Bike community 2.0
A major facet of my nostalgie de décennie in The Windy City has been comparing my life in 1999 to that of 2010; especially the differences. Perhaps the biggest is the subtle change in the bike community here. When I did my first Critical Mass in May 06 I was aware of only a few bike groups. There were organized clubs like UIC's College of Cycling and the Chicago Cycling Club. More underground groups included The Rat Patrol and our city's chapter of the Scallywags. Then there were the more informal groupings, organized around regular monthly or annual rides. The Midnight Marauders and Santa Cycle Rampage come to mind. All were supported by a diverse range of bike shops and co-ops; the most famous being Working Bikes.
I even tried my hand at organizing The Square Wheelmen. My efforts, beyond a nifty graphic and some bike caps given to friends, didn't get that far. It didn't fail as much as sputter because nobody but me got the connection between Lincoln SQUARE (my 'hood) and a none-to-subtle anti-hipster dig. Also, it may've had something to do with the lack of a proper website. Blogs I could do in 06 - HTML was still a mystery. Perhaps things would've been different if I'd had a social networking platform like the one that appeared a year ago: The Chainlink. Since its inception, nearly 3,000 bikers have started and joined over 100 groups. And like in 06, they're spread along a wide spectrum of themes, rides, issues, self-help, and the just plain silly...
What really fascinates me is that I'm not all that sure if The Chainlink promoted this blossoming of Bike Community 2.0 or is merely a reflection of it. Either way, it's definitely a fact that the city is a far richer place for our idiosyncratic bikers than when I first moved here!