If it isn't obvious already, I've been gathering a list of cities I'd love to live in. NYC, Portland, Seattle, Austin...
And Chicago just made the list.
It really should be on there already; my best friend is at UChicago, and she's always telling me about her incredible vintage finds. But her horror stories of the Windy City weather also had me clutching my radiator in icy fear, not to mention pictures of the Tour Da Chicago. Boston's cold enough for me, I thought, and even Kanye couldn't lure me out to Chi City.
But apparently, the cyclists out there are among the nation's best. Or at least the couriers are.
And they're some of the nicest, too. Looking the farthest thing from a genuine courier, I slyly infiltrated a NACCC party Saturday night at Harper's Ferry, PBR Tallboy in hand, Baileyworks thrown over my shoulder. Good thing DJ Mayhem [a.k.a. Jason] was on the decks [until a random metal band started playing], Geekhouse was in attendance, and I managed to bump into Meghan, one of the funniest girls to throw a leg over a top tube. All of which resulted in me actually getting drunk. And dancing.
And even making new friends! Turns out Meghan was hosting four couriers from Chicago, and in a weird turn of events, I was already Facebook friends with one of them. The only out-of-towners I met this past weekend, they were the antithesis of the judgmental hipster courier stereotype. And milling outside Harper's Ferry after we all got kicked out, bike in hand, I even got asked if I had ever raced my bike 'cross - possibly the last question I ever expected during NACCC.
No surprise, then, that Chicago was already earning big points in my book by the end of the night. Sunday morning, lacking any official NACCC volunteer status, I took Jason up on his generous invitation to hang out at Superb, one of the race checkpoints. Tom was acting as a dispatcher and as couriers flowed in and out, I snapped pictures furiously. Bikes of all shapes and sized rolled through, couriers dressed in everything from Sidis to Chucks, and maps and crumpled manifests were pulled out of Ortlieb, Chrome, and Baileyworks bags.
With open roads and random manifests, there was no way to tell who was winning. And it wasn't until later that night, at the Middle East Downstairs, that I learned that Chicago had not only taken both top male and female courier wins, but that a female courier from Chi City had won best overall. And while I didn't get a picture of this history-making champion, I was fortunate enough to already call Nico, the top male courier for 2009, a [new] friend.
Which makes Chicago that much more appealing. And late Sunday night, goodbye hugs were dispensed, and promises to get in touch if I ever visit Chicago were made. True, the likelihood of getting my butt over there [along with a bike] before full blown winter is slight to none. But I've got that city in my sights; and with a track just north of the city, I'm finding it hard not to book a flight to Chi town, stat. I'll see you guys soon, though. I promise.
[Thanks to Jacobs, Croth, BBMA, and all the volunteers and sponsors that made this year's NACCC an awesome success!]