ROAD magazine — Nov/Dec 2013
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Reigning Cycle Messenger World Champion and singlespeed cyclocross crusader Craig Etheridge (Raleigh-Clement), host of the Youtube series Hot Laps, has been enlisted to tackle your questions about cycling’s colorful subculture. Etheridge is one of Seattle’s finest bike messengers, giving him an astute knowledge of commuting, cyclocross and singlespeeds. His jovial personality and legendary prowess yield unparalleled insight, both serious and irreverent, but always entertaining.

If you have a burning question, see a doctor. Then email or find him on Twitter @hotlapscraig. And scan this QR Code to watch the latest Hot Laps...

Q. I want to scream offensive, I mean, motivational things at you while you’re racing this season (and hopefully make a Hot Laps appearance). What’s your 2013/14 schedule looking like?

Here’s the deal: Season schedules are usually decided by now, but since you're dealing with fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Hot Laps Craig, you never know where I'm gonna be! I like to keep my racing schedule publicly vague so my competition doesn't see me coming. One morning you wake up thinking, "Oh boy, I feel fresh in the legs and snappy out of the saddle today! I'm gonna do great in the (insert your hometown name here) race." Then, wammo! You see that unmistakable Red Beard of GloryTM show up on the line. Uh-oh, looks like you forgot that Hot Laps Craig said he reserves the right to slay all races near and far. "Crud!" You exclaim. "Hehehe!" I exclaim. The rest is history. At least some is history, because in this scenario I've already won... in my mind. You can't take that away from me. Internal glory; the kind that really counts. After the race, you'll have plenty of time to scream all the offensive things at me you want.

Oh, you meant in a spectating kind of way. Well that's easy too. Just show up to your favorite local (insert your hometown name here) race and find the best looking racer in the field. Doesn't matter really which category since this practice spans the ability gap. As soon as the gun/whistle/woot-woot/light/ball-drop/finger snap goes off, you scream "HOT LAPS!!!!!!!!" At this person for the entire race. If they respond by report of "HOT LAPS!!!" Right back at ya, you've found a true "Hot Lapper". If they give you a bewildered and blank stare (people in 'cross have been known to have this expression) then move on to another racer. When a connection is made, a truly beautiful thing has happened! You can thank me later for your new best friend.

Thanks for the question. Bikes are the best!

~Hot Laps Craig

Q. I just started delivering sandwiches for Jimmy John's but I need a new whip. Would you recommend a CX bike for the city?

Here’s the deal: Listen, Jimmy. I'd recommend you ride whatever you're most comfortable with. The "right bike" choice can be a daunting task to a newcomer in the delivery world, and you're going to need to start paying attention to a lot more things out there now that you've got the words "Freaky" and/or "Serious" confusingly written on your back. There seems to be a whole lot riding (get it?) On those sandwiches, because what I've noticed from my mere 9 years of messenger experience is that sandwich delivery is by far the most hectic (maybe that's the "freaky" part) and worth-dying-for (must be the "serious" side) type of delivery service ever.

Take a note from someone who has managed to stay alive through nearly a decade of daily street riding: you should be comfortable with your equipment. This can mean a number of things. Dial in that bike – excuse me – whip. Not only will it give you a piece of mind throughout the day, but a proper functioning rig (I did it again! – whip!) Will translate to more $andwiches in more mouths in your zone. I assume you're working in zones right? There must be some mathematical matrix that determines which of your multiple dispatch centers, excuse me, sandwich creation stations, gets the order. Take time to adjust that sucker too. If something feels a little off, then it probably is. I can't tell you how many times a different length stem or width handlebar has made a huge difference of the fit of my "whip". That actually sounds kinda dirty. You get what I'm sayin?!

So basically, a CX bike is perfect!

Thanks for the question. Bikes are the best!

~Hot Laps Craig