I didn't make it out for my run this morning; I am up packing. After lunch today my son and I are headed out for the Chicago Critical Mass ride. Don't know what that is? The last Friday of every month, thousands of bicycles converge on Daley Plaza in Chicago for a ride on the streets of the city (and there are Mass rides in great cities all over the world, actually...I think they also are held on the same day). The purpose is to make motorists more aware that "bikes are traffic" (and aware motorists should equal fewer injured/dead cyclists out there). The "theme" for the ride is "HAPPY FRIDAY" and the riders yell it to everyone we pass. Some people ride it as a protest movement against the over-use of gasoline-driven vehicles, some ride as the once per month that they can actually feel pretty safe riding on the streets, some just like the giant huge party that it is. I gotta tell you, it's a pretty amazing high, rolling down Michigan Avenue with solid bikes as far as my eye can see both ahead of me and behind me. The motorists and pedestrians who cheer, dance, high five, photograph, videotape, and laugh, yelling "HAPPY FRIDAY" back at us as we ride is pretty darn sweet. Sure, there is the occasional crank that somehow is more offended by bike traffic than the normal stop-and-go traffic that is cars, trucks, and busses...always a few grumps shaking fists and shouting or threatening to call the police (we always direct them to the bicycle police, who are riding with us)...but the overwhelming majority of the people we pass get a kick out of it. (I would so completely LOVE to happen to walk out my front door and see something like the Mass riding by.) The reason for the name of the mass: when you get enough bikes together, you reach that point of "critical mass" where the power shifts and the bicycles are no longer tiny individuals trying not to get run over. We move as one (including through stoplights...if the light turns red while we are rolling through, we stay together for safety's sake...that's the thing that makes the cranks start cranking). I am very, very timid in traffic (though I've gotten much smarter and bolder about it with each Mass ride) but I feel pretty safe riding in the middle of thousands of other bikes. Every ride is a growth experience for me (and how often to you get to party and grow at the same time?) Yes, there are some jerks on the ride (show me any public assembly that contains no jerks and I will know we are finally in heaven) but mostly it's a fun bunch of folks.
We generally ride 15 to 20some miles, so I'll get a nice workout tonight.
May your weekend be fun, too!