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.”
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.