Critical Mass Turns 20

Happy Birthday, Critical Mass! Everyone's favorite organized global coincidence turned the big two-oh on Friday. I've already written a little about why I love Critical Mass. (Expect that to continue, I just made it a category on this blog. There ya go.)

Can you spot the youthful Oils in this crowd?

When we were first dating, the future Lady Oil and I rode many Critical Mass rides together. It was very romantic. You can imagine our delight when she decided to join Little and I at the big 20th anniversary ride. Actually, maybe you can't imagine it. Little Oil started cheering and squealing!

Some highlights from the ride:

 Little, Mama and Poppy Oil. Little Oil finally picked a name for Mama's bike. Poppy!

Our friends from Family Ride came out again! Yay! Together, we inject a little Kidical into this Mass. Madi scooped me on the ride, with a report up on her fabulous blog, like ten minutes after she got home.

That's a lot of people on bikes!

The turnout was much larger than it has been lately. And so enthusiastic! Many new riders were there as well as old-timers back to celebrate the birthday. I met several people who were traveling through Seattle and had made a point of attending on this special occasion. At different points during the evening I could feel a connection with all the other riders in cities around the world riding on that night, especially in San Fransisco, where the tradition began in 1992.

Checking out the bikes, holding tight to Baby the doll.

Friday's ride was fun, but it was kinda fast and strung out at first. This can happen at any Critical Mass that is filled with new riders who are unfamiliar with the strategies that keep the group together and all riders safe. We actually got dropped before even pulling out of Westlake Center! I turned around to change Little's diaper and was startled to find the plaza empty when I looked back. We needed to struggle through traffic for several blocks in order to catch up with the Mass and this only continued as the ride charged up Pine Street to Capitol Hill and repeatedly left intersections uncorked and the rear of the ride unsupported.

As an old-timer and a bossy know-it-all, I have been known to dictate strategy at these rides. The way I see it, an emergent, non-hierarchical activity like CM requires not zero leaders, but many leaders in order to function well. And folks can and do blow me off if they don't like what I have to say. Still, I am not proud that when the abandoned trailing group I was in caught up with the ride, resting and restocking at a filling station, I kinda yelled at the crowd of Nice People. Sorry!

And Nice People there were!

My friends Joe and Linda...

And Eric made it out! Hi, Eric!

In among the Critical Masses.

Bye, ride! See you next month!

The ride doubled back to Westlake before heading on to Gasworks Park via the Seattle Center. This was a nice stopping point for us and we turned our bikes back up the hill to our neck of the woods.

Raise a glass to a ride well ridden!

Little Oil really likes Critical Mass. She talks about it all the time and we look forward to the last Friday every month. It was a very special thing to make the 20th Anniversary Ride our first Critical Mass as a family.

Thank you to all the riders who have kept the tradition of Critical Mass alive.