Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Silent Ride, For Better Or Worse

Yesterday I did the ride of silence, an annual (world-wide) ride for fallen cyclists. Similar to Critical Mass, but without the merry-making/hootin/hollerin that usually ensues. I was running late to the start, but caught up with the group on Eastlake. I wasn't sure if it was an STP training ride or not, what with sea of neon/lycra and yellow rain jackets. And yes, that was me that rode up to the pack and asked, "Is this the ride of silence?" The response, as you might guess, was a stern nod from one fellow (oh yeah, the ride of SILENCE!!)... oh well, glad I made it, even if I was one of the only peeps on a fixie and not dressed in a full race kit. (But hey, I wear lycra too when the time is right.)

It was way different than a Critical Mass ride, and I felt less safe too. We always stayed in only one lane (allowing cars to try to squeeze by in the left or center lane, yikes), and we didn't cork red-lights, so the pack was constantly split up. In CM, the 'mass' of cyclists creates a safety-barrier in which no cars are allowed to pass, and red-lights are blocked (only briefly, mind you!) to ensure that nobody is split from the group. The other issue I have with it is communication; since it is a 'silent' ride, most questions from onlookers ("what are you doing?" etc) are greeted by icy glances, since we're all trying to be 'silent.' Seems to me that at some point you're got to say wtf is going on, otherwise people are none the wiser.

One highlight of the ride was on 1st Ave downtown, when a young red-neck type sitting in a (parked!) black pickup started yelling "GET OUT OF THE ROAD!!" and repeatedly honking his horn. He made himself look ridiculous, I thought. And only if it had been critical mass, the hoots he would have generated would've drowned out his puny car horn!

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