Before I created this post claiming to coin the term exenger (to refer to ex-cycle messengers) last May, I checked Google for any prior mentions of the “word”. Apart from some results such as some German, Star Trek fan-fiction about the USS Exenger, misspellings of the word “exchanger” and expired domain name pages for exenger.com…there didn’t seem to be any results that related to cycle messengers/couriers. I’m not claiming that I am the first dude to ever think of this portmanteau…but I think I was the first to put it online.
Anyhow, I decided to do a the same search again and lo and behold, now the first four results are courier related. How about that?
“Well that’s my feat, I don’t want to diminish it/Came in third that’s a podium finish….Came in third, honourable mention/Booked my seat at the losers’ convention.”-The Fauves
Lines from “Podium Finish”, from one of my old favourites from Melbourne, The Fauves. I recommended clicking the play button on the player that I’ve embedded below to use as a soundtrack for this post. This and other b-sides are freely downloadable from their website.
Anyhow, this post is to inform you that I’ve added to my cycling palmarès in the past couple of weeks. For those of you that don’t know, a palmarès is the French term used in cycling that translates as “prize list”…so a list of wins, places and other notable results that you’ve had in past races.
I’m not that much of a cycle racer. Despite liking cycling a lot, I don’t have the dedication to train enough to race seriously. However, once in a while I enter a (semi) competitive event and have had a couple of modest successes.
This is how my palmarès (I use that term in the loosest possible sense) looked as of 2 weeks ago.
I was pleased at this result in the CMWC, held just up the road from my old stomping ground in Calgary. I know I always bang on about this but I think that cycling 8hrs+ in constant rain (about 10° C) to qualify and then 5 hours in intermittent rain during the final is an achievement. I even finished ahead of Kevin “Squid” Bolger. It was an improvement on not qualifying for the final of the European Cycle Messenger Championships in London the previous year. At the very least, it’s a good war story to tell at the pub!
Over the past 2 weekends I’ve added a couple of distinctive results. The first of which is:
5th 27 May. Gran Fondo Cymru (Sporting Route). Bala, Gwynedd, Wales.
In 2006, we did the 180 km/110 mile Gran Fondo route, but this year a variety of factors (not least laziness) meant that we were both under-trained for that distance…not to mention the Welsh hills! Therefore, we decided that the 60 km/40 mile route was the go, seeing as we’d already shelled out £25 to enter and also paid for accommodation.
Although this felt like a bit of a cop out for a while, the nearer the date of the event, the more it seemed like this decision didn’t seem such a bad thing when we saw the weather forecasts. The whole weekend was forecast to be one huge downpour with max. temperatures fluctuating between 1° C and 10° C, depending on when the Bala metcheck.com page was reloaded.
The profile you see above is downloaded from Gerard’s GPS unit and you can see that even though the distance was only 60-70 odd kilometres, there were still some hills to be reckoned with.
The first half of the route was into a stiff wind…at its worst maybe 30mph. Also, the spikes in the second half of the ride were pretty draining, exacerbated by the incessant precipitation and the cold conditions…probably about 3° C before windchill on average. I recovered quickly enough to have a strong run in the last 10km back into Bala to clock a time of 2hr 42min 54sec, placing me just off the “podium” in 5th. The caveat here is that all the super strong cyclists were all busting their butts on the 110mile Gran Fondo route and the 125 mile Super Challenge but not bad nevertheless. 5th out of 68 finishers, according to the official results sheet (85-ish starters).
Doing a 3 hour ride instead of an 8+ hour one had other advantages apart from spending less time in the freezing Welsh weather. It also meant that I wasn’t completely knackered like I was in 2006 and was able to enjoy my afternoon and evening more this year. The trip back to Oxford via Port Meirion was also quite pleasant…the sun came out!
However, I promise to train earlier and more frequently for next year’s GFC!!
Stay tuned for my account of extending my palmarès further by getting on the “podium” of last Friday’s Oxford Bingo Alleycat!
If you’ve delved into the eclecticism of this blog at any point, you’ll know that I quite like cycling.
Here are some facts that you may or may not know about me and cycling:
My first bicycle was a little, yellow Star Flyer that I had in New Zealand. It had stabilizers/training wheels for a while. The coolest thing about it was the AM radio on the bars and the grip that made a motorbike noise when you twisted it.
I won a little, local race called the Montmorency Hill Climb in the year 2000 in Australia. This isn’t quite as impressive as it might sound but it’s still an achievement.
I was a cycle messenger/courier in Calgary for a spell in 2001. It was only for 9 months, so I’m still technically still a rookie.
Being a cycle courier was an awesome job which changed my life…I thought I was into cycling before 2001 but it was nothing compared to after couriering in Calgary.
I thought about working in London when I arrived in the UK but decided against it.
I competed in the European Cycle Messenger Championships in London in 2003.
I was 23rd in the 2004 Cycle Messenger World Championships in Edmonton.
I have three bikes at the moment. They all have names.
One of the tenets of my life that I try to abide by is, “An International Man of Bike shall never be anchored by the mundane”. It’s debatable as to whether blogging about it automatically nullifies that statement or not.
In point 3 I mentioned that I am technically still a rookie. Here’s a video of someone who is definitely a “vet”. Kevin Bolger, New York City’s most famous messenger….