Friday 8/30/96 - Monday 9/2/96

The Bicycle Messengers of San Francisco are eager to share our city as the site of the 4th annual CYCLE MESSENGER WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS to celebrate global friendships and understanding within the world community of cycle couriers, and beyond. The love of bicycling and the undertaking of a tough and challenging profession compose the language which engenders this celebration. In keeping with bicycle advocacy, the organizers of the 1996 CMWC shall donate any surplus proceeds to bicycle related charities, education and environmental concerns utilizing the bicycle to make the world a kinder place. An example of one is Bicycles for Afghan Amputees Rehabilitation, founded by longtime SF messenger Howard Williams.

The Events:

The CMWC '96 SF race committee is comprised of messengers who have attended prior CMWCs. We are striving to establish a fair and challenging race devoted to sparking messengers' professional skills. We hope to give the competitors a taste of an SF courier's typically windy, hilly day through some of the most celebrated sites San Francisco has to offer.

Throughout the Labor Day Weekend, participants will be entertained by SF messengers' offerings in music, art and film. Guided bicycle tours of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area will be offered - both on road and off, highlighting the natural, historic and cultural diversity of the Bay Area.

Accomodations will be provided by the organizers of the event. One of two options will be established: a Camp Courier, either in one of SF's piers or in a warehouse along the Third Street Corridor; and/or couch-surfing within SF's already established cycling community. Information pamphlets will be sent upon receipt of registration fees in order to set up housing situations. Our headquarters will be (hu)manned to provide information upon arrival.

THE EVENING OF AUGUST 30th (Friday): Critical Mass/World Welcome Party

Participants are invited to join in San Francisco's Critical Mass, established in 1992 to promote bicycle awareness. It is a "spontaneous" bike ride "home" from the Financial District. Everyone meets at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street near the World Trade Center and Ferry Building to take a ride through the city streets surrounded by bicycling companions and accompanied by SF's Finest (police on bikes). This particular Mass will be held in honor of the CMWC and will process our international and national guests "home" to the WORLD WELCOME PARTY. Participants countries will be recognized. Old global friendships will be rekindled while new ones are forged amid music, bike comparisons, battle stories, the love of bicycles and respect for each other.

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AUGUST 31st and SEPTEMBER 1st: Preliminary Heats

An expected 800-900 couriers from over 26 nations and all over the United States will be organized into heats to determine their placement in the Championship Race. A closed course weaving through city streets downtown - up some of SF's steepest hills and down the same - will challenge the legs and most highly carbo-loaded metabolisms. The course is designed to measure wits, agility, thinking en-route, strength, endurance, client relations and patience. Egos will wrestle with gravity on those hills whether cycling up or down. Placement will be measured in points. Points are established on levels of acheivement, i.e., cumbersome packages, hills reached, speed maintained, etc.

Old Git Class: If time is any kind of measurement - 10 years makes an Old Git. Some have retired the bike as money maker but not their alacrity. The race will be the same; but respect must be paid to the elders of every society through recognition and special treatment. Though it would not be a surprise if an Old Git rolls away with the title.

Client Class: Civilians who romanticize about the profession and have dreampt of doing it will have an opportunity to weigh their guts in a special heat in which the winners will head off to the finals - maybe prompting a career change or a renewed interest in the one they've already got.


These events will take place in an "arena" near the Start/Finish line.

Walker race using a handtruck: Paper in quantity is quite heavy as a grounded messenger can attest. Those people who have discovered the nuances of curb, crack and crest of sidewalks get their chance to prove it.

Fixed Gear: Grace, agility, speed and control and of course riding backwards will be showcased for the panel of judges.

Basket Bikes: Baskets filled with big heavy boxes, tight turns - poetry in motion.

Trials: On BMX or standard bikes (there is a guy in London who does this on a fixed gear road bike) messengers will climb, jump and whatever else on a course of "naturally" occurring urban objects.


The Final Race, or Championships, will be held. The same course will be used, but the race will be longer, more grueling and more labor-intensive. In addition, several categories of racing will add flesh to the profession for the uneducated observer, including:

Sprint: Carbo-loading, muscular thighs and good elbowing tactics pay off.

Cargo Bike: 2-wheel, 3-wheel and anyone brave enough to load 200 lbs (90 kilos) onto their bike and body, compete to arrive intact first.


The Awards Ceremony will be held near the Start/Finish line. The main awards will include:

Cycle Messenger World Champion Male and Female (1,2,3)
Team Championship (1,2,3)
Old Git Class (1,2,3) Client Class (1,2,3) Prizes for the above-mentioned side events (1,2,3 for each)
best costume
most fashionable
coolest bike
craziest bike
and whatever special silliness gets noticed during the weekend. The ceremony will acknowledge the sponsors, and we welcome the advantages it may provide to them.


After the races are over and the awards given, the CMWC will honor our many collegues who have died while on the job (or shortly after going home). The profession of bicycle messengering ironically gives and takes friends. All those present will be given an opportunity to personally acknowledge or conjure up a friend who is gone.


A bicycle fair atmosphere will entertain observers and waiting contestants near the Start/Finish line. Concessions will offer the finest in bicycle frames, parts, accessories and fashion. We have also invited a variet of related industries to take part: skateboard, snowboard and record companies and a few surprise guests. A gluttonous array of international cuisine will round out the fair. A costume contest and best dressed bike contest will range the weekend. Bands will be playing at local venues in CMWC sponsored concerts to give the world messengers some after dark entertainment. There will also be a Messenger Museum housing both art by messengers and courier memorabilia.

Some Specifics:

Saturday August 31st and Sunday September 1st - 8:30am -3:30pm
heat length: 30 minutes
maximum # of contestants: 900
maximum # per heat: 50
maximum # of heats per day: 8

Monday September 2nd - 10:30am-1:00pm
race length: 90 minutes (1.5 hours)
who gets to the finals: the top 10% (top 5) from each heat
how many: ~100 racers

*the CMWC '96 SF is a Not-For-Profit Organisation dedicated to improving public awareness of the use of the bicycle within the urban environment as a viable means of transportation indispensable to commerce as well as a great joy ride. We hope to accomplish this through the public exhibit of the bicycle being used in the above-mentioned ways (the CMWC and the events leading up to it). Our desire is that not only will the use of the bicycle in the urban environment be increased, but that the respect and public awareness for cyclists will also increase leading to greater safety and cycling conditions, not to mention a greener world. We hope to inform the public about Bicycle Messengers in order to develop a sense of appreciation for the service they provide. In acheiving this, messengers hope to dispel the negative image that shrouds them in a romantic vision as outlaw cyclists conducting themselves solely by the rules of reckless abandon.

Cycle Messenger World Championships 1996 San Francisco
1095 Market St. #216 c/o Timbuk2 Designs San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-cmwc Fax (415) 864-0823 WWW