CJ and I’ve ridden Critical Mass in the past but neither of us have actually made a post about it. It’s kind of silly that we haven’t when one considers the hilarious amount of drama that the local media generates the day following the last Friday of every month. For those who don’t know, Critical Mass is a congregation of Houston Cyclists who go for a bike ride and enjoy each other’s company. Haha, I’m kidding. The better way to drum up page views is to describe it as 34 million drunken hipsters running red lights, wasting tax payer money on Police escorts and making you late to your 9pm class with Faaaaabian.
For the record, that last bit was mostly garbage. Sort of. On my ride to market square park to meet with the rest of Mass, I ran into a group of first time riders. I’m pretty new myself to group riding so the only advice I gave was to just be careful with stopping and starting. When teaching my little sister to ride I tell her to just keep pedaling because the bike wont fall over if you’re moving forward. When red lights get corked (blocked off for cyclists to ride through them) it acts as a concession for the group’s safety. I’ve seen falls here and there and it’s usually because a rider had suddenly stopped in front of them. That or their front tire found a scale miniature of the Grand Canyon on a street in 5th Ward.
The types of cyclists that mass keeps are far from being just Freds and Armstrongs. You’ll find people on pennyfarthings, unicylces, tandem bikes, twisted forked lowriders and that tall guy up there thrown into the mix. This isn’t a lycra and carbon swarm, but a large group of people who just want to go for a ride together on whatever they could get their hands on. The only thing some of them have in common is that they’re cycling, so with good eggs there’ll be bad. Smoking things that might not be tobacco and tall boys in the water bottle cage aren’t rare sights, and things happen during the night that not all of us approve of (cyclist on driver friction being the loudest).
The ride for me ended about 4 miles before we finished our loop as calamity struck (gasp!). Right before we reached the Kroger at our halfway point, the seat on my bicycle broke and parts of it fell off. I refueled on some Powerade at the grocery store then decided I would try and see how far I could get just standing and cycling in my top gears. The distance I covered wasn’t as long as I’d like before my legs gave out under me while climbing the bridge over US59. I ended up getting dropped by Mass (which I didn’t know was a thing that could happen) and walked my bike until I could catch a cab back to my car.
I can’t speak for CJ, but I don’t write about CM because I’m usually too into the fun of it all to take pictures or think about things to say. I ride my bike to work once in a while and have never been hit by anyone (knock knock) or had an unpleasant interaction with a driver along the way, but there are those who have not been as fortunate. Critical Mass is a ride that was created to increase awareness of the continued presence of cyclists on roads during a modern world of SUVs and cellphones, but in its current incarnation it is not a protest and I have yet to meet a rider who treated it like it was.
Hercules (my Specialized Hybrid bicycle) currently lies wounded in the back of my Scion and I sit here a bit sore from last night. People sometimes bicker and fight over how naughty cyclists act on the road or how incompetent drivers are 2 tons of traveling danger, but despite how poorly last night turned out for me, I still think cycling is a beautiful thing and every one of us needs to find at least one evening to just “shut up and ride.” In any case, Hercules will be mended and we’ll be out for CM at the end of this February if we can help it.