Saturday, June 25, 2016
Longest Critical Mass Ever
Sometimes Critical Mass doesn't go that far. Sometimes it isn't massive or even critical. Because sometimes it's 6ºF on Christmas Day when Critical Mass happens.
But fair weather Critical Mass is always a gas. Always a lot of people, both regulars and newbies (I suspect that most Critical Mass rides around here are at least 50% first time riders, and a few regulars drop out but are replaced by those new riders who become converts).
I made spoke cards, as I have the past six months, and the back side promoted my Post Modern Pentathlon coming up on August 14. I did some digging around before the ride this month because the darts oriented bar, Chez Charlie, I planned to take our little group to for the darts portion of the Post Modern Pentathlon, well, they're not open Sundays. And I'm committed to doing this little alley cat on a Sunday because bike mechanics always complain about Saturday rides because they're stuck working at a bike shop on Saturdays.
All night I got asked for spoke cards, and I'd run out. I made 120, kept one for my portfolio, set aside one for my wife, and put one in my back wheel. I gave out 117 and my friends were still rolling in, I guess I should have made more. They were Brexit themed, something I resisted the night before, thinking there was no way the U.K. would vote to leave the E.U. and that nobody would care about such boring politics. But then the U.K. did something as stupid as letting Donald Trump even claim to be a candidate. This is like Massachusetts seceding from the Union not because it wants to do something different than being part of the United States, but because they want to do two years of paperwork to make sure someone from Mass can drive to Connecticut.
So besides the high turnout, this turned out to be a long, long mass. It generally leaves the south edge of the Scumfresh parking lot, goes out Westport Road to Broadway to the Plaza, then it's all bets off. It goes where the guy up front goes unless a few people in back of that decide that's bullshit and schism off. This Mass went to Loose Park, then south, then back through Loose Park to pick up stragglers, then out south and east on Troost and the Paseo.
We stopped at a ghetto-ish liquor store/gas station on the Paseo and they did a great job of processing over 100 people buying sixers and hats and such out of the blue. They thought we were funny, mostly, I think. And I suspect that while they might sell lots of booze on a Friday night, selling like $1,000 worth in twenty minutes is a bit unusual, and I think that's probably about what happened.
Critical Mass has always been a bit of a party scene, and it still is, but some of the party elements have had babies in the past year or two, and now they're bringing their little honyocks along. I do notice that these particular individuals seem to party a bit lighter now that they have a toddler in a trailer behind their bike.
But the most striking thing about this Mass was the distances. So many times it seems like we ride from Westport to the Plaza and maybe Loose Park or the Nelson, and then people are already thinking exit strategy, but for whatever reason this time it went way out south and east and still made it to the overlook from the Town of Kansas Bridge in the River Market. That end point used to be a reliable feature, so much so that a lot of people who drive to the event would leave their cars at the River Market and bike up to midtown for the start, but lately that hasn't been the norm.
So anyway, I've taken the bus as part of my commute a lot lately, and I feel super lazy when I do that but I also feel...air conditioning. The bus is fairly amazing that way and I can generally put my bike on the rack on the front of the bus and it's just so goddamn convenient. So this week, I ended up with 72 bike miles and 36 of them were on Friday, and a third of those Friday miles were Critical Mass and by golly when I was getting home after I felt like I'd done something.
But even as I labored up the hills on Minnesota, I was struck by just how much fun I'd had. I won't lie, I'd had a few beers, too, but I wasn't drunk I was just buzzed on the social interactions and the bike ride and the gorgeous weather and all that.
The pictures kinda fall off as the sun goes down. I had my D7000 with me and an SB-800 speedlight, too, but really, the shots I could have gotten at the ghetto-ass liquor store/gas station, the fountain at 39th & Gillham (I tried a few there actually, all failed), I'm not sure they've invented a camera yet that's even up to that. The Nikon D5, maybe? But then again, when my D7000 can't even autofocus, the light might be so dim that even a flagship, full frame camera will be lost.