Critical Mass London December 2017

Summary: The mass headed north to Camden, then South, but it was not enjoyable enough to follow.

The first thing to say is: this was not my first Critical Mass. I’ve been going for many years, regularly and irregularly.

wheelieBefore my report on this last mass, proper, I’d like to offer some context. On the first mass I went to, around the 10th year anniversary of Critical Mass, people I spoke to, or who wrote reports on the list, thought that there were problems with the bike couriers, mostly young men, riding aggressively.

Then on the last mass I went to, around the 20th year anniversary, people thought there were problems with the long-boarders, who also happened to be young men, perceived to ride aggressively.

So it seems there has always been an issue of more veteran people perceiving certain groups, of mainly young males, as aggressive riders.

This time, the first thing I noticed when I arrived to the meeting point was a lot of young teenage boys doing wheelies, some very spectacular.

So a whole wheelie show was going on on the Sough Bank and I immediately felt (knew?) that it was going to be the theme, the highlight of the evening, that they were going to do wheelies, ride aggressively, the whole evening. And from where I was sitting and pedalling as I rode with Critical Mass, that was what happened. I also noticed that there were very, very few women on the ride overall.

I spoke to some one older and wiser and a veteran of Critical Mass who mentioned that there had been problems with these guys before. One time they robbed a shop, they massed into a shop and robbed it – as they were participating in Critical Mass, or at least it could be perceived that the robbers were participants of Critical Mass.

Maybe it was 20 of them tonight at the beginning of the mass but then they seemed to double, like another 20 of them joined the mass as we were riding.

You could also see these guys coming about five years ago. Young guys riding on the wrong side of the road, wheeling, generally riding aggressively within critical mass. It was clear then for me, every mass I went to, that it was getting worse and worse. The mass was going further and further, faster and faster, less enjoyable every time.

So having seen all these things over the years, and seeing these young boys last night following the pattern, as the mass reached Camden, I headed home.

It was a very small mass being Christmas and cold. Traditionally this mass between Christmas and New Year has always been the best for me, because of its intimacy. So there is the expectation that the mass is going to be special. But then because it was so small, it made the prominence of this group stand up and in a way poison the atmosphere more than if the mass of people had been in its hundreds.

By one Anonymous

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