So, I was in Chicago this weekend for work, and proposed to my close personal friend JJ that we rent bikes and try out the Chicago Critical mass, as I was unfortunately missing the first opportunity to ride wrongBike(tm) in SF’s mass since it’s completion, but WAS in Chicago just in time for the local event. Despite fears about the deaths, and her bum hip as a result of being doored on Valencia when she lived in SF, she was all for it, and so we did. We picked up bikes at Millennium Park, for her a high-seating-position hybrid commuter and for me a beach cruiser frame with a low seat and long bars. And off we went!
It took us about 20 minutes of looping around downtown to find Daly Plaza (a nice political dig for the start of Mass, I thought) and i have to say, the taxis in Chicago are like a dubious fusion of the NY cabbie aggressiveness and the LA cabbie’s freedom to bomb at 90 on a 6 line street. Very scary stuffs.
The Plaza was packed with riders, from the fixie crowd to urban commuters to stunt bikes to politicos. It was pretty awesome. The turnout was solid thanks to an unseasonably warm weekend for late September, and everyone was making the most of it.
We looped around the plaza to whip everyone up, and then headed out. I’m not familiar enough with the lay of the land to describe where we went and such, other than that we visited the Loop, rolled all around downtown, rolled past Batman’s Harvey Dent Armored Car spot, rolled past 80s drug gang projects, took over an illuminated bridge at dusk, found our way to the infamous WienerCircle, a late night booze crawl eatery known for being packed to the street and for an extremely gruff and cussy demeanor. Since we arrived at 9pm, they were polite, which was even more surreal.
It was a great Mass, and I enjoyed the similarities and the differences. I rode frequently with a Berlin transplant named Jergen, on his home built one-side fork mountain bike, watched JJ beam with glee at that first-timer’s awe at the rush of being surrounded by hundreds of bicycles and taking over the street, met several cool folks who threw threes with abandon, and enjoyed the wide, flat streets to which we SF riders are unaccustomed. With the exception of a late int he evening scary moment where an old man freaked out and floored it through us, knocking bikes down and fleeing, it was otherwise a perfect ride. The BEST part for me was watching JJ experience it for the first time, and just gellin on the simple pleasure of being able to drop everything and do a Mass, despite being in another city with total strangers, and have it feel the SAME in the resoundingly awesome.
100% minimum success.
Here is a Flickr set for the Mass, complete with descriptions, for your perusal:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrongrobot … 560390652/