Bicycle Diaries: Hurricane ride

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27.8.06

Hurricane ride

This was the first mass that I got to Daley Plaza early, maybe around 5 o'clock. I wanted enough time to hoist my City of New Orleans flag on the back of That Which Rolls. I pitched camp at the east side of the Picasso sculpture.

There were a few folks there, mostly bike messengers by themselves in twos and threes. Nobody talked much. A few slowly orbited their bikes round and round the Picasso observing the unhurried increase of the crowd. The rest of us, bikes parked, sat or more comfortably, lounged marking the time with reading or bike decorating. I was writing this.

Pedestrians hurried by on their way to parking garages or trains. Tourists, nearly all familes, coming to see the Picasso, lingered to photograph the freakbikes. Another popular subject was a woman's bike with plastic brown-and-yellow butterflies swarming the back rack and handlebars. A camera team interview Alex who founded and leads West Town Bikes. It's a learning space to teach bicycle maintenance and repair to youth in and around Ukranian Village.

By 5:30, the plaza was beginning to fill. It didn't seem there would be as many massers as we had at the May and June masses. Scattered thunderstorms had been predicted. The air was cool and heavy. Something like thunder ripped towards the north but that was it.

The first massers I knew showed up a little before 6. Willow, the pasties lady, was getting hassled by the cops. I hadn't seen her in 3 or 4 years until I started massing again. She used to date this local writer I once subsidized.

Howard was setting up the sound-system on his bike trailer. He's one of the inner core of mass old-timers. I met him at one of the mass happy hours a few months back. Ever since I've talked to him at various bike events he helps with like the Green Drinks Chicago Eco-Transportation Show.

A little after six the voting for the night's got underway. There were four routes: two to the north and two to the south. It took a while to decide. Eventually, the great xerocracy reached a rather loud compromise based on the two northern routes. The route took us through the more upscale neighborhoods of the northside ending at Foster Beach.

The roll was great. It was the first where I really felt like a part of the crowd as we went along talking and singing. I got so inspired that I plundered my all-time favorite cartoon to portray me new self as a full-fledged masser!
Thanks to Bob Kastigar who supplied all the mass shots accept for my bike and the Southpark plunder. You can check out his other mass photos here. He also has a great biking adventures website here.

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