Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is It Time For Mass?

A couple of months ago, someone mentioned to me about Critical Mass. This was a massive bike ride that takes over Houston on the last Friday of each month. When I say take over, they really take over. Red lights, smed lights...cars be damned. Naturally, I was drinking and it appealed to me. Why wouldn't I mind doing a massive bike ride for my first group ride for an undisclosed amount of time around my city? There was beer involved. I mean it wouldn't be like this...

 

It would be high energy weaving throughout the city wondering if that car would just run us over.

 
By the way, if you haven't seen this 80s gem called Quicksilver, then do it now. This is movie was why I stayed away from that movie Rush.

So, now I have to find a victim...er I mean a friend to ride this crazy ride with me. Tag Evan, you are it. He's done it before and was happy to do it again. YAY! And bonus, he would pick me up and transport my bike. I haven't quite figured out how to do that with my bike in my car. I just don't think it would work.

I've told Evan that he needs to get a rack for next month's ride.
The meeting place was Market Square downtown. I have never really been there before (except passing it by to go to a bar), but it was quite a cool little place and very artistic. They had Niko Niko's there in which we both got some food before our big ride. Yummy. 

 I love finding these places around the city.

Check out my new helmet...oh yeah.

This is a wonderful 9/11 tribute fountain, which was serene and beautiful and mesmerizing.

A tree branch grows out of the water.

I saw some crazy things, while waiting. They actually had a TV set hooked up to a generator or a card or something, with plans to take that on the ride. 

Evan and I got new Dynamo glasses. They matched my shirt, but hard to see out of them.

Yeah, I'm rocking a biking skirt. 
This place just filled up with people. 

Oh am I sorry Evan, are you too cool to take a picture? 
I struggled with several things before the ride...whether to wear my sunglasses or bring my backpack. I chose not to wear either and it was only a mistake for my backpack. 

Finally, the race was called. It was really slow getting things started. I mean there were about a thousand riders. You basically use your foot on the ground to guide you along, but as soon as you get through a couple of intersections, you are good to go faster. This guy next to me had his music score playing loud and I swear I thought it was the soundtrack of my life in that moment. It was awesome. 

I noticed immediately that you could ride through the intersections even if the light was red. I can see why the cars hate this event, but I tried to be nice and wave to them instead of giving them the finger like one guy. 

We rode out of downtown, through Hermann Park (heard someone ran over a child, which wasn't cool), and to 288 on Old Spanish Trail (OST). We had a long break at OST waiting for the light to change. I turned to Evan and said, "I finally get out of my comfort zone to ride my bike in another area. And we are riding through my main riding area."

Evan and I waiting at OST and Cambridge.

It's just a sea of people.
We got to 288 in which I ran in to someone's tire, because he stopped quick. It wasn't bad, because I was slowing down to a stop anyways. 

I never ride on this side of 288, because it bumps up to one of the wards and it's generally not a nice area. I was wrong. Everyone was out on the streets waving to us and supporting us, which was totally cool. Or maybe they wanted to take picture of the crazy, circus bike people. They were more supportive than downtown. Then, we reached the biggest surprise of all. First, it was middle class suburbia homes and then it turned to a mini Riveroaks, with mansions along the Bray's Bayou. I have always rode my bike on the other side of the bayou for reasons stated above. As a solo female outdoor person, you have to always been on your guard and I didn't want the extra stress from an area with a really bad reputation. Again, I was wrong. This part of the bayou was so much prettier than my view of hospital buildings on the other side of 288. This was actually my favorite part of the ride and I wished had stayed there forever.

Then, it started to get darker and harder to see. I told Evan that we will have a codename Popsicle whenever we were separated and would finally catch up (I was always trying to catch up). There were massive bottlenecks on turns, because people were scared to just go. I almost wiped out when I took my eye off the groove in the street and thankfully, I survived. But Evan later on, didn't and wiped out badly. Then, the guy in front of him wiped out looking back to make sure Evan was okay. It was crazy. 

