My First S.F. Critical Mass Friday,…

My First S.F. Critical Mass
Friday, October 29, 2004

I just moved to the Mission from Minneapolis, and today was my first critical mass here. I spent the morning searching for a bike, a found a foxy blue Peugeot for sixty bucks. I haven’t owned a gear bike in years, so I was planning on converting it to a single speed when I could afford the parts.

So I rode with a friend to the starting spot and it was already about twice as many people as I had seen in Minneapolis Masses, by the end of the ride I’d say it even doubled in size. It looked like around 700 folks to me about an hour into the ride. As far as riding goes, I sort of like the smaller group in Minneap, it seems like most of my “ride” tonight was actually siting on my bike and walking in a big crowd of other folks doing the same thing. We a;; just wanted to move, but there were too many of us. When we got going it was a blast, the ride stayed mostly in the downtown area, I was surprised that lots of the paths were up some pretty big hills, I figured we’d avoid them. My favorite part of the ride by far was the ride through this big ass tunnel. I remember when I first came to town actually saying that it was a shame that this big tunnel didn’t really have a good way for folks on bikes to cross through it, just a really narrow ledge for walkers. I imagine a lot of local bikers felt great to safely cross through this tunnel by bike. It was an uphill ride, and when we got to the top, we crossed over into the other tunnel and rode back down full speed. It was crazy loud, people yelling, cars honking, and lots of echo. It was so fucking fun I did it three times. We stopped by some hotels where union workers were striking and made some more noise. A few times I wound up in the front of the line, so I’d stop at an intersection, park my bike, and pull out my yo-yo while all the mass went by. If the drivers were pissed about being delayed, at least I hope they enjoyed the yo-yo show.

The evening had a very rave like feeling which was probably mostly because of it being so close to Halloween. There were a couple loud sound systems being carried in a baby add on for bikes. There were some great costumes, including at least three cats who chose not to wear anything at all… Critical Ass? That’s kind-a funny, they should do this more often, like whenever we ride on a full moon.. Get it?

Moon. Ass? Whatever, you know its funny, don’t front.

So to compare SF Mass to Minneapolis, Mpls is usually around 250. Same mix of fixies, recumbants, gears, extended bikes, hippies, crusties, old democrats, etc. Just a smaller group. Hey Minneapolis riders, dig this, there wasn’t one tall bike at all tonight! How weird is that, we usually have a couple rolling each Mass, right? Oh, and in SF there a few skateboarders that partake in the whole ride. Anyway, Minneapolis starts downtown, then travels away from the city, usually I think south, but I’ve only done it a few times. Since the group is smaller there’s less of those “which direction now? who’s going to lead us?” stopping times. Things keep moving.

Around an hour and a half into the ride my bike told me it was time to stop.. With the loudest explosion I’ve ever heard a bike tire make. Bam! So I started asking folks how to get back to the Mission- “I dont know sorry, I just moved here from Boston” ” I don’t know this city sorry” “the mission? Valencia? Dunno” “I just moved here from New Jersey, sorry”. What the fuck? Like nobody knew how to get anywhere, even the cats I bumped into on the street. I think San Franciscans only really tend to stay in their own neighborhood. Occasionally they’ll travel out for Mass and stuff, but nobody knew where they were. So I walked my bike for about two hours before I finally found the pad I’m staying in.

As for my new bike? I dunno, it was great tonight, it’s sooooo fast. I love fast bikes, and gears still freak me a bit ’cause I know a single speed NEVER slips. But this bike did me well. Did I mention it was fast? Next time I’ll bring a pump and a tube. Damn I lucked out on this bike. Oh and this cat’s gonna pay me 40 bucks for my quick release sets! I didn’t even want those ’cause I didn’t want people stealin’ my wheels.

The crowd was friendly of course, but we always are.

Oh, one more thing, I saw a bunch of cats trying to start shit with drivers. I don’t mean like talking back to a driver that’s yelling for us to move.. But more like going out of there way to piss off cars. Often I’d see the biker at the end of the group intentional taking up multiple lanes and going way way way slower than the group. Just to piss somebody off. I know this is an empowering experience, and it proves the point that we are traffic and folks best recognize. But doing shit just to piss off cabbies doesn’t help jack shit, right? Like if they hated bikers before, that’s not going to change their mines for the positive. Many of them have just been waiting for thirty minutes in a traffic jam, why make it worse for them? Any thoughts on the ride tonight?