Critical Mass is a bike event held on the last Friday of each month. With the weather as fabulous as it is, this is one event I did not want to miss. I found it during my research of cycling groups to prepare for the MS150. And since we are so close to Halloween, many dressed up. The event starts at Market Square Park in downtown Houston. It’s a great spot for night life. There is an outdoor restaurant as well as a street lined with old buildings and really cool city restaurants. Sometimes other events are held there like blanket bingo. There was well over 1000 people that showed up for this event. To find parking was difficult, I used a garage not far by in the theater district. Not knowing what to expect, the first thing I saw was a solo slender man in a slim fit business suit riding a bike all lit up (the wheels especially) and trailing a bike trailer (also lit up) that carried a modern boom box blasting dance music. This set the tone for what kind of event this was. There were all kinds of people there, mostly young, but older people too. There was a girl with the cutest puppy on her back in a backpack. I tried to take a pic but it came out blurry. We rolled out at a little later than 7:30PM. One lady told me the path changes every month and is never announced before hand, and it’s usually about 20 miles.
Being that I did not have a light on my bike, I knew I had to stick to the crowd and ride the entire route. Police are organized for this event because they allowed us through the intersections, we took up the entire road. I was totally lost as to where we were going but we ended up going through the Heights which is a very cool part of Houston. It’s hip and it’s established and it’s young and funky, it’s one of the best places near downtown.
We stopped at an HEB (grocery store) midway for about 15 minutes. Some guy offered me Oreos (such friendly people, I did do this by myself). I was a little unsocial, so I could have met more people, just not feeling well today, despite the drive to make it to this event since it only happens once a month! I checked the map to see where we were and saw that we were 14 miles to Market Square. I assume, since that was the midway point that it was closer to a 30 mile ride. At this point I tried to move to the front of the pack, thought I was there, but it just kept going. I really don’t know who was the leader, it just sort of happened.
There were so many kinds of bikes, BMX, mountain bikes, road bikes. And some people wore helmets. I personally witnessed a guy use his front brakes and completely flip over the handlebars (without a helmet). He was ok, I’m glad I wore one. This is a ride that you have to be comfortable being extremely close to others. Before I left I decided to take my older Cannondale, because if I needed to stop and lock it up with my cheap lock, and it got stolen, I wouldn’t cry as badly as I would with my nice road bike. Plus it has the regular petals. (not clip ins) I only saw one guy wear clip in shoes. I asked him about it and he said his were easy to get out of. Mine are not!!! So it was a good call for me to go with the bike I did. There were parts of the ride that were slow and parts that were fast. I’m happy with the bike I chose for this event. I really did take a risk in that I didn’t have any tools with me to change a tire in the case of a flat. And that does happen, I’ve gone for rides close to home twice and had to call home for rescue. I didn’t really see bike medics, so I will wear a backpack and prepare for that in the future. That could have been UGLY!
Overall, this was an extremely cool event to go to on a Friday night. Time well spent!