On a side note, people yell out, "MAN DOWN"  when someone goes down for a good reason. 

Popsicle worked like a charm, because we could tell who each other was amongst the many people yelling to their friends that they were on the left. 

We hit a steep bridge and then sped down fast only to have these four girls just standing there at the bottom. Evan almost hit them and luckily I saw them in plenty of time to slow down and move over. If you are going to stop at the bottom of a big downhill (this includes skiing), then get the hell out of the way. 

Then, it was time for our break at Kroger's. It was a massive amount of people doing their business and waiting. Some cars were surrounded, which happened during the ride that I didn't like. 

This doesn't even do it justice at Kroger's.
Evan cleaned himself up and we were off again. I hit a bump and then my bike seat unhinged. It went into a seated up and over position and would not stay still. It was rough. And for 45 minutes, I was miserable, because this hurt my back. I had to walk up the next steep bridge back in to the city. 

Finally, we made it to the new 8th Wonder Brewery. I wanted to stop there, but I was in pain and thirsty for a beer. We knew it would take awhile to get a beer since we got there later than the big crowd. I also knew that I would not want to get back on my bike to ride to The Flying Saucer where the car was parked. So, Evan and I just went there instead to have some cold beers and some food and some conversation with friends; this made for a much happy Kristi.

We rode a total of 24.5 miles in roughly 2.5 hours (with break), which is the most that I have ever done in my life. I had so much fun and I can't wait to do August's Critical Mass. Thank you Evan for going with me and helping me as much as you did.

On another side note, the biking skirt was freaking tight and hurt. 

Lessons Learned: Always be firm with what side you are going and telling it to that person. Also, don't be afraid to go alittle faster. Oh...and bring some beer. 
1. Have you ever done Critical Mass? Would you do it again? I am so ready for August's ride. 2. Have you ever done a biking event that encouraged drinking? I have done lots of running events, but this was my first biking event. 3. Did you ever find a place that was unexpected and wonderful, which blew your original preceptions of it? I once stayed away from this bar, because it looked shady. Finally, one day I went in and it turned out to be a really cool local Austin bar.

10 comments:

  1. That's awesome...I wish I was there to give it a whirl...sound like a great community of peeps looking out for each other...plus beer's involved!

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    1. You might want to check it out in your side of the world. It's all over America right now. I think you would have loved it. I didn't write that people had Lone Star beer in place of where their water bottles go on the bike.

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  2. Hard to believe you had a moment to take your eyes off the road to take in so much! I love it that you were able to peek into some neighborhoods...and get a different impression (and feel welcomed) from your bike seat!

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    1. During that part, we were in a pack that more or less fanned out a bit until the big bottleneck turn on the other side of the bayou.

      It really was so pretty and was so wrong about my initial impressions. I'm so adding that to my list of places to ride through.

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  3. WoW that sounds like an awesome event and I'm really glad you enjoyed it. That's something that I would love to do as well, I would love to run a marathon as well but I know that I will never be able to do the latter.

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    1. It really is and next time, I'm gonna loosen the strings to bring more alcohol in to my body. NOt enough to be too drunk to bike, but just a beer or two.

      Why can't you run a marathon?

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  4. ha! Loving that biking skirt!! :P
    Due to my recently injured finger I've been finding the addiction involved in riding..
    My legs scream at me every day, but I'm learning to ignore them.
    I wish we had some cool stuff like this here in Melbourne! I guess taking on the streets all by myself wouldn't really have the same effect. :P

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    1. Thanks Ivan. It's an interesting clothing item. Good for you on getting out there in biking. Check out Critical Mass. They may have them in Australia. It's not just in Houston.

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  5. I have heard a lot about Critical Mass and my cousin in San Diego was really into them. going to ck out if they have in chicago.. would love to give it a go.. sounds like a cool event!

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    1. Yes, you should check it out Nicole. At least to say you did it once.

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