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