This weekend there are a number of huge cycling events. In Europe is the 14th, European Cycle Messenger Championships (ECMC) in Berlin from May 28th-June 1st.
Cycle couriers from around Europe and the world will be riding, racing and living it up in the great cycling city of Berlin, Germany in true courier championship flavor.
I had a chance to talk to Cremer, a former messenger over there to get an idea about this event and who exactly is coming to town.
Name, Age, Where you live?
Achim “akeem” Cremer, 31, Berlin
What bikes do you own?
Trackbike (Lueders, made in Berlin), Serrota CSI road bike, GT Zaskar MTB
Are you a messenger and if so for how long and for what company?
Not any more, started december 1998, 3 yrs in Freiburg, Germany, 4 months NYC, 3 yrs Berlin. Companies: Per Velo, NY minute, Spinning Wheelz Berlin, messenger Berlin
What other European countries have bike messengers?
Almost all. I know of Messenger Companies in: Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Holland, UK, Scotland, Ireland, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary… I’m not sure about Belarus, Bulgaria, Slovenija, Romania, Greece, Italy, Portugal…
What is it like being a courier in Berlin?
Berlin is big and flat. Depending on the company you work with, you either have a lot of short runs or few long runs. There’s a lot of space on the streets, car drivers generally see you and rather brake than hit you. Most of the times. Berlin neighborhoods are very different, lots of construction going on, so the city always changes. that makes it interesting. Also, every neighborhood fells different, traffic flows differently
What is the ECMC and how does it differ from the CMWC?
ECMC was founded later, besides that there’s no big difference. US and people from other continents as well come to participate, couriers don’t take the whole “nation-thing” too serious.
When did Europe decide to have their own championship?
Honestly, i have no clue.
How does a host city for the CMC get decided?
There are “open-forums” at every CMC, the host-cities to come pitch there. Then the couriers who attend make a decision.
How did it come to be in Berlin?
I guess no one else really placed a bid.
What other CMC have been hosted in Berlin and since the first CMWC was here in 93 how is this significant?
There was a German Championships a few years ago.
Who is coming to this event? From what countries? How many pre-registered and what is the furthest one is traveling from?
i just learned that couriers from as far away as Australia come to the ECMC. Besides that, we will have guests from almost every other country (excluding Africa, South America and Asia/India)
How has the city of Berlin helped or hindered with the race prep?
We didn’t really talk to the city. the racecourse is private property. The Berlin police is going after track bikes (without handbrakes) these days, we hope they will back off during the ecmc.
I hear rumor of a crackdown on brakeless fixies…care to elaborate?
see above. it became a big hype the last two yrs, so the police has no choice but to go after trackbikes. everyone here is waiting for the courts to deceide what is legal and what is not,
How have people been preparing for this race?
drinking huge amounts of beer.
What kind of prep has gone into ECMC?
Hours and hours and hours. fortunately we have a lot of contacts into almost every aspect of berlin businesses and subcultures, so we are able to pull off this event with very very little money.
Where will people stay for this event?
There’s a camping ground in Berlin-mitte, we’ve dealt out a special rate. Berlin being the international city it is, most of the people who come know someone who knows someone who lives in Berlin.
What are the best courier hangouts in Berlin?
keirin at oberbaumstrasse 5, kreuzberg. Cicli Berlinetta, fehrbelliner strasse, mitte, former tempelhof-airport (may 28 to june 1st), monbijoupark, mitte. gendarmenmarkt, mitte. victoriapark, kreuzberg. mauerpark, prenzlauerberg. etc etc etc.
What kind of bikers are in Berlin?
there are: road bikers, bmxers, mtbers, fixie-riders, holland-bike-riders, cargo-bikes, motorbikes, electrobikes…. everything.
Any funny stories so far?
too many to ask for. come and experience your own private funny story. and I’m not too lazy to write. come and witness.
Anything I should have asked you?
girls? maybe? berlin girls are the most beautiful but also the most freakeds out girls on this planet.
Recently, Cremer wrote an update to the messenger list serv, on who is registered for the event.
“According to the ecmc-registration-statistics, 523 out of 723 people registered are messenger, ex-messengers and vet-class.
59 registered as polo-maniacs, 37 consider themselves as fakengers and 27 stated that “they have a crush on bike messengers”.
485 ride fixed-gear-bikes.”
Here is a recent article found by Joe Hendry of Messmedia.org.
The Local, May 27, 2009
More than 1,000 couriers from Tokyo to Oakland will descend on Berlinâ€™s Tempelhof airport this weekend for the 14th European Cycle Messenger Championship (ECMC), and defending champion Michael Brinkmann said Wednesday he is ready for them.
â€œI am more excited than ever,â€ said the 43-year-old veteran courier from Bremen, who has already pedaled through 14 German, European and world championships.
â€œI always finish in the Top 10,â€ he boasted to German wire service ddp, but his most memorable championship was the team world championship in Spain in 1997. To get there, he and his three other teammates cycled the entire 2,200 kilometres from Bremen to Barcelona.
While this race is much closer to home for Brinkmann, the three-day event, which has been running since 1993, should prove to be a challenge to any experienced messenger. The race involves a simulated day-in-the-life of a bike courier. The course is composed of one-way streets and the competitors have to pick up and deliver parcels. The cyclist who completes the deliveries in the shortest amount of time is crowned champion. Brinkmann also said the courses will probably be made more challenging with artificial sand traps and stairs.
Men and women competitors with nicknames like Golden Retriever and Tramstopper can also compete in team races, a race for cargo bikes and uphill sprints. There is even a series of competitions for fixed gear bicycles, including a bike polo tournament, which should be exciting for Swedenâ€™s Lukas â€˜Horse Polo Sucksâ€™ Keller.
None of this intimidates Brinkmann, who has been pedalling through a courier career since age 15. â€œI would like this course to be as arduous and spectacular as possible,â€ he said.
The weekend isnâ€™t all pedal â€“ couriers are just as proud of their profession as they are their lifestyle. Between races, bikers can ride a mechanical bull and eat from the Gulash Cannon. Afterparties featuring â€œmessenger bandsâ€ like Debbie Parker Inc. and karaoke/air guitar competitions will entertain the contestants, if theyâ€™re not already exhausted by the grueling races.
But Brinkmann is keeping his eye on the prize.
â€œIt would be great to bring the title to Bremen for a second time,â€ he said.
Post event in Warsaw Poland, June 5th-7th. PCMC2009