photo by Patchen Preston

By now all participants in and witnesses to the 2011 North American Cycle Courier Championships, presented by Chrome, should be safely ensconced and well enough rested in their respective corners of Austin and the continent to review the events with some clarity. First of all, thanks must be given to the sponsors for their help in making it all go down.

NACCC festivities kicked off on Saturday, October 1st in Houston with a pre-event race and bar crawl. The race, held in a quiet starfish-shaped seam on the edge of the Montrose grid, was fun and fast and won by Austin’s own John Trujillo. The bar crawl traversed more southerly sectors of the ‘Trose, was hilarious, and was won by all.

Monday dawned on a steep to-do list for NACCC organizers and on an 180-mile northwest run out of Houston for a four-piece of East Coasters on bikes. The group split into two factions, possibly in the far west suburbs of H-Town, with one (NY, Philly) arriving midday Tuesday, the other (NY, Boston) arriving separately. Other folks trickled into Austin midweek via airplane or automobile, with some attending cyclocross races on Wednesday evening, crits on Thursday evening, and Dirty 6th hospitality late each night.

The weather Friday was amazing and scattered groups cruised the city during the day, usually landing in Barton Springs on either side of the dam and either side of a heavy…er hearty Texas meal. Multitudes were amassed at the welcome party/registration at Cheer Up Charlie’s and across the street at Fast Folks when the sun began to drop. People rode bikes through downtown in the fading light and took photos on the Pfluger Bridge. People rode bikes through downtown in the dark and took mugshots. Fast Folks shot portraits at the bar while DJ I Wanna Be Her made it funky on the patio. Due to a scheduling conflict, Texas Gold Sprint’Em rolled unamplified in the side yard, style and presentation otherwise intact, with multiple heats of head-to-head stationary sprints (check the NACCC FB page for the Gold Sprint’Em prize situation).

photos by Patchen Preston

Temporary racks did the trick for the piles of bicycles and their easy-to-assemble construction was accommodating when bike lock keys were lost. The Cheer Ups door guy was accommodating when bike locks were lost. Two more cyclists arrived at some point after a nonstop shot out of the Space City.

During Saturday’s qualifying heats at the Driveway, racers cruised around the course fast enough to pull water out of the sky. One hundred thirty registrants completed one manifest of 14 pick-and-drops between ten checkpoints that provided not only pickups and P.O.D.s, but amenities as varied as lipstick, beer, and Afrobeat. Low, grey, sodden clouds kept things cool but also soaked more than a few racers, volunteers, and spectators.

Later that night Red 7 hosted a party which, given the fatigue edging in, was attended by a surprising majority of NACCC participants. Goldsprints had to be cancelled and would-be racers competed instead at the billiard and air hockey tables. Musical textures were provided on the outdoor stage by The Sideshow Tragedy, The Loblolly Boy, and Austin messenger supergroup Quick Release and inside by some guy playing records. Last call pushed everyone into the cool evening air and towards one last night of too little sleep.

Rain threatened again on Sunday but mostly spared the field of 6 female and 46 male qualifying racers. This day they needed to complete 3 manifests as quickly as possible in order to get a crack at the prizes and the title. A good effort was made by all, especially four or five DFL contenders when told late in the race that they needed to complete all manifests in order to officially finish last. Things wrapped up at the Driveway in the late afternoon under heavy skies.

Later on, folks slumped out of the damp darkness of the night and into the cozy warmth of the Liberty, and then back out into the damp darkness of the night in the Liberty’s backyard for the closing party and awards ceremony. It was learned that Mason O’Neal, of Austin, won the men’s category and Christina Peck, of Chicago, won the women’s category (See full results here). Prizes gleamed in the lights of the yard and swag pirouetted gracefully into the crowd. Flash bulbs popped and giant gift certificates were exchanged. One last beer and then it was over.

photos by Patchen Preston

The main organizers of the NACCC deserve props for their hard work making this event happen. Applause. All the folks that traveled from out of town deserve thanks for making the journey. Gracias. Thank you sponsors. Richmond next year. CMWC in Chicago.

Check NACCC photo galleries at: Patchen Preston’s Flickr collection, Gideon Tsang’s Flickr collection, John Prolly’s coverage, Chrome checkpoint portraits, Jealex Photo’s Flickr set.

The 2011 North American Cycle Courier Championships, presented by Chrome, are going down October 7th-9th in Austin, Texas. The crew invite the messengers of the world to their town on the Colorado River for a weekend of slowly smoked, highly carbonated bicycle racing action. Expect a main race, side events, alleycat, and three nights of parties in the warm hills of central Texas.

NACCC participants have the option of shipping their bikes to sponsor Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in downtown Austin. Adding “Attn:NACCC” to the address label and notifying the organziers via will help us keep track of your bike. Help us help Mellow Johnny’s help you fight airline luggage fee price gouging!

Check out footage from the 2008 main race:

Meet John: