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Way to go Anita! IT was a great event. Whats more amusing is all this crap from messengers in PDX whining about who should and shouldn’t be allowed in CMWC’s. All you saw was a group of people who love cycling and their craft having a great time. There was even a dude in a hotdog suit! Maybe if you came out instead of being a hipster…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • joel August 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      “all this crap from messengers in PDX whining about…”? well, theres dabby, but he hasnt worked downtown in years now. other than that, theres no one whining that i can conclusively identify as a portland messenger, whether traditional urgent delivery type, cargo messenger, or food delivery person… id be surprised if more than 2 or 3 pdx messengers even knew about this thread.

      personally, i wouldve loved to have been able to go – nyc 2005 ended my decade-long string of cmwc attendance, and with one coworker already on vacation at a 5 person company, me leaving just wasnt possible. (and thats not even getting into how the hell id afford the trip)

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike Cobb August 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Nicely put, Phil. It was really good to meet you. Thanks for all your work to make the event smooth and supportive. I look forward to chasing you around Chicago again some day.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike Cobb August 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Joel’s right. We’re talking about a small but loud faction.

    Recommended Thumb up 0