July Split, Exploration vs. Repetition

July 29th, 2011 by ccarlsson

Some friends of this blog organized a “concept” ride for the Critical Mass here in San Francisco earlier this evening. A flyer was prepared and hundreds were distributed before the ride.

A lovely ride to Cayuga Park, park of mystery and amazing scupture!

As has been the case when passing out proposed routes over the past year or two, some folks get pretty hostile (weirdly, they usually look like they’re middle-aged guys, maybe over 50, who have some kind of self-righteousness that they *know* that Critical Mass *never* has any proposed routes!). But most folks I handed it to were eager for a good suggestion and excited to see a map.

Well the ride took off  before any of the co-conspirators could get “in front” so up Market it went. Who knows who decided to go, or to go *that* way (again!), but so it was. A bunch of us rushed to the front and managed to get it turning south on 4th Street. At 4th and Mission I made a bunch of noise and convinced the front to stop for a full light cycle (to allow everyone behind us to catch up and mass up again), after which I felt I’d done my part to make the plan happen.

Down 4th Street I jumped on to a bus platform and took these photos:

Southbound on 4th Street near Brannan, July 29, 2011, San Francisco.

Critical Mass San Francisco, July 2011.

A good time was had by all...

We rode across the 4th Street Bridge and when we tried to cross the empty baseball parking lots, a fair number of folks decided we were escaping the predictable patterns of past Critical Mass’s more than they could reasonably tolerate. Thus, they turned back and proceeded northward on 3rd Street, while those of committed to the route carried on southward on Terry Francois Blvd. Drama solved! Around 100-120 of us were going to Cayuga Park! That was plenty to have a good time, and enjoy a “real” Critical Mass experience.

For those who went back to the city center (and thanks for taking the cops with you, by the way), I hope you had a good time. I’m sure you went around Union Square, through the Broadway and Stockton Tunnels, circled up at Market and Van Ness, and eventually just melted away through attrition… Just like nearly every ride for the past few years! Geez! Some of us are bored to death with the predictability of that experience, and the empty posturing of those delusional few who actually believe they are being “more political” or “most radical” by pushing Critical Mass into endless traffic jams in the heart of the City (no, there is no “class war” between cars and bikes–they are inanimate objects!–nor is there one between motorists and cyclists, who are all workers of one sort or another at the end of the day).

I went to Cayuga Park because I prefer a ride that plays with the geography of the City. A ride that explores new and unusual routes off the beaten path. A ride that pleasantly surprises local neighbors and passersby as we roll through. And finally, one that ends, like we did during the first years of Critical Mass, in a shared hangout at a park, on a street, at a bar, or some kind of social ending. Serendipitously, there were a number of us oldtimers who made it to Cayuga Park and we realized that we can just do this whenever we want!

Everyone is invited to join us, of course. The more the merrier (must’ve been a good 75+ who made it all the way to Cayuga tonight). BBQ, beer, conversation, live music, it was a lovely evening. And an easy bike ride or BART trip back home at the end, long after sunset. So we’ll bring a proposed route and destination, perhaps not every month, but from time to time. If you’re bored with the same ol’ same ol’ break away from it and join us next time! (And send suggestions for ending spots and routes to get there! or better yet, make a map and bring a few hundred to the next Critical Mass!)

–Chris Carlsson

Cayuga Park sculptures by Demetrio Braceros, under the BART tracks.

BART over Cayuga Park

The more you look around the more you find...

Demetrio Braceros was the park's caretaker for years, and this is what he created.

Fittingly, we came on bicycles!

11 Responses to “July Split, Exploration vs. Repetition”

  1. Ron says:

    Thanks for this! I enjoyed the ride very much, especially seeing some routes that were new to me. What a cute park that I would never have known about. It was very nice riding the residential streets, and going under 280.

    Having a destination is a good thing. It comforted me knowing exaclty from where I would head home.

  2. Hugh says:

    I was a big skeptic of whether it was possible to get Critical Mass to A) ride the long haul into strange territory through suburban neighborhoods into new territory, and B) actually END anywhere. But I was wrong! Turns out there was a Critical Mass of people up for the adventure! Kudos to the gang who put this ride together.

    It was a smaller mass, but happily we had no cops riding in our midst, and with a smaller crowd comes a way more relaxed, mellow vibe. Just a bunch of folks out for a stroll on bikes! But the thing that really made this ride special, to my way of thinking, was the fact that we finally came to a stop somewhere — and in a great park!

    The first few years of Critical Mass we quite often ended in a park, which left time for us all to socialize and get to know each other. It’s nice to take a long bike ride and then stop to rest, drink some beer and talk to some new people! Somewhere along the way, Critical Mass became this ride that just goes all night, until finally there is just a small number of riders riding late in the evening. Nothing necessarily wrong with that model, but it is nice to mix it up every once in a while.

    Congrats to Dave and the crew who put this ride together and made it all happen!

  3. luvnbiken says:

    liked the route alot! thinking to myself.. I would do this route another time but wouldn’t want to do it alone. I couldn’t make it all the way to the Park, but liked the “exploration”. I get bored with repetition and why not make it a nice ride to unfamiliar parts of the city.. – especially with so many of you there to ride with.

    Thanks again CC!

  4. Jym says:

    =v= I’ve been under the weather this week, so I arrived late and was going slow, and I joined up post-split. I looked on my smartphone to find the Exploration ride, but it was being a dumbphone and only found reports from the Repetition ride.

    I bailed when it went to the tunnel yet again, but rejoined it later. It ended up at the bicycle safety demonstration area at the end of Waller Street. It’s always fun to ride Critical Mass, but much more fun when it’s not the same old same old.

  5. Iron Pan says:

    Exploration Ride! Jym can we use that for the next one?

  6. Joe says:

    HAHAHA I’m the fourth street waving guy! This was my first Critical Mass, and I really enjoyed myself. Thanks everyone!

  7. Jim Little says:

    Hi, my girlfriend and I traveling from Cleveland Ohio (where we frequently attend CLE Critical Mass) and plan on joining next months ride. Any suggestions on where we should rent bikes ?

  8. tilly says:

    It’s funny I ran up against exactly the same problem the 27th of July in the remote Catania (Italy).
    A couple of us, to avoid “the same old same old”. brought the map to go to an usually avoided (who knows why…) neighborhood (“Librino”) and proposed to finish the tour in a “social center” there (sort of arts association) whose members that day were having a party to promote their activities.

    We ended up being blamed as traitors to the CM!!.

    ..And eventually we split.. and enjoyed..
    Sorry for my English and thanks a lot!

  9. My first SF Mass was Halloween 2004, I don’t really like to costume up for the Halloween rides, but I love taking pictures of them. As we were riding along, I saw this cute couple stuck at a light as the Mass rode by. Rather than getting upset, as many commuters do, these guys took the 8 minute break as a chance to just laugh and enjoy each other. It was possibly the most fucking romantic thing I’ve ever seen. http://www.flickr.com/photos/docpopular/6292867291/

    The seen looks so serene and it’s crazy to imagine that there were hundreds of costumed riders directly behind me, and dozens of car horns blaring right behind the couple on the Vespa. BTW, this was shot on my iPhone without any photoshoping.