Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

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IMG_6480“It’s a hard city to ride in. Taxi drivers. One-way streets. ARGH! Liverpool is not a fun city.”

Adam Jones, AKA Chickn, is letting off steam. But, really, we don’t believe a word of it. Nah, he loves it. You can tell. The mean streets of L1, the cobbles of William Brown Street, the alleyways of the Commercial District. He laps them up for breakfast.

You’ll have seen Chickn, attempting to cross the roads of the city. He’s Liverpool’s busiest cycle courier. And he’s the star of an engaging little documentary that’s just crossed our path.

Liverpool videographer, George Ellis (pic r) recently captured a strange and singular sporting event that took place one unseasonably bitter weekend, as cycle couriers from Vauxhall to Vancouver sped around our streets, partied hard in sweaty basements, and generally proved that our lives are a little bit less exciting than theirs.

“I love great, short documentaries about stuff that should be exposed to the public,” Ellis says of his latest project, capturing the subculture of the cycle courier.

Liverpool, should it have escaped your attention, was host for this year’s UK & Irish Cycle Courier Championships. And Chickn was in the driving seat, arranging the course, setting up the checkpoints, and generally reclaiming the streets.

“I needed someone else to experience this with me,” Chickn grins in Ellis’ supercharged account of the event.

“It was a long weekend,” Ellis (whose previous work has been Grierson shortlisted) says, “but I had one hell of a time, met some great people and saw some crazy things.”

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From the lactic acid hell of Everton Brow to the lattice of back alleys that weave their way across Hardman Street, the film traces a tenacious course through neon-bathed and rain-splashed streets. Think Tough Mudder with mud guards. The riders – most of whom sport that missing tooth-look so this season with couriers – are tasked with track stands (keeping your balance while your bike’s stuck at traffic lights), push ups, hill climbs and fiendish inner-city navigational missions.

For Ellis, a videographer at Digital Marketing Agency Ph.Creative, it was the chance to document a culture that most of us know little about. The very best material, then, for a captivating peek into a strange and fascinating world.

Away from the testosterone and toothless grins, we love how Ellis captures a team of mates who are every bit as passionate about the cities that make up their office as a tourist guide would be. At one point, Chickn, describing a particularly tricky navigation, tells a rider to look out for a big Art Deco building. Bet you’d never get that attention to detail from an Arriva bus driver.

“Worldwide it’s a massive community,” Chickn says. “I could turn up anywhere, and if I them I’m a cycle courier, Ii’ll have a place to stay, a party, and lots of stories to share.

And finally, the film gets to the truth – winkles it out of a grinning Chickn, as he announces the winners of this year’s championships.

“It’s one of the best ways to make money, being free, crusing round the city. Most people are in the office all day. By the time they’re out, they’ll not have known what a brilliant day it’s been out here.”

Ain’t that the truth.

  • Bornagainst

    You have to be kidding right?

    Hipster berks riding on the pavement in the first few seconds?

    Grow balls and ride on the road, children… any Merseyside cycling club will have 70yr old blokes who’ll tear you a new backside up any hill.

  • Me

    Yeah total bell-end cycling on the pavement action – riding wrong way into traffic – makes me really angry, gets the rest of us a bad name. Shame, cos it’s quite nicely shot.

  • Bornagainst

    Which is why, when I watch this, I can only think ‘Faker’ or ‘Bottler’.. They spend their time wearing the right jeans, but they can’t ride a bike for toffee…

    And it’s a shame that somehow this is seen as cool or underground cycling. It’s really not. Merseyside has some real cycling history, you just won’t find it here with these charlatans.

    It’s depressingly frustrating to see these dullards be given the oxygen of publicity.

  • FixedBikeRider

    Get over yourself.

  • bornagainst

    Learn to ride. Properly.

  • TJ

    Ignore the haters… Chickin is a legend, and these are proper Cycle messengers.

  • ;)

    those blinking lights they have on their bikes are illegal on the road in the uk

  • Fixed

    You are wrong there, they changed that law over 10 years ago!

  • Spazbox

    All EU standard lights are now legal, not just British Standard ones. Gone are the days of halogen and in are the days of flashing LEDs.

    Good try though.

  • vancouversfinestmessenger

    Had a great time in your tiny village full of deep fried chicken spots and stretched spandex high healed PHD candidates! Broke all your traffic laws and rode everyplace without lights and probably drunk! Thanks Chickn again, legend.

  • Ffwd

    Pahaha! Can’t ride for toffee? It’s all we do mate! Only reason were on the pavements is its a fucking race, this is the fastest you’ll ever have to ride. Have your lame opinions but don’t ever call me slow bitch! One of the best uk messenger events ever, Chickin did this for his love of the game, a true messenger hero. You guys really have no idea what you’re on about, but hey haters gon hate, players gon play :)

  • chickin

    want to race?

  • bornagainst

    If we did have a race, I don’t think you’d stick to the rules! ;-)

    But riding a bike doesn’t have to be a race, and I’m an old man!
    I’m sure it’s possible that we can, like, ride a bike from A to B and do it in a way that doesn’t make all cyclists looks like 2-wheeled sub-Corsa-driving-boy-racer-wankers.

  • chainlube

    Dreary, tiresome, trendy self righteous, show-off wankers, get the **** off the pavements