Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Critical Mass in DC

Friday after work, I headed down to DC to meet Emily & Jason for a Critical Mass bike ride. I was really looking forward to this as I'd never cycled in DC before and the weather was perfect. We rode in jeans and t-shirts with no helmets as many of the cyclists were Washingtonians who used their bikes simply to get from A to B and held a more casual attitude to cycling. I felt as though I was breaking a law and rather liked the feeling of freedom that I felt. We were not going to be riding fast and being in a large group I felt safe.
 We met at Dupont Circle and as the departure time neared everyone started riding in circles around the fountain while a couple of guys belted out some country tunes.
Then we were off! With bells ringing, horns blowing and whistles shrilling along with hoots and yells from riders, we started our trek. I sported a huge grin as I pedaled, which I saw mirrored in everyone's faces, the atmosphere was almost euphoric as everybody happily gunned through the streets. We passed the White House and I delighted in a guy waving to the tourists we passed, shouting out, "Thank you very much for coming! Very pleased to have you here!" The crowds waved back at us probably thinking we were some publicity stunt. But hey, we were, weren't we? Before long we were crossing The Mall with The Capitol on one side.
The Monument glowed in the warm light of the sunset and we carried on, getting closer to The Capitol.
I stopped to watch the group and laugh as they spent a good 5 minutes just going around in circles.
Taking this photo of Emily was pretty difficult. I'm not too good at taking photos while moving. 
This guy was incredible. He's got one bike fused to the top of another. Extreme balance and diligence is required here and he had mastered both. Obviously whenever we needed to stop he had to jump down. He rode around with a boom box playing and a bunch of flowers in his basket. Note the bike tattoo on his leg.
We entered the Eastern Market district and noticed heavy grey skies above us. A clap of thunder and some flashes of lightning announced the oncoming storm. This was an excellent opportunity for a beer stop. About half the group agreed with us and the rest continued their ride.
We were drawn to The Fridge, a performance space where local talents can play, display or learn. Drums were on the agenda tonight but once we learned the venue was dry our interest waned and we went back to the street to find a bar.
I loved this bunny painting on the side of The Fridge. He looks like he's eating the shrub below him. We locked our bikes up and settled down to chat and people watch. We'd only felt a few drops of rain but we were settled now so decided to hang out for a while.
 'A while' turned into longer than we thought and as it darkened we thought we'd better head back towards Dupont Circle. A quick stop at an underground garage where Jason swapped his bike for another, (this bike nut has bikes all over DC, and I'm working on him to let me do a blog on his scattered bicycle collection), and then, oh gosh, a pit stop at another bar above Chinatown.
It was gone 11pm by the time we emerged and unlocked our bikes again. Emily and Jason cycled with me back to Stuart where it wasn't until I sat in the driver's seat that I realized I was actually tired. We'd covered about 11 miles but it had seemed like a lot less. Here is our route. It was a wonderful experience to cycle through the streets of DC without any honking from cars or irritated pedestrians. This city is very bicycle friendly. CM holds their rides on the first Friday of each month. Come on out and have some fun, it's free!


Anonymous said...

"Eastern Market district"? First time I ever heard Eastern Market referred to as a district. Glad you had fun.

Anonymous said...

CM DC moved to the last Friday of the month around Oct 2011, to be like all the others world wide