Tuesday, 22 March 2011

You'll never be as cool as...

Bike Messengers. The superheroes of the cycling world. All cyclists try to have their own style and I guess in our own eyes we are pretty cool - but none of us compare to messengers. Not even close, Those guys take it to a whole new level. Especially if they work in an iconic uber-city like London, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris or the centre of the world, in the bike messenger universe, New York.

Don't get it? Don't agree? Just watch this short on 'Squid', the 'Poo-Ma' sponsored bike messenger, the best damn bike messenger in NYC.

He's got it all, the super cool fixie, the fashionably unkempt wardrobe, the perfectly individual nickname, the equally cool and like-minded buddies, the Champion "nothing soft comes out of the Bronx" accent, and best of all - the carefree attitude that gives the big finger to society and says "I don't care that I'm earning just above minimum wage, I ride a bike all day, and I get paid for it, so f*** you!" See, I told you, bike messengers, like Squid, are cool, and you'll never be as cool as Squid. Period.

Cyclists are a fragmented bunch, we identify with one discipline in particular and tend to stick with our own, and sometimes have a rivalry with other sub-groups. Roadies clash with Mountain Bikers, Mountain Bikers clash with Contraption Captains, and Contraption Captains clash with Everyone. But for some reason we all love messengers, It's like they have political immunity, and everyone likes them. They're like the Dutch, everyone loves them, and wants to be their friend - and in doing so, maybe briefly get exposed to the exclusive bike messenger sub-culture.

Not only do we want to be their friend, we want to wear what they wear, carry what they carry, and ride what they ride. We wear our stupid little cycling caps because messengers made them cool, we carry overpriced Crumpler satchels because messengers made them cool and, you guessed it, we ride fixies because messengers made them cool. Hell, fixies are now so cool that the uber-cool hipster sub-culture one day had a meeting and unanimously voted to make the fixie bike their trademark.

So... why? Why have they been elevated to this god like status? Why do you command instant street cred if you, at one time or another, did a stint as a messenger. Well, I don't know, I have no answers, but what I can tell you is a few things to make you feel a little better: 1. Those little cycling caps messengers wear everywhere are stupid, they serve only to sap up sweat underneath your helmet and if you wear one to your local bar I assure you most people are staring at you with pity in their eyes 2. Satchels just don't work, if you ride anything more than 5 km's for your daily commute you'll know that a satchel constantly swinging around your shoulder just pisses you off - a compact backpack is the go, and 3. Fixies are completely impractical - yeah they look cool, but no gears and no brakes just doesn't work if you're going any further than the local pub to sink some longnecks with your equally hirsute hipster buddies.

So, we may not be as cool as Squid, but maybe practical can be cool, maybe there are some cool elements in all types of cycling. Well, any element that doesn't include the lycra. Lycra is necessary... but definitely not cool.

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