I participated in my first Critical Mass ride a few Fridays ago. I thought I’d better post on it and get this photo out of my cell phone. Can you spot the guy with no pants on?

There was also a dude with a drum on his handlebars and someone else with a nice sound system on a trailer. I’m guessing that there were about 300 riders.

At first, everyone just gathers into a big crowd. Some young bucks (trying to impress the chicks with bike tricks) provided impromptu entertainment. There were a lot of interesting bikes there, like this one from RideYourBike.com. Funky was there on his tall bike. Eventually, bikers began to slowly circle the crowd and little by little everyone joined in. Finally, like a flock of birds spontaneously heading off on migration, the swirling mass heads off into downtown Seattle. There are no designated leaders. I really like that aspect of it.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Of course, this really screws up Friday rush hour. Why do you suppose these rides are not scheduled at say, 8:00 on Sunday mornings? The vast majority of the poor car commuters temporarily trapped by this migrating mass were smiling and holding their hands out for high-fives.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

A few were less enthusiastic. One gentleman driving a Cadillac Escalade was livid. “You’re breaking the goddamn law!” he screamed at me as I rode by. Other people just beeped their horns and the more a person beeped the more we waved at them in appreciation of the support we assumed they were showing.

I witnessed just one altercation where an irate driver bumped a biker stopped in front of him. Word of warning to drivers: Never use your two-ton steel car to physically threaten a biker. She jumped off her bike, lifted it up over her head and told him if he did that again she was going to throw it through his window. A young buck got all excited and came to assist this damsel in distress but backed down when I told him to chill. I also leaned into the window of the car driver and asked him to be patient. Everything turned out fine, all bark, no bite.

I may check it out again this month. Maybe I’ll see some Gristmillers there.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.