Reports from the list.
Report 1 by Albert: The mass was massive this month – not surprising given the time of year and the weather – 1000+ I’m sure. (Maybe someone can be more precise?)
It was also typical of recent times in that it left very late – 7.15 at least. (What chance of pushing back against the gradual time drift? Any chance of a concerted effort to leave by, say, 6.45-ish one month? Years ago that was fairly normal – in fact I remember regular 6.30pm departures in the early days.) Most people who’re coming seem to arrive well before the off, so I’m sure we could bring it forward quite a bit – but, by their nature, these things (once they slip) become self-perpetuating.
Anyway, some route information:
Up the ramp to the Waterloo roundabout (and more than once round by some people); over the bridge; and – mostly – through the underpass. (A thought – is there intelligent “policing” of the start of the rush of traffic once the ride has all gone down into the tunnel? One day, something awful will happen to the people at the back, given the blind bends and the speed vehicles go through there.)
Straight on past Holborn station and Theobald’s Rd; left into Bloomsbury Place (which I guess most non-locals think of as the eastern end of Great Russell Street). Then right into Bedford Place; left at the end, and a clockwise quarter-circuit of Russell Square; and left along Montague Place.
Left down the east side of Bedford Square, and Bloomsbury St (both of which tend to be conceptualised as the bottom sections of Gower St); then right into New Oxford St.
At Centre Point the ride got quite constricted, having blocked a bus coming straight across from Oxford St in the middle of the junction, as we turned right into TCR. Filtering round seemed quite slow, and the ride started to get _very_ spread out, and almost cut in half it seemed to me (despite mostly sensible corking, though also – in my view – insufficient consideration being given to pedestrians attempting to cross our route).
The younger riders at the head of the ride seemed keen to set quite a fast pace (fast for any mass, let alone a really big one which was having trouble holding together). So straight after Centre Point I thought I’d try to reach the head of the ride to try to encourage a consensus for slowing down – at that point I guess I was near the back of the (main) front “half” of the mass.
It gives an idea of the size and speed of the ride if I explain that I couldn’t catch up with the front [OK, I’m not the speediest cycler, but I can weave through loads of bikes pretty skilfully…] until I’d covered the whole length of Tottenham Court Rd; onwards right up Hampstead Rd; and then the whole length of Camden High St, on past Camden Town tube station. I eventually reached the head of the ride when it had paused on the canal bridge at the start of Chalk Farm Rd.
People seemed happy to wait for 5 minutes or more, to allow the ride to gather itself together somewhat (with, during that period, a couple of very efficient moving aside of bikes to let ambulances through).
When we moved off again, it was up Chalk Farm Rd, and left into Adelaide Rd; then someone was very explicitly encouraging everyone to take the first little left turn into Bridge Approach; we then went straight on over the pedestrian-and-cycle-only bridge over the tracks; and straight across into Regents Park Rd.
The ride turned right at the Primrose Hill Rd junction, and then immediately left onto the path onto Primrose Hill itself. Almost everyone ended up switching from riding to pushing their bikes on the way up to the summit (and not primarily from concern for legality, I suspect).
What seemed like a large proportion of the original ride then ended up just hanging out, enjoying the view and the company.
So when it seemed clear that the ride might not move off again for ages, I quit the ride and headed south for home.
2nd report from list:
[You] didn’t miss much afterwards to be honest, was a LONG stop at primrose heading off around 9, but eventually headed south through the park then onto Portland Place, then Oxford Circus, Regent St. intead of going through Picadilly Circus, some spark had the idea of going down the very narrow Brewer St which really fucked things up. Front still sped on regardless so the mass split into at least two, my bit going up Shaftsbury Ave, then down High Holborn and back over Waterloo bridge. We all went back to South Bank at around 9:50 for another break, and never started again after that.
“Critical Mass May 27th 2016(BIKER RUN OVER)” on YouTube