Monday, September 11, 2006

North American Cycle Courier Championships 2006

Every year, for the past 9 years, a huge race known simply as the "Naccc's" has taken place in a different north american city. This year - against better judgement and with the greatest of intentions - it was decided the race, which generally pulls in anywhere from 200-400 participants, would take place in Philadelphia! We had almost a year to prepare (immediately following the race each year, there's a vote to decide the city that will host the following year's festivities), but nothing could really prepare us for the crazy weekend we would be dealt by mother nature.
As soon as we found out the news, I immediately sent out emails to the Japanese contingent and informed them that they MUST be in attendance and they had 8 months to get their tickets. I'd house them all in my two-bedroom apartment. This actually gave me a built-in excuse for the "three-a.m.-post-party-drunkard-from-wherever" who would make absolutely no previous housing arrangements, but would no doubt attempt to stay at my house during the weekend. "Sorry, I've got six people staying at my house already...woulda loved to have you, though..."
Here's how Seiya's daughters Aika and Yume showed up at my spot. Seiya (my Japanese distributor and owner of Depot Cycle/Recycle) came with his wife, Mami, and his daughters. Plus Atushi (from Gunung) and Keiji (world famous carpenter and kobayashi imitator) came along too. So did Yoshi (Mixpression creator; Mixpression is Tokyo's largest alleycat event). Oliver from Baltimore/Tokyo also pictured. Seiya and them came the Monday of race week. Yoshi came the saturday before

The first thing that one must do when they visit Philly is go to Bob and Barbaras. And it just so happened that Bnb's was having a PAJAMA PARTY that Tuesday. So of course we had to roll. Atushi on Spring Garden street with a little fixed gear wheelie.

Emily had left her bike at home, so I gave her a ride on the front of the Bilenky cargo bike. She snapped this pic from the front basket. Emily designs all our shirts and most recently has developed a series of illustrations based on owls.

We'd actually spent the better part of the day, leading up to Bnb's, shopping at the huge dollar store on Delaware ave, Target, and Burlington Coat factory. At each place, Aika and Yume got to buy a ton of clothing and toys. Mami got them pajamas, but only if she could get some too. She's seen here rocking Spongebob jammies for the pajama party. What.

The whole Bnb's staff was dressed for the occasion. Some for the better....and some for the worse. Steve Ferrell aka "DJ Thunder Chicken" holding it down. No, i don't know why he shaved a cross in his chest hair. You might not be able to tell, but behind him there was a table of ribs, chicken, greens, potato salad, and various other delicious foods. I really don't understand why anybody goes anyplace else. For $4, you can get a can of PBR, a shot of Jim Beam, and a plate of food. All the while listening to good music from either the internet-connected jukebox, or a live dj who thinks radio sucks. Ridiculous.

Here's Keiji, Atushi, and Mami flexing. Mami was a little upset at the low wearing pajamas/not wearing pajamas ratio, but a little later on some more people started flowing in.

There's some sequences of events which are simply inevitable. Take, for instance, Emily G. Here she is drinking a beer.

And here she has obviously finished the beer and decided to poke Keiji in the eyes. Probably after a barrage of verbal insults. And I mean her insulting HIM, not her responding to his insults with an eye-poking move.

Following such behavior, she'll always pretend she really loves you. How can you stay mad at that?

Esher was in the house too, sporting his old man Jim Beam pajama pants. He won a prize for "best alcohol-related pants". I'm not kidding.

Naccc head organizer Stewy was also present. This was pretty much the last time he was seen out before race weekend. That Alize-looking bottle in his hand is actually Mad Dog, and was one of Esher's prizes. No word on whether Esher ever got it back or not....

Ellie and Carrie decided that this weekend would be their "Dance Team R.E.Load" coming-out party. They practiced a routine, complete with high-speed patty-cake hand-slapping, "Fly Girl" wiggling, and Beat Street strutting. This is their finishing move. No, the camera is not sideways. They're breaking it down to the floor. The routine would be busted out at random moments - pretty much whenever the urge struck - all weekend long.

