Sunday, September 02, 2007

Playing in Traffic

Vladimir -- neighbor, friend, Russian expatriate and advisor in all things relating to the Kalashnikov assault rifle -- reports back from the mass bike rally known as Critical Mass.


Thought you'd want a report.


11 things I learned at critical mass

1. BART elevators are free and work ( at least in North Berkeley and Embarcadero).

2. Show up is announced as 5:30, real show up is 6:00, begin riding at 6:20.

3.Riders are blue collar, look like they¹ve just gotten off work. Most don¹t have helmets, riding pants, any of that stuff. They wear work clothes. Did not see one East Bay cycling club outfit.

4. There is reading a Chron story about 2,000 people riding bikes, and there is being with 2,000 people riding bikes.

5. It's fun to f**k with cops. (Vladdy, you old dissident.) The word passed down the line, "The Bay Bridge is free after 8 o'clock." Leaders kept trying to get the pack onto the bridge. Dozens of cops standing before the on-ramp on Fifth. We turn left, go a few blocks, turn right aiming for the First Street on-ramp. Scores of cop cars/motorcycles turn on their sirens and haul-ass to head us off. That went on for an 45 minutes.

6. The ride is much longer than I thought it would be, 16.7 miles according to my excellent mileage computer. Ride starts at the foot of Market. The route is, most of the time, bordered by Broadway/Van Ness/Bryant/First Street. There were many variations, alleys, and an assault on tourists stranded in Union Square.

7. The ride takes much longer than I thought it would. We began around 6:20, ended close to 9:00.

8. Except for one gut-breaking up, the ride was flat or close enough to flat.

9. This is not a Save the Planet event. The vibe is, "Shove it to the man" with a righteous, "F**k the Pigs" now and then.

10. At least 100 cops got some good overtime.

11. You are on your own. Flat tire, busted chain -- nobody's going to stop and help out.

Next year in Leningrad,


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