Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Critical Miss

Maybe it was the near zero temperatures that kept most cyclists away, but when I showed up at Silly Hall there were only six other hardy cyclists there waiting for more people to show up to do the "Critical Mass".
Forgetting it was Halloween time, I was unprepared for some of the riders wearing costumes.  One guy (see photo) had Zombie makeup and his friend Steve had blackened his eyes (or maybe he'd been in an altercation) and Lee, who had recently ridden his bike here from NYC, shrugged on a clown suit that he had purchased for five bucks at Villue Vallage.

Mr. Zombie,Mr.South America and Steve with 2 black eyes

My experience in the past on these rides has been to ride near the front.  Reason being that if you ride right in the front, you have to make important decisions that affect everyone especially those riding in the rear.  Do we go through this red light?  Can we all make this advanced green?  When is the best time to change lanes so that it is safe for everyone?

If you ride in the very rear, then you might have to tolerate impatient drivers who are honking their horns or provocatively driving close to your rear tire.  As far as I'm concerned the best spot is close to the front where you can easily follow their lead.  If they decide to turn left on a yellow, you can put the pedal to the metal and charge after them.  If they suddenly decide to stop, then you can brake as well.

As we rode along Jasper Avenue, I reflected on something my friend Anne had mentioned about her last Critical Mass ride.  As she had pointed out, it is liberating to ride at a leisurely pace on a major traffic artery.  Waving to pedestrians rushing home from work, ringing our bells at the "Occupy" occupiers who shouted encouragement to us as we cycled past their camp.  It has been a long two years since I have ridden with this group and I found it to be quite  novel experience.


A quick vote was taken at the red light at 109 Street and we all decided to take the western lane of the High Level Bridge.  By the time we had reached that trestled structure, we were fifteen riders strong and had a terrific ride across the bridge.  I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  When do you ever get to cross the High Level except by motorized transportation?

Riding down Whyte Ave elicited many hoots and whoo yoos from costumed revellers already into the Halloween spirit(s).  I found myself in the rear somehow and rationalized that it was important to ride in every position in the pack.

Before I spun away to head off to work, I enjoyed watching a black bearded, long haired clown holding up traffic and signalling us to make the left turn toward Gazebo Park. That sight made my Halloween for me.

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