Adrenaline junkies, risk-takers, Mad Max outlaws - the only normal thing about a bicycle messenger is his job. By John Hind. Photographs by Robert Gallagher
"Being a courier animalises you," says Anthony, who is also known as Joe 90. "We're buzzed up on endorphins all day, cycling our tits off, like cavemen collecting food around the city, running away from T-Rexes and double-decker bus things with big tails, watching lesser ants swarm out of tube stations and thinking, `Get off the road and into the office, idiot!', shouting, `You have absolutely no respect, do you?' in taxi-drivers' windows, and having chicks staring at our crotch packets all day. It's pure adrenaline. Rrrrrrrrr. I arrive home feeling, `Yes! YES! Champion Cyclist Mad-Man of the World!'''

At least courier John Paul has his mother to go back to - after the pubs, that is. He stays on top by being a "real gear queen" about his equipment. It's only under his bicycle that he sleeps soundly. "After a day of dealing with pedestrians, 90 per cent of whom have never seen the Green Cross Code," explains "Biff" Owen, "you can carry on buzzing until midnight. Then you dream about hitting curbs and fall out of bed. So it's very important to get chilled first."

James (aka "Yuppy Scum") used to be a "trader on the life market" but is now "a glorified paper-boy". He is currently resting up on his womb- like canal boat after having "a nasty ding-dong with the road after a party". Owen, after "three consecutive flat tyres on a bitter day, and snootiness from wannabe middle-class secretaries", relishes stiff brandies, "talking the legs off a stool", and then a tin of oxtail soup before DJing into the night.

"I gobbed in a driver's face recently," muses Andrea. "I'd never done that before. To cope, I usually cry afterwards. For three hours straight once."

"Observing London at speed all day, you realise it's all a blink of an eye. Sometime, the walls are going to come tumbling down. We're at the end of a world era," summarises Joe 90. "But it'll all be really, groovy, I'm sure"

Wheels on fire (clockwise from far left): after cycling through London all day, Anthony escapes to `levitation and the lotus position'; John Paul goes home to mum; Andrea weeps then chills out; Owen, no longer `raped by secretaries' eyes', spins records for transvestites; Tim teleports mentally to the Amazon; James goes back to his canal boat; and Biff Wilson, after an accident which dislocated his shoulder and snapped his bike frame, goes partying. Only later does he say, `I'm in pain, but how's my bike?'