Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Critical Mass

Here are pictures from the Critical Mass bike ride at the End of July. It is called critical mass essentially because the numbers are great enough to make a difference. Sure five bikes riders may be able to stop some traffic, but 5,000 can in effect close off the entire road. Critical Mass is different for every person. Some like to use it as a forum to promote conservation of fossil fuels. Others just want a social environment to hang out with their friends and ride their bike. Personally, I have been curious about the ride for years and finally decided why not try it. I met up with some friends (many of whom bike to work often) down at the starting point, Daley Center Plaza in the heart of the Loop. There were several costumes and statement bikes, but I was most pleased to see that my friends had brought beer. Yeah those side car grocery bag carriers held three cases plus ice…nice. Yes, drinking in public is against the law, but so long as you are not advertising it (hence the coozie) and not swerving all over the place. I was impressed to discover I could drink a beer AND ride my bike in a straight line at the same time. Granted, there were so many people that the pace was around 5-7 miles per hour (average people can run that fast). I am happy to report I made it through the entire ride (and most of one case) without a single crash, fall, or major incident. Yaaaaay! The ride ended at some scary backyard junkyard that was playing rave DJ music and broadcasting footage from the naked ride (tits!). The majority of people had peeled off before then since the ride lasted around 5-1/2 hours and approximately 45miles which is plain bananas.

Here is one story from the ride. Like I said, some people approach critical mass as a way to piss off and scold car drivers. Some bike riders were downright furious with car drivers and would pound on the car hoods or doors when we rode by. I felt bad for the drivers because it wasn’t their fault getting caught in the ride (there is no route, just follow the leader) and some possibly may have needed body work afterwards. Well one driver had enough and got out of his car to shout at the bikers. I learned that, no matter if you are right, never ever take on a mob. As soon as he started to shout and swear, twenty cyclists surrounded his car and started to pound on it. He then tried to drive away (which you can’t do because the road is clogged with thousands of cyclists) and lunged his car forward into the mob. Okay imagine how hostile the mob was and now turn it up thirty notches. I am sure this wasn’t the only incident to occur on the ride, but it was the only one I witnessed.


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