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31 May 2011 No comments
Staying at the top of your game for a quarter century in any field of human endeavour is a milestone justifiably worth making a bit of noise about. To do so in a line of work where many who try their hand don't show up for their second day can be described as almost without precedent. And so it was that in Berlin on Friday the 13th (naturally) the assembled ranks of the German capital's couriers past and present gathered to pay homage and race in honour of Zorro's 25 years (and counting) as a King Of The Streets. Riders were permitted to race solo or in teams. There were stamps to collect at manned checkpoints, as well as traffic-sign-counting and scavenging tasks to prove you had been to, say, the car park at Ikea. There were a few novelty errands too, like returning to the start with a toy car, which got a ritual hammering from the man who everybody had come to see. Zorro doing what he does best Part of the unusual accounting following an alleycat race The near-ubiquity of fine English leather saddles atop working couriers' seatposts is possibly the most eloquent tribute to its durability that a Brooks can be paid. And of course, many cyclists looking to cut a dash on their commute also look to couriers for technical as well as sartorial pointers, which fact must account at least partly for the popularity of Brooks saddles among casual riders also. There were plenty of those at the start in the famous borough of Kreuzberg on Friday too. Nighttime street racing has long been attracting the attention of purely recreational cyclists, and Zorro has never been picky about who he rides against. The smartphone with GPS has been a boon to the hobby participant Berlin, fittingly, has a proud history of courier racing events. The first ever World Championships took place there in 1993, and as recently as 2009 it was host again, as the cream of Europe's package expediters battled for supremacy on the grounds of Tempelhof Airport. Don't forget your reading lamp at a nighttime alleycat But friday night was about a home town hero. Well, almost. Zorro (not his real name) moved to Berlin from Vancouver in 1994. Neither city being famed for its short, mild winters. In both cities, his name has been a by-word among colleagues for squeezing every last docket out of a working day. And has been for 25 years, it's worth repeating. Adverse weather conditions play seemingly no part in any job-related decision he makes. Short work, long work, early work, late work, heavy work, he generally makes light work of most of it. Typical mayhem of the start/finish desk Of course all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Zorro is as competitive after hours as he is on the clock. And when somebody else in Berlin wins an Alleycat, they often make the gracious disclaimer "Well, Zorro didn't race." Well, he didn't last Friday. Instead, he invited allcomers to try their luck at an evening of mild-to-strenuous physical exertion called "25 Years To Life". It wasn't R.S.V.P. so much as B.Y.O.B.