There is no North American Cycle Courier Championship without a Championship race. Without a closed course work simulation, you just have an alleycat and some parties. The amount of effort that goes into closing traffic anywhere, in any city, is such that most people don’t bother trying.
Our championships are often held in parks and parking lots and, occasionally, just out in open traffic, failing to deliver on the promises that are made year after year after year at the open forum.
The amount of work that goes into pulling something like this off is unfathomable. Thousands and thousands of thankless, unpaid hours done because of love. I already have a (mostly) thankless (largely) unpaid job of love in my life in the form of Samurai Messenger. I really had no interest to really be involved in organizing the NACCC.
I kept off to the side, reading the email discussions, attended a few meetings (actual: three) and offering opinions and ideas when I thought they might be helpful. I was not going to be involved in the NACCC, and I was more than ok with it; I was excited to race it. In a park, a parking lot, anywhere. I looked forward to drinking some beers, riding some bikes, and hanging out with whomever came to town. I had absolutely no intention of working with organization, planning, logistics. And that is really almost how it happened.
Throughout the past two years, many, many members of the NYC extended messenger community kept working at making the NACCC happen. I would be remiss to not give credit to Izumi, who secured our Bronx race course in Soundview park. He worked on the backend of the website, insurance, securing meeting locations, and so much more.I didn't see him this weekend, but I hope he realizes that his contributions to this event were invaluable. I also hope he still has the pastel colored XXL Keirin kit he won as a DFL prize for ECMC Brooklyn all those years ago.
I barely even know Doug Suriano, but he wrote, developed, help me understand, and troubleshoot the software that ran the main race finals. Without this, our race design would have been a total nightmare to score. He's gone on to a real programming job, and wouldn't let me buy him a couple of beers via the internet. Maybe he’ll come home for the Philly NACCC in 2018 and I can buy him a couple of rounds then.
In addition to handling all things graphic design, Hiromi Bruni also sat in on many of the race concept meetings, since they took place at his house. When Crhis, Austin, and I were yelling and arguing about how to implement the main race, Hiro was the one that said “In NYC, you’re given a rate sheet. It’s up to you to use it or not.” This became a central concept in our main race, one that elicited audible groans from many of the racers. Welcome to New York.
I had never met Meryl before Austin had us meet with The Brooklyn Navy Yard as a potential race course. The three of us rode around, plotting out maps and thinking about what an amazing event the NACCC could be. After two weeks of waiting, they pulled out and so did my involvement. But Meryl’s perseverance pushed the event onward, and she was seemingly everywhere, involved in every aspect of the event.
Sam Paul, in addition to doing all of the other things that she did for the NACCC, sat with me four hours on Saturday night as we attempted to peel apart wet, damaged wads of qualifying manifests and parse information from an incomplete, damaged registration database. I might still be there now if she hadn’t insisted on coming to my aid. Almost all of you should have been disqualified.
Dagga made me tear up on stage by presenting me with a trophy that she made. We could've kicked out all the sponsors, skipped the parties, not had any other prizes, and given out Dagga’s statues, and I think every winner would have been just as satisfied. Dagga and I sometimes go years without seeing each other, but it takes a blink before one of my best friends is by my side again. I don't think this is unique to our relationship; I think it’s because she is a unique individual who always continues to inspire me.
Tug Boat Taylor is possibly a clone. There is no way a single individual could actually have been responsible for all the things he did last weekend. Despite this, I didn't publicly thank him on stage on Saturday night and he might think I’m an asshole, especially since he was standing right next to me for most of the night. Well, he would be right and I’m okay with that as well. But if you didn’t meet him, thank him, or buy him a beer, well that makes you an asshole too. So next time you see him, you buy him a beer. He fucking deserves it. He was some how responding to texts at 4 AM and beating me to the course at 8 AM on Saturday and still out at the party when I left, at 2 AM. Definitely a clone. Or just a hard working motherfucker.
I’ve known Crhis Thorman almost as long as he’s been a part of the NYC messenger community. Since 2005, we’ve been friends, coworkers, compatriots, antagonizers. I don't think we’ve ever been enemies (although that would be a better story, maybe) - but now he is definitely part of my family. We argued, extensively about race design. We wanted something challenging and fair and representative of the NYC experience. Crhis’ input shaped the main race, the alleycats, the merchandise and most everything else throughout the weekend
Simon was on point for party logistics. Floor plans, logistics, security and volunteer coordination. Turning vision into reality is extremely difficult, especially for an empty warehouse the size of a city block. Again, a job that none of us knew how to handle, played flawlessly by a volunteer.
Victor, who I hope is okay, ran with the party. He might have ran too far with the party, but he made sure that there was something for everyone. Beers, and bands and DJs all happening at all the things.
Big Al I’ve known and loved for a while now, but I had really never spent any time with Brandon or Dillon or most of the rest of the Lockfoot Posi. Brandon took notes at the weekly meetings, shared them to the work group and kept anyone that was interested involved in what was going on. And then they sponsored the main race. And then organized side events that weren't just the same old shit.
