This is Cleveland Critical Mass.
In 1992, a few dozen San Francisco bicyclists decided to get together once a month and simply ride their bikes. Critical Mass has since become a worldwide phenomenon. In more than 300 cities spanning the globe, people grab their bikes and just ride.
This ride will be my fourth — which makes me still a newbie by Critical Mass standards. The rides usually begin in Public Square and end at a bar in one of Cleveland’s many hip neighborhoods, where you get to chat with other pedalers. I ended up on Larchmere, in Ohio City and on Whiskey Island after my first three treks.
I realized Critical Mass’s epic scope within the first few minutes of my initial ride in June. We were a mass of bikes taking up the entire eastbound lane of Lakeside Avenue. With hundreds of people around me, and the buildings of the city encompassing us, I immediately understood the ride’s appeal.
The rides begin with a destination in mind, but the route is never predetermined. The organizers just go with the flow. Veterans of past journeys will rush to the front to “cork” intersections and let the mass of bicycles pass through safely.
Every ride has gone through some of Cleveland’s poorer areas — and this has been the most rewarding part. People come out and cheer us on. There are no pretenses to Critical Mass, so when someone asks what we’re doing this for, several riders often shout back: