Sunday, November 7, 2010

Courteous Mass

Finally, my work schedule allowed me to participate in Courteous Mass in Bryan/College Station. With grassroots groups countrywide, as I understand it, Courteous Mass is a bicycle party with the mission of raising awareness of bicyclists rights to the road.

Usually, cleanup detail following Friday afternoon seminars keep me from busy long past the Courteous Mass departure time, but no seminar was scheduled last Friday.

The crew of about 30 was motley, a good thing. In evidence were the expected fixed gear bicycles, but also a number of casual cyclists on all kinds of bicycles. Not one person attired in bicycling gear. One fixed-gear enthusiast on a bicycle painted in circus-like colors with large lime-green handgrips  fwarmed up/amused himself with a bit of trick riding, including riding backward (doable on a fixed-gear machine), bumping into a fixed object to rear up on the front wheel, and pulling a wheelie and spinning around on the rear wheel. I was impressed and entertained.

I was reminded how much I missed riding with a group. It is so great that someone—a colleague, actually— has taken the reins not only to organize this group, but to lobby for cyclists' right to the road in the Brazos Valley.

Other bicycles: mountain bikes, conventional road bikes, pastel-colored beach cruisers, and my Downtube folding bicycle with its 20-inch wheels.

The group gathers in the Northgate area Texas A&M University and rides to the downtown Bryan to join in the monthly First Friday celebration. Just prior to departure, the organizer (or main motivational force) asked everyone to sign a waiver of liability (standard practice at every bicycle event) and described the route. The route would actually ride about a half-mile  in the left lane on Texas Ave., a road forbidden to cycling. Okay, this is interesting. One cyclist carried the music, loud enough to energize without annoying motorists.

I volunteered to bring up the rear. Within 50 feet of the starting point, I knew the slowest cyclist would present problems. A female, probably an inexperienced cyclist, would not or could not go faster than about 5 miles per hour, despite my verbal and her companion's physical (push forward) encouragement. Although the group pace was slow, she seemed to want to get caught by traffic light, and allowed the group to pull ahead. I stayed with them, but apparently they decided to give it up at the next intersection. I tried to catch up to the group further on in the ride, but they were too far ahead.

No problem; my house is on the route. And after months of anticipation, finally I was a part of Courteous Mass. I will definitely return next month.


Chile said...

I've never heard of Courteous Mass. Is it an offshoot of Critical Mass?

Waitress from Mensa said...

Chile, I assume the name is a take-off on Critical Mass, and it appears the goals are similar: motorist awareness of bicycles, bicycle safety, and desire for better bicycle routes. Courteous Mass seems a bit less in-your-face than I remember Critical Mass being. I'm looking forward to next month: with lights and reflective vest in December, though.