Mami won the grand prize for "best pajamas". She and Emily celebrated by battling Ellie and Carrie in a short-lived dance-off.

Right as we were preparing for the Naccc's, this van appeared on my block. It's here ALL the time now. So fitting, since Donte Stallworth shut up all naysayers on Sunday, while the rest of the NFC East lost miserably. If you live in Dallas, say peace to Bledsoe for me. Suckers. Next up: Scurred-little-boy Eli and the New York Penalty crew. What. Ok, back to messenger stuff....

I forget what night this was, but we decided to have a barbeque on the deck of my apartment. It was absolutely huge; there were burgers, hot sausages, grilled corn, vegetables, two types of salad, baked ziti, and some other stuff that i've probably forgotten. By the way - interesting sidenote - Herr's is now making "philly cheese steak" flavored potato chips. They're actually pretty good, but only because Herr's completely missed the mark on the flavoring. Anyway, we also had a bottle of Stoli 100-proof and a bottle of Glen Livet, along with about two cases of beer. Needless to say things started getting a little rough. I yelled out "Kobayashi!" (famous Japanese competitive eater), and Keiji went nuts on this imitation.

On to the actual racing. There was a nice welcome ride and an art crawl the friday of the event, and one of the stops was at R.E.Load. Most of the bags from the "Pedal:Reloaded" show were here. The place was packed with riders even though it was raining and nasty outside. You can check out pics of the bags, if you haven't seen them yet, here. Here's Carrie showcasing the new R.E.Load rain jacket. Call to order.

This is Dailey, one of the main organizers and the man responsible for the permits, barricades, paying the cops, the EMT's, and a bunch of other stuff. Dailey was stressed. Pretty much he was not to be approached during the weekend, unless it was Sunday night and you were trying to give him some booze. Saturday was hurricane Ernesto, as anybody in the northeast knows. Beleieve it or not, we actually ran qualifiers, and people actually raced! We decided that anybody who braved the conditions Saturday should automatically make the finals on Sunday. Kevein Dillard from the Demoncats took a whole mess of photos this weekend; check them out at the Demoncats website.

I wound up being an organizer AND a sponsor for the race. It was kinda hard to juggle everything, so if you saw me this weekend and i seemed to brush right past you without caring, don't take it personally. Pretty much every minute of the weekend was taken up by some responsibility to R.E.Load, the race, or one of the 11 people who were staying in my building. Anyway, it's about 7am in this picture, and we were setting up the course for the finals. We hired the same company that does the First Union USPRO (or whatever the hell bank it is now) race, and the guy was on point. I took this photo while hanging off the back of his truck, dropping off barricades all over the course. That's Pat Gaffney in the background. Pat came up big, helping out all over the place. He also was the organizer of the cargo race. Bilenky cargo bikes, go!!!

This is Stewy preriding the course Sunday. Yes, our volunteer shirts were hideously ugly, but tell me you had a problem finding a volunteer in these gems!

Andy Zalen (AZ) from DC threw a whole "race-within-a-race", and I've gotta say, it was the ish. DC rolled thick in the RV. They were offering up eggs and bacon while we were setting up the course. When the race started, they had a DJ set up, and he was playing the best from Madlib, Dilla, and more. No radio crap. They had fondue - both cheese and chocolate - and tons of fruit and bread to dip. Plus they had masks. MASKS. More on that later....

