Monday, August 29, 2016
This is quite a streak. I haven't missed Critical Mass in 2016. The last one I didn't ride was December 2015.
For the first time this year, though, I didn't make a spoke card. Several people asked about it, but I'd had a total shit day at work and I couldn't think of anything clever. Or zeitgeisty.
But I love Critical Mass. These photogenic people are some of my favorite human beings in the whole world.
I don't know about other cities' Critical Mass rides, I hear of small ones, massive ones with police escorts, and I've heard ours criticized as a alcoholocaust.
There's definitely a party element to Kansas City's Mass. But there's also folks who make it a family outing with kids too young to ride loaded in trailers, their older siblings on BMX bikes and such. The roadie element is pretty scarce, though Randall fulfills that role for our purposes. Roadies don't actually claim him, but he rides in a full kit on a carbon fiber time trial bike. Wears a helmet, clips in, by urban cycling standards he's definitely a roadie.
But we're a diverse group. And I think part of what makes our Critical Mass such a gas is the diversity and size of the group. In nice weather, we'll draw 150 or so (giving out those spoke cards this year gave me a pretty good census of mass). My guess is this month we had about 100 riders. Probably would have had more except the forecast called for thunderstorms.
The forecast wasn't wrong. After we cleared out of the Nelson, I was hearing talk of a tornado touchdown in Gladstone, there was obviously heavy weather coming in from the north. I had my electronics bagged and it was warm, so no reason to fear riding in the rain, but tornados... And I figured that might also mean hail was a real possibility and riding in a hailstorm really is a big bowl of suck.
Sarahsaurus Rex was along for this Mass. I met her in person relatively recently at the Trashboat Regatta, but through the miracle of Facebook I feel like I've known her a long time. She's a total badass (she's the redhead I'm trying to get a Pilsner Urquell endorsement deal for). I introduced my friend Eric to her and it turned out he hadn't met her but was a fan. The miracle of Facebook again—she's one of those people who regularly posts stuff she's doing that makes you think, 'I want to go do that!'
So anyway, like I was saying, I got a little freaked out at the prospect of tornados and hail, and I'd decided to head for home. The Max runs late these days, so I thought maybe see if I can't get downtown on the Max and transfer to the 101 if it was still running. Thinking to get out of the weather sooner rather than later basically. Total pussy move, I know, but it made sense at the time.
So I make it to the bus stop at 39th and Main and it's like two minutes until the bus will come and pick my pussy ass up. And who comes riding up Main? First Sarahsaurus Rex asks me what I'm stopping for. Then Speedo Ryan says, 'I'd rather die on my bike that live on the bus.' And the next thing, I'm riding with my friends again. Not long after we got to the Scout, the skies really opened up. I had my Nikon in double plastic bags by then, and a good thing. The rain shield on my camera bag assumes that if you can block the water hitting everywhere but where your body is in contact with it, you're fine. But it rained so hard I could feel a steady stream running down my back between me and the bag.
We shaded up a bit in a parking garage where we could get good and likkered up for the ride home. A lot of people only had a mile or so to get home, but it was more like six or seven miles.
And what a slog it was. The main thing was visibility, both for me and for drivers. I wear glasses, and there's just no good option in a downpour, what I can see gets limited. I'm really familiar with the route on the up side, we left off from a spot on my regular commute. The down side is late on a Friday night in a rain storm is exactly when car people don't expect cyclists. And some of those motorists have been drinking as much as I had.
Oh, and speaking of celebrities: another badass, Cupcake Smasher, a local Roller Derby superstar was at mass. I've tried, it's just impossible to take a bad picture of her.
Posted by Chixulub at 8:29 PM