I finally made it out to participate in my first ever Critical Mass!
I’ve wanted to do this for quite a while, but since I live so far away it hasn’t ever come together til yesterday. The ride starts from Woodruff Park, which is smack in the center of downtown Atlanta. Myself, Graham and new riding buddy Chadd made the trek from East Lake to the start area to get a little warm up. Chadd did it on his mountain bike, but he had no trouble keeping pace at all. Somewhere on Edgewood we caught up with some other folks who were headed to Mass.
We got to the venue way early and met up with our buddy Josh who was already there. Folks started to trckle in and before long bikes and riders dominated the park area.
There was a bunch of general milling around chit chatting. Saw SOPO Rachael who had a bag full of SOPO pins. I snagged a green and a purple. Bike spotting-wise it was awesome. Every conceivable type of ride was there, but my favorite had to be the double down tube Colnago, which sadly I did not get a picture of. Eventually someone said, “Do you guys want to go for a bike ride?”,…and it was on!
The ride started out slow, which was fine with me. I don’t get to ride my fixed gear much, and I am not the strongest rider in general, but it was clear that this was in no way a race. After a few blocks it was easy to tell how much power the group had, making cars wait as people corked intersections so the riders could pass. Lots of people on the street were supportive and called out to the group, whooping it up. The riders themselves were ultra-festive. I definitely saw some questionable liquids being absorbed via water bottle. Cheers!
I’d love to re-trace the route but I have lived outside of town for so long that I really don’t kow the names of a lot of the streets. The pack stayed together as best it could, but the some hills had the effect of spreading out the pack. Once thepack was spread, sometimes the back would get cauht at an intersection they couldn’t cork, which further widened the field. Since I was new to this kind of ride, and had a fear of getting dropped, I started to stay as close to the front as I could. This worked out pretty good for me, and aftera certain point I really hit a stride, which is something thathasn’t happened to me on the fixed gear til then. I’ve actually been kind of sared to try and take the fixed gear on lng rides, especially if there are hills, because lets face it…lugging my heavy butt ofthe grade really saps energy. But I think the CM ride cured me of that. I hung in there about 1/3 of the way back, didn’t struggle too hard, and felt like I had energy headroom left pretty much the whole time.
I was pretty happy we had started to head back in a direction towards Grahams hut though. One of the questions I had always had about CM was, where does it end? Even though I felt opretty good, I kind of didn’t want to keep riding if the pack started to head away from Grahams hut again. We cruised through Inman Park and headed up into Little 5. I hadn’t seen Graham for a while, and El Myr looked like a good place to hop off and wait for him and Chad to catch up, to see what the plan was from there. It seemd like once we got to the L5P area, a lot of other people had the same idea and were breaking off, looking for some watering holes. We actually pushed on up until we were in the neighborhood behind Criminal Records, at which point the folks in front of us seemed to be headed towards midtown, so we decided to hit the brakes do our own thing. Now I can see how after a certain point the group just sort of disintegrates into whateverthey had planned next, which is kind of neat. It allows people to jump off any time, which creates an atmosphere with no pressure to -make it to the end-, since there really is no end.
We still had to make it back to East Lake, so we cut through the PATH and hit up La Fonda for post-ride nourishment and beers. After eating, we were not looking forward to the last few (smewhat hilly) miles, but they actually went by pretty fast.
All in all, it was a HUGE amount of fun. I wish I would have talked to more people, but shyness prevents as always. Still it was great to be around a zillion other folks on bikes as opposed to how much time I spend out in Flowery Branch riding on the solo. I’ll be back to do it again for sure.