Last Friday we set out for that great city in the north, Carrie, Mary and honorary FH Abbey "Snakes" Gunn. See Abbey above modelling our hot new ladies' tank. We stayed til Monday, ate lots of snacks, made some friends, broke some hearts. You know, the usual.
Finally though today, I'm happy to report that Toronto was pretty awesome. As a city, we found it friendly and inviting, despite being somewhat expensive. There were trolleys, to keep us from homesickness, with tracks as far as the eye could see to keep us on our toes. There were hippie girls singing into carrots, strip clubs offering European lap dances, old bleach blonde and permed diner waitresses and hot dog trucks on every corner serving up vegan dogs and dozens of condiments. Oh goodness, Canada.
The festivus mostly took place on Toronto Island, which required a ferry boat to reach. The island holds significance in the city's cycling history as the location for one of the first outdoor cycling tracks. This allowed for much bonding time and camaraderie, as you might imagine. Friendships were forged, sea legs were gained. By Festivus, I mean the CMWC's...Cycle Messenger World Championships. Maybe you are wondering the same thing the folks at border control were wondering. What exactly does that entail? Well from the organizers' brain to your eyes:
Basically a competition for messengers the WORLD over coming together to run a course of checkpoints and have lots of fun and celebrate the glory. The event's taken place in various cities since 1993. The race takes place on a closed course that is sanctioned by the International Federation of Bike Messengers Associations (IFBMA). And most competitors are bike messengers but the weekend's events were open to everyone. And no cars on the island, did I mention that? Which made the race a lot safer, albeit less like actual messengering. The island is home to a small community of permanent and deliberate carfree residents.
CMWC is a world championship sporting event, but it is also a world festival celebrating messenger culture and its broad influence on modern urban culture. CMWC hosts a variety of related galas, shows, parties and vendor markets where spectators mingle with messengers to get a jump on the latest bike trends and urban utilitarian fashion. The side events showcase the artistic, photographic, musical and literary talents of the world’s hardest working professional athletes.
Because this was a business trip, ahem, we didn't get to watch the actual racing quite as much as we would have liked, but the course snaked all over the island and we could glimpse it through the trees from our tent spot. We were in the Vendor Market with RELoad and across from other Philadelphians, Bilenky Cycle Works.
There were several other events taking place as part of the Championships: 300 Meter Sprints, a Cargo Race, Bunny Hop Competition, Skids, Track Stands, a Slow Race, a Pedal Boat Race and a Bike Polo Tournament. In other words, lots of people doing lots of things, all at once.
I'm not suprised that Toronto was named Bicycle Magazine's Most Bicycle-Friendly City in North America. I found it both bikable and friendly. You might say we had a pretty good time. Got a tan, got stormed on, saw two rainbows, got detained at border control inexplicably, and made it home in one piece. A success.