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It takes a combination of skill and experience to make it as a messenger in Chicago. It takes determination to be the best in the world.
Nico Deportago-Cabrera has it all.
The 28-year-old bike messenger from Bucktown has consistently placed in the Top 20 in both national and international championships for bike messengers since 2009. Although this year he sat out the Cycle Messenger World Championships, which were held in Chicago from Aug. 2-5, he said the winner of that event should consider himself the best in the world.
Last year, Deportago-Cabrera placed seventh in the competition, which was held in Warsaw, Poland.
"It's understood that these championships are not easy to win. They're designed in a way where it takes a strong courier to race," he said.
Deportago-Cabrera, who designed this year's race in the south parking lot of Soldier Field, said cyclists from around the world navigate a mock streetscape and make deliveries just as they would on the job.
In all, 14 men and two women from Chicago took spots in the top 100 this year, out of a field of about 375 overall. Chicago messenger Mike Morell placed highest, coming in 17th.
"It's a big deal," Deportago-Cabrera said. "To a lot of us, it's a validation of how hard we work every day."
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