Friday, December 2, 2011

Critical Mass Pittsburgh, August 2008 (August 30, 2008)

Current mood:accomplished
[...with a couple of clarifications made Saturday afternoon...]

The last Friday of the month is Critical Mass, and every chance I get, I make the ride. The weather was just about perfect, high 70s and blue skies. I knew the bike was in good working order, so when the appointed hour came, I just grabbed my gear, hopped on and rode away.

Twelve miles there, about six miles riding around Oakland, Bloomfield, Downtown and the North Side, then 12 miles back. Total of about 30 miles. No problems, no soreness, I wasn't even all that tired, though I was flagging a little bit on the way home. I went dumpster diving for a milk crate, which I carried for the last seven miles. This did slow me down a little bit. It's also mainly uphill those 12 miles.

We left Dippy (the Carnegie Museum's diplodocus dinosaur) at 6:05, out Forbes, L on Craig, L on Fifth, L on Meyran, L on Forbes, L on Craig again, R on Fifth, L on Neville, * [correction] L on Centre, R on Craig, R on Baum,* L on Millvale, L on Liberty, L on Bloomfield Bridge, R on Bigelow Boulevard, peel onto ramp into Downtown, peel onto Sixth/Ross, R on Sixth, L on Wood, R on Forbes, looped through Market Square, back onto Forbes to R on Stanwix, R on Liberty, L on Seventh Street. I thought we were done, as they held up a bit at Penn while I went forward, headed toward home, then noticed I had several dozen cyclists following 100 yards behind me, so I rejoined them rejoining me. There was a game at PNC Park, so we crossed the 7th Street Bridge, L Lacock, L Federal, R General Robinson, passed the stadium and Mazeroski Way, then doubled back somewhere short of Heinz Field. I turned L onto Sandusky, headed home, while they went another direction. We started with about 80 and ended with about 50. It took about an hour.

I'd've preferred that we cluster a little tighter. After all, that's the point of having a "critical mass", the term deriving from nuclear physics. You can have a wagonload of Uranium-235, but until it's jammed together extremely tightly at the atom level, all you have is a whole lot of radioactivity jumping around. When all those protons and neutrons are compressed, however, and get SO close together that all they can do is blast apart other atoms with their jumping around, THEN you get a nuclear chain reaction. Anyway, as cyclists, if we're strung out seven blocks long, all we're doing is tying up traffic and pissing people off, but if we're clustered tightly, as a critical mass of cyclists, then we function as a single entity, and thus make our point. My preferred location in the mass is at about the front of the second fifth of the crowd, so I can yell forward to the lead cyclists any news from the back, usually to slow down or form a single lane.

Headed home, I detoured through Fineview, just to do some exploring, and to test my climbing abilities. Boy are there some hills up on the 11E Fineview bus route! Eventually I ended up at Lafayette and Federal Street Extension, and from there it's a straight shot to home, so home I went.

Ten minutes after walking in the house I was in the shower, and 10 minutes after that was rarin' to go on the next item of business for the evening. Woot!!

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