Saturday, November 25, 2006

Critical Mass Evening

I went on the critical mass ride last night, in part because I wanted to see what the bike parade would be like against the backdrop of the busiest shopping day of the year.

The ride meet-up time overlapped with the official downtown Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, so, at 6:00, Pine Street in front of the Westlake Center was solid with pedestrians. A number of cyclists tried to inch our way through the throng; I eventually gave up, turned around, circled the block and met up with fellow riders from the south.

We milled about; the crowd of walkers thinned out, and eventually, about a hundred cyclists began a loop through Belltown, Pioneer Square, and off to Seattle Center where a handful of riders circled the so-called “Ghettodrome”—the Seattle Center fountain—while others laughed and cheered until the cops—or at least the threat of them—broke it up and everyone went their separate ways.

Traffic was heavy but not as crazy as I expected it to be; my favorite parts of the ride were when we got to weave, en masse, through gridlocked streets around Fourth and Pike. Drivers seemed to take in in stride; I only saw one shouting match between a guy in a car and a rider corking an intersection.

I spent most of the later part of the evening, just riding around—to Queen Anne, over to Fremont, on to Ballard, and then up to Greenlake for the midnight races. It was chilly but dry, relatively quiet for Friday night, but maybe people were at home recovering from turkey hangovers. I was glad to be on a bike, burning off the mashed potatoes, grits, and pecan pie.

I know I had all sorts of brilliant thoughts for saving the world and for creative things to do in my business ethics course next quarter, but here, in the morning light, all I really recall was the joy of being out on two wheels.


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