page 40-41, Issue #5
– Mark Pilder
photos by Kevin Spiegel and Morrispost Productions
Here’s a little story ‘bout a man named Craig,
Craig is a bike messenger. He works for KNR, a relatively small crew of independently contracted messengers that cover the greater Seattle area on bikes and the Puget Sound area with the help of a few driving messengers. If you’re in Ballard or West Seattle or Madison Park and you see a bike messenger, there’s a good chance it’s a KNR messenger. They go long, they go everywhere. Which means Craig gets some miles in at work, unlike core-bound legal messengers, who bounce around the courthouse all day.
If you’ve raced your bike in the past year you’ve probably seen him, and seen him gather in the loot when the prizes are handed out. Craig has won a lot of alley cat races. And collected enough prizes and schwag to fill a two-bedroom apartment. Ask him about his messenger bag collection, or his bike collection. I’ve seen him win a few races and heard about him winning many more. He’s competitive and he’s fast but he’s also a good sport.
Craig is also a bike racer, in the UCI-USCF sense of the word, and as he puts it, he is slowly chipping away at the old timers, the overly serious racing establishment, and starting to gain their respect. You know the guys, the guys that never smile, the guys with their hardcore poker faces on, the guys who have been around for years and aren’t quite sure what to make of this guy. I don’t know much about racing bikes but I know that Craig is getting people’s attention out there. If they don’t know his name yet, they recognize him and soon they’ll know his name. Then it’s just a matter of time before they’ll start to shake his hand and chat him up and welcome him into the mix. He is, by the way, the 2006 Washington State Champion in Cyclocross single speed. In the not too distant future when Craig starts getting his name called out over the loud speaker, getting called up to the line at the start of races, as a points leader in the series, or as a racer of distinction, or as an all-around badass, you’ll see him smiling and joking and laughing and shaking hands and being the friendly guy he has always been. Looking relaxed and cheerful. You may even hear him call for a brownie and a glass of milk before the race.
Craig is the guy that will pass you going up a steep hill on his single speed, but he’ll say a few words, laugh, sing a song or hold a conversation completely calm and seemingly never out of breath, oblivious to the fact that the hill is killing you and everyone else. He’ll share a joke, then he’ll drop you.
A couple years ago, in the Volunteer Park Crit, Craig got caught behind a crash early in the race. The peloton got a big gap on the stragglers. Craig raced on solo in no-man’s land for several laps, holding off a chase group of eight guys working together, and they couldn’t gain any ground on him. All of them eventually got pulled by the officials, but Craig’s individual effort was impressive, especially because he was riding his old steel messenger work bike with lots of spoke cards and maybe even full fenders.
Craig, this season, will be racing in the Open/Pro category for Mountain Bikes, Cat 3 on the Track, Cat 4 on the Road and Cat 2 for Cyclocross. He has been upgrading at an accelerated pace, gaining points and winning races. When you’re versatile like Craig and interested in racing road, track and mountain bikes, there is some overlap in the seasons, some conflict and he has to make some choices and sacrifices. If there’s a mountain bike race on Saturday as well as a crit, Craig prefers the mountain bike racing and will skip the crit. If there wasn’t this overlap and conflict, I’m guessing he’d be up in the Cat 3’s on the road by now too. You can follow his success and progress on the AVA Counterbalance Racing website.