i participated in the halloween critical mass this past friday. what a thrill! i borrowed a friend's fancy bike, and zipped in and out amongst the thousand or more bikers, most of them in fantastic costume.
for those of you who don't know about critical mass, it's basically a large bunch of bikers that take over the streets of san francisco on the last friday of every month (they also do critical mass in other cities). the mass isn't coordinated beyond a fixed starting point and time (the ferry building at 630pm or so). when the mass gets going, it follows the leader, for the most part. this leads to some interesting stories:
jesus leads us astray
about 45 minutes into the mass, we were biking on the south side of union square on geary st and we came upon powell st. a man dressed as jesus sped to the front of the mass and asked his brothers to follow him left onto powell st, going towards market. some of us, a foolish few, decided this was a good idea. now, witness below the map:
that's right. we were biking on a trolley street towards a dead end. jesus fooled us. led us astray. i suspect that wasn't really jesus.
thrill of the leader
at one point i bolted to the front of the mass and decided to take the whole thing to the right. so i said "go right!" and people behind me shouted "going right!" and we all went right. what power! so thrilling. i was so giddy that i had moved the whole mass that i fell back and just tasted the victory.
of course, traffic was slowed as the mass went through the city, cars honked, pedestrians waved, joy and sadness. when i told some people i was going to bike in the mass, i got some derisive looks, comments along the lines of "how could you?" having done it, and having been blocked in traffic at other times while driving in critical mass, and having biked through the city now for over a year, i have decided that this monthly parade of joy by bikers is totally worthwhile. the small anxiety it briefly imposes on drivers is more than made up for by the joy and sense of camaraderie bikers feel.