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Friday, June 05, 2015

Kick-Ass Weekend Part I: Critical Mass

Here it is Friday night and I'm just now sitting down to blog about last Friday night. Last weekend was epic in every way: Critical Mass, the BikeSmut film festival, road trip to Emporia to cheer my friends on in the Dirty Kanza gravel grinder, camping, riding my bike from Madison to Colony, Kansas on Sunflower 58, my nephew's fifth birthday party.

And this wasn't an extended weekend. I got off work on Friday around 5:00 and had to be back at 8:00 on Monday morning.

By the end of a weekend like that, I feel about like this old trailer dog who was on her first ever Critical Mass.

It had rained hard that morning, so it was a pleasant surprise to me when we had a good turnout for Mass. The whole month of May only featured four dry days, so if you only ride when the sky is blue, you'll get more miles in a typical February than you got this May. Of course by now it's warm enough that the rain isn't hard to take, just cover up your electronics and do it. You won't melt, trust me.

But it was a day for things to break for the better. Not only did the wet weather let up, the Royals snapped a worrisome losing streak (we played in New York for a series that was eerily reminiscent of 1986 to 2013).

There's always quite a few first-timers for Critical Mass, it seems like, especially int he warm weather months. I guess that means we get a lot of samplers, people who try it once and never come back, because the core of regulars is relatively stable. You'll only get a dozen or so maniacs who will ride it when it's 6ºF and when it's 38ºF and raining, you'll get a couple dozen but 80% of those people just ride to Buzzard Beach, effectively tailgating to ride across the street. But summer, you get first-timers like crazy, and I guess it's a smaller percentage who, like me, falls in love with it as the ultimate party, often the highlight of the whole month.

I try never to miss it. I do sometimes, but I generally need a reason.

Randall was there, he's pretty regular. He's kind of an oddball for Critical Mass on several levels: he wears the full spandex roadie kit, with piratical bonus points for an eyepatch (though it's a real life eyepatch, not something he does to be swashbuckling). Plus he's in recovery, and it's not very many people who are intentionally sober who want to hang out with a group like this. There's a lot of diversity to Critical Mass but there's a definite element, possibly a majority, whose lives might be described as an elaborate drinking game. Anyway, Randall is good people. And he seems to have traded an addiction to alcohol for an addiction to teeth on his chainring. He was on one of his single speed time trial bikes, I think he said it was 68 in front and 19 in the back. I said, 'Pussy, why not 11 in the back?'

I also asked, why not a combination like a 52 in front and 11 in the back that would probably yield the same-ish ratio for less money and with less danger that you'll catch your chainring on a speed bump or a wad of gum. He said, 'I love the way this looks.' Hard to argue with that logic.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and one of the first-timers turned out to be our Master of Ceremonies for the second part of my ass-kicking kick-ass weekend, the BikeSmut film festival at the inappropriately named Vacant Farm (it's not a farm unless you're growing industrial real estate, and it was hardly vacant, either).

Not everyone who rode Critical Mass ended up at the Vacant Farm to watch bicycle themed pornography, but I'll bet there weren't many people at BikeSmut who didn't ride Critical Mass.

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