Monday, November 1, 2010

Not very massive, but it's hard to be critical

About 25 riders met at West Aurora High School on mid-afternoon on Halloween. Attendance was down quite a bit from the first event — likely a lot of people were home waiting for trick-or-treaters or getting their kids ready to hit the candy circuit. The first ride, on Sept. 26, brought out nearly 50 bike riders.

Riders gather at Aurora West High School.
The Aurora Critical Mass rides are intended to raise awareness of bicyclists and call for more bike lanes in the city. To allow Aurora to get comfortable with riders in the streets, the events are being held on Sundays. With enough participation, the event will change to the last Friday night of every month. (Chicago’s Critical Mass rides are held on the third Friday of each month.)

The ride’s organizer, Melissa Stoneking, planned the ride for mostly two-lane roadways so the group wouldn’t block traffic. She’s an energetic and enthusiastic rider who waved at passing motorists and invited bicycle riders to join in.

The small, friendly group was a mix of ages and sexes. The ride proceeded at a stately 8-mph pace on the bright, cool afternoon. A young boy on the back of a tandem blew bubbles as we trundled along. It was difficult for me to ride so slowly at first; I’m used to going at least twice that fast on pavement. But it’s not a race, it’s more of a parade.

Self-portrait with Critical Mass.
We proceeded down some well-trafficked streets, and caused some minor backups. Surprisingly — to me, anyway — not one passing motorist yelled or flipped us off. On the contrary, there were many beep-beeps of support, and friendly waves.

Even if the event wasn’t “massive,” it was very enjoyable, and I plan to be a regular. I also learned from a co-rider that the Chicago versions don’t generally depart from Daley Plaza until after 6 p.m., giving me a chance to get there and join in the big one.

A pretty fall day and good company.
The next Aurora Critical Mass ride is tentatively set for March 27. Contact Stoneking at for more info.