They brought their party to the race course and invited everyone to participate. I know that I missed out on a big part of the weekend by being too busy to visit their checkpoint, race in the keg race or bike toss or anything else. I hope I can make it up to them by racing in Happy Fun Times this weekend (which will be my first NYC alleycat in close to a decade). I feel like I didn't really know those guys until the past month, and if the NACCC doesn't give me anything else, I’m actually okay with that.
Amanda Hagy is your 2016 North American Cat Herding Champion. She covered every aspect of event logistics, from coordinating volunteers to assembling the race course to the placement of the porta potties. I honestly don’t know how she did it. Many times over the weekend, I saw her challenged - not by the magnitude of the job, but by a lack of respect and support for the work she was doing. Somehow she continued to work hard without punching anyone in the face. I don't think I could have done it. I honestly have never seen a better job done of handling logistics by anyone, at any championship ever (except for maybe the Swiss, but they're the fucking Swiss).
Christina and Nico may have won the race, but Austin Horse is your 2016 North American Cycle Courier Champion. He went all in on this event, putting his training, his fitness, his jobs, his personal life, and everything else in his world on hold to make this happen. “We can’t throw a shitty NACCC”: his mantra became a statement of fact, and this is what dragged me into it.
Austin has won this race a few times - and he does not hide that it has brought him opportunities not afforded to most bike messengers. Messenger championships are a big deal, and not just to us. Its one of the few occasions where the outside world takes note that we actually exist.
Over the past year he has, again and again tried to rally the NYC community behind him, with varied, limited, and occasional success. The NACCC may not be the work of one person, but without Austin there would have been no NACCC.
His dedication, attention to detail, and belief that we could throw this event worked - and not just on us - but also city council members, the local police force, sponsors, and pretty much everyone he spoke to about the NACCC. The city has not closed down traffic for a new cycling event in over 20 years. And they did it for a bike messenger event.
If you have ever done this job, for any amount of time, you’ve been told to use a back door. You’ve been to told to stand in the rain while someone comes downstairs. You’ve been disregarded, marginalized and treated as less than human. Austin’s vision for the NACCC gave us something that I honestly thought could not possibly happen.
It rallied a fractious NYC messenger community together - even if it was just for a week, we worked as a team. Simply put, that has not happened in over a decade. We’re a big city, with enough messengers that we don’t know all the other messengers. Shit, I don't even know all the other messenger companies. To bring together the cranky old farts, the fixie kids, the food delivery crews, the serves, the mutants, the activists, the rookies, and everyone else - that shit was magic.
I hope you came to New York and had a great time. I hope you appreciate the work that went into making something like this happen. I hope we inspired you to go home, get your shit together and try it yourself. We made it happen here, it can happen anywhere.
Keep the rubber side down, and try harder.
Joshua Seth Whitesnake.
PS: I also need to thank all of our volunteers, checkpoint people, runners, drivers, and anyone else that ate any amount of shit or work or shitwork for us for the entire weekend. Most of you I had never met before last weekend. Some of you I never met. I would like to send all of you some kind of sweaty beer soaked hug, but I suppose that will have to wait until the next time I see you.
In literally no order whatsoever; Al, Becky Hurricane, Jeremy, Lydia, Nikita, Lane, Eli, Sara, Edisson, Ramon, Yeti, Barbara, Wing, Eric, Callie, Camilo, Jorge, Kate Lockfoot, Laura, Jimmy, James, Deaner, Carl, Felipe, Michael, Joe, Harun, Stephen, Tim, Corey, Leah, David, Mike Dailey, Joleen, Jason, Shannon, Christopher, Benjamin, Dan G, Francis, Danny K, Marcus, Jimmy, Bill, Anthony, Chris, Sophia, Bert, Justin, 49, Sanja, Paul, Jeffrey, Manuel, Kyle Corpsefinger, Kelly, Chris, Alex, Zachary, Aaron, Alejandro, Jon, Oscar, Adam, IGGY, Bev, Anna, Marco, Brennan, Joey Krillz,, Adam, Shea, Jen, Erik Zo, Becca, John, Michael, Kendra, John, Griffin, Posi Bill, Richard Andrade, Amanda, Maria, Lucas, Franz, Tarik, Toni, Eugene, Frank, Kevin, and Sonya. If you read that whole list of names, and didn't see yourself but know that you did some good, hard work for the event feel free to print this list out and write in your name here _________.
PPS: Also thanks to my wonderful wife who cared for our dog, and worked the entire weekend teaching English to adult immigrants. Jules didn’t get to come to a single event, but she allowed me to be everywhere. Also my dog, who is still talking to me, for some reason. And also all of Samurai Messenger who came out, raced, partied, and ran the show while I made the NACCC an 80 hour a week job in the final push. Thanks to the best crew of messengers anywhere.