One of the main themes of the weekend, to me, was that it was possible to throw an event this big without having to go super-corporate. Sure, we had Pabst on board, but when are they NOT down to sponsor a messenger event? Their reps hang out with us at Bnb's!! They didn't even care about signage; we had to prod them to give us their logos! And Raleigh didn't even need a booth at the course. So that meant all the other sponsors were completely grassroots. Little local companies, including us (if you think we're "big" or anywhere near Timbuk, Bailey, or Chrome as far as our bottom line, you are very very wrong), Fabric Horse, Giant Dwarf, Jetsetter, Gerikmade, Outlaw Print co., Jumpstart Printing, Print Liberation, Printcrafters, Bicycle Therapy, Bicycle Revolutions, Vespid Couriers (yes, Philly's smallest - and only independent - messenger company was also the ONLY one to step up and help out with the race), Firehouse Bikes...if I forgot anybody I'm sure I'll remember them before I'm done writing. Anyway, here's Mami rocking a Giant Dwarf hat. Vegan Steven in the background.

The big thing about these events is that along with the racing, and the parties, it's also a big family reunion. Sometimes you only see your friends from around the globe once a year at the Worlds or the Naccc's or Euro championships. Extended family is really important. And Esher only wears gold on special occasions. He's pictured here with his daughter Keirin.

Now that they're gone, everybody all over the city is like "hey, are they still here? When are they coming back?". I can go away for two weeks and no response; these guys come for a week and turn the city upside down. That's how they roll. The Minato family; Aika and Yume traveling with style on the tray of the Bilenky cargo bike.

Can we just say it right now: Aika and Yume Minato are going to be international stars. Anywhere near a camera, these two go crazy. Hats by Giant Dwarf, shirts and skirts by Depot.

They even got their photos in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They were cheering on the sidelines with pompoms. I'd post the pic, but who knows if the Inky will get mad about that....

These two don't even really complain about anything anymore, even though they're only 4 and 6 years old. If they get bored, they just act out a made-up play or something. Even the most stubborn bachelors are like "maybe i DO want kids".....I've never heard more ladies utter the words "oh my god!" in one 48-hour span.

ok, we'll stop for now. Back to adults.

Here's Bryan and Heather from Bicycle Revolutions. Bryan built all of the prize wheels. Level sent us two hubsets and two rear hub "kits" (extra cogs were included), but due to their recent west coast relocation and an inept shipping service, they weren't able to get us the hubs until a few days before the race. Bryan went ahead and got it done anyway, which is really going above and beyond any expectations. He also hosted one of the art crawl events. Oh, and I should thank Velocity for graciously donating six Deep V rims for the wheelsets to be built with.

The reload checkpoint had the best volunteers, straight up. Here's Cecily, Megan, and Michelle. Seriously, let me thank EACH AND EVERY volunteer who showed up at any point in the weekend to help out with anything at all. You guys are the best! Anybody who gave any volunteer a hard time, may your tires be forever flat. Side note: when we woke up to torrential rain and winds on Saturday, the organizers got together and decided that it would be best to delay the start of the race a few hours, since the weather was expected to get slightly better. We also decided that, out of courtesy, we would call up all the registered racers to let them know that they could sleep a little later, and to prevent them from standing in the rain by themselves at an early hour. We did this all with maybe 3 volunteers (including myself), on our own personal cellphone bills. And some racers actually YELLED at us for calling them in the morning! Sorry, i guess it would have been better to let you ride out to the course during a hurricane and wait three hours for us to show up. Believe me, I had better things to do myself too.

Oh man I love the concept of the Messenguerilla race. An alleycat inside of a championship event. Brilliant. The rules were simple: 1) put on the mask, 2) be sure to follow the rules of the event while competing in the messenguerilla part, 3) have fun and wreak havoc. Cory Hilliard (Vespid owner AND rider) aka "the Brown Hornet" doing all of the above.

More on the finals...and the parties.....later on.


msgr33 said...

Oh damn am I ever kicking myself for not getting back to Philly for the NACCC. That looked liks such good time.

I was too busy hanging out in a strip club and filming lesbians make out. Not actually as exciting as it seems.

Donna Tocci said...

Great recap! I'm sorry we missed it (well, except the monsoon part...), but happy to help out, as always.
Those little girls are too, too cute!
Congrats on a great event!