Cinq a sept – Weekend-long happy hour in Montreal at the Cycle Messenger World Championships


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Number 25?


We drove here from Toronto, the car broke down 20 minutes from downtown.  After situating the car, paying the cabbie to deliver our stuff while we tailed him to our AirBNB, we made our plans for the next day of exploring and fun in Montreal.

Working on Tactical Pop-up projects in Buffalo, Montreal is the perfect place for me to have come on holiday.  The whole city is covered with them.  I can ride around and take them in on my GoPro, edit them out frame by frame.  There are so many, only filming them really captures them all.  I was on a phone call with the team back in Buffalo and they were concerned that the planters I’d selected were too short.  I realized I’d passed at least 50 street facing planters about the same size in the very few hours I’d been here and my old messenger buddy Laura and I hadn’t even covered 10 km.


There are layers of bike community laid on top of each other like sediment in rock formations.  Montreal is coincidentally 375 years old this year next to Canada’s 150 years.  You can see the difference when you leave Toronto and ride the streets of this strongly European influenced city.  There is art on buildings everywhere.  It seems you can’t swing a dead cat without running into yet another epic masterpiece.  Pieces are painted on top of pieces.

Our courier community as well, has many layers.  There are the ones that came before my generation who have either died off or just don’t come.  My generation is now the ancient generation.  We come and no one really recognizes us.  There will be a few youngsters that remember our faces, our names, our call-names, but it is rare.  There are those guys like Andy Zalan, Nadir, Bega, Porno Steve, and Fish that are still embedded either as company owners, organizers or otherwise in the bike world, who are widely accepted as the legends, the elder statesmen.  For those of us who retired a decade or more previous and haven’t been to a championships in as long a period, we’re practically forgotten.  If we’re remembered, it’s our names, not our faces that are legend.

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It’s a cool bunch though.  We the veterans look on the young ones sometimes with derision for their little, uneducated attitudes, but for the most part, they amuse us.  They remind us of younger versions of ourselves.  I still get excited when I hear there are new cities coming on-line with messenger cities, this year’s break-out buzz is the 5 guys that came from Jakarta.  So in love with the messenger community, they’re already putting in a bid to throw the messenger worlds in Jakarta in 2019.  They’re up against and since I’ve ridden in both Houston and LA, my vote is going to Jakarta.  Besides, anyplace that has a 2,000 fixed gear mass ride sounds incredibly cool.

Laura Hopcroft told me that she met a young female messenger who was lamenting the end of the messenger golden age, in 2010.  The kid didn’t even know that 2008 was the second time Toronto had held a world championships.  She knew nothing of the culture she came from, the traditions and where they came from.  We love the little fools all the same.  I wonder if when my generation was young if we didn’t sound the same to our elders.  I like to think I paid the ones that came before more respect.  Hopefully we’ll get a chance to spread our nostalgia and the kids will learn from our stories, just like we learned from the old guys that were before us.  It’s important.  In the meantime, in Montreal parlance, I’m going to the bar for “cinq a sept” or happy hour.  Meet some new youngins, ask them where they are from and what the industry is up to these days.


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Looking into the past, through the glass of a phone booth


Who knows, maybe there’s another book in it?



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