Cuttin Crew 2017 Team Roster
Photos by Christopher Dilts
Cuttin Crew For Life
Darrell Van Essen
About The Team
by Andrew Nordyke, 2014
Around this time, five-no wait, six years ago, I called up a handful of friends during the middle of a courier shift. There was something that I knew was on all our minds, and that needed to be said.
For years, we had raced against each other in messenger-run street races, engaging in battles of wits, legs, lungs, and reaction time. Afterwards, we would come together to recount the excitement, celebrate the victor, share some food, and drink some beers (Mike Morell claims to have invented the beer-mosa after an early 2000's Tour da Chicago stage). The next day, exhausted, sore, and probably a little dehydrated, most of us would hop on a bike and ride downtown to deliver packages.
We had tried to find our way into sanctioned racing with one of the larger clubs, and while full of great minds, talents, and resources, we still couldn't get over the disconnect we felt while having to introduce ourselves to a new teammate, at every start line we toed. "Every man/woman for themselves," was the type of racing we were used to, but a team sacrifices the individual for the pride of raising their banner. A team has intimate knowledge of each others strengths and weaknesses, and they rely on this familiarity to know how and when to play their cards. We knew that, within the world of bike racing, we held a unique set of skills.
Six years ago, in a drafty industrial warehouse on Hubbard Street (Adam Clark lived in the old 80 sq ft manager's office), we got together and voiced both our discontents for the way things were and our passionate calls for the way they ought to be. That night, a small handful of friends resolved to form the Chicago Cuttin' Crew (though we were extremely close to calling ourselves "Mayor Daley's Race-Winning Task Force"). The name had its roots in the messenger community and street racing scene, but we wanted to raise the banner into new territory. We wanted to work together, to sacrifice the individual, to show the world what the Chicago Cuttin' Crew stood for.
We've come a long way in the past six years. The Chicago Cuttin' Crew jersey has been seen racing (off the top of my head here) throughout the Chicagoland area, up through Milwaukee, across rural Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Toronto, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Guatemala, Dublin, Tokyo, and Warsaw. These days, the jersey can still be seen zipping its way through downtown traffic. But you'll also find it on the backs of a couple architects, a graphic designer, a computer/IT whiz for Northwestern, a junior high student, a hair stylist, someone working to provide quality education for inner-city youth, a bouncer at a bar that spins the best soul music in the city, a newly licensed paramedic, an artist/pedicab owner/operator, a special-ed teacher, a bike shop owner, a USAC licensed mechanic, someone who just signed a 2 year contract to be sponsored by a major energy drink for his involvement and dedication to the international messenger community (can I reveal that yet?), a couple-two-tree fathers, those holding degrees in psychology, sociology, journalism, gender-women studies…
We're a diverse group these days, but our core philosophy has not changed, and we still ride our hearts out whenever we toe that line. None of this would be possible without those whose logos we proudly bear on our jerseys. We've had some amazing sponsors throughout the years, a handful who've been with us since the beginning (Bari Foods, Architrave,4 Star Courier Collective, Yojimbos Garage), those that hopped aboard a couple two-tree years in and continue to support (Wellness Chicago, Lawyer Jim Freeman/Freeman Kevenides Law Firm, SportCrafters), and those that have given a year here, a year there (Kuma's Corner, Pickens Kane, Boss Photo, 426 Brand, Chicago Freedom School, Apex Courier, GK Snacks), and sadly those that aren't with us anymore (Mr. Daniel T Blue, international man of mystery and adventure, who said to just put The Hideout's logo on our jersey after meeting us at the bar, feeling a kinship for what we represented, and asking where he could send a check to).
Sponsor funds help to get us out there on that start line. They enable us to stand tall on the podium, and raise the banner of the Chicago Cuttin Crew, with all that it represents. We love this town, and we are proud to fly the colors of those whose values align with ours. If you'd like to hop aboard and help us get to the races or know someone who might, shoot us an email: chicagocuttincrew[at]gmail.com
Background image by Luke Seeman