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Bike couriers rolling into Berlin for championship

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Bike couriers rolling into Berlin for championship
File photo: DPA
11:40 CEST+02:00
More than 1,000 couriers from Tokyo to Oakland will descend on Berlin's Tempelhof airport this weekend for the 14th European Cycle Messenger Championship (ECMC), and defending champion Michael Brinkmann said Wednesday he is ready for them.

“I am more excited than ever,” said the 43-year-old veteran courier from Bremen, who has already pedaled through 14 German, European and world championships.

“I always finish in the Top 10,” he boasted to German wire service ddp, but his most memorable championship was the team world championship in Spain in 1997. To get there, he and his three other teammates cycled the entire 2,200 kilometres from Bremen to Barcelona.

While this race is much closer to home for Brinkmann, the three-day event, which has been running since 1993, should prove to be a challenge to any experienced messenger. The race involves a simulated day-in-the-life of a bike courier. The course is composed of one-way streets and the competitors have to pick up and deliver parcels. The cyclist who completes the deliveries in the shortest amount of time is crowned champion. Brinkmann also said the courses will probably be made more challenging with artificial sand traps and stairs.

Men and women competitors with nicknames like Golden Retriever and Tramstopper can also compete in team races, a race for cargo bikes and uphill sprints. There is even a series of competitions for fixed gear bicycles, including a bike polo tournament, which should be exciting for Sweden's Lukas ‘Horse Polo Sucks' Keller.

None of this intimidates Brinkmann, who has been pedalling through a courier career since age 15. “I would like this course to be as arduous and spectacular as possible,” he said.

The weekend isn't all pedal – couriers are just as proud of their profession as they are their lifestyle. Between races, bikers can ride a mechanical bull and eat from the Gulash Cannon. Afterparties featuring “messenger bands” like Debbie Parker Inc. and karaoke/air guitar competitions will entertain the contestants, if they're not already exhausted by the grueling races.

But Brinkmann is keeping his eye on the prize.

“It would be great to bring the title to Bremen for a second time,” he said.

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