Critical Mass


Bike Friday has been alive with activity lately, so much so that this blog is a nagging memory every now and then while I ride to get to work, so I can in turn work like crazy and then finally get to ride home into the sun to my beautiful family.

Needless to say, things have been good. We had a nice vacation on the beach in Newport. We flew kites in a state wayside right down from our hotel that thanks to knowing the right people was less than it costs to stay in the Motel 6 on the freeway here in Eugene. We didn’t do much of anything. That was a nice change of pace.

After which, Bike Friday went to the Oregon Country Fair in custom-built (folding, too!) tie dyed polo shirts and showed off the bikes. We showed Ted White‘s classic “Return Of The Scorcher,” a movie that’s not only well known for showcasing bike culture around the world (read: see it if you haven’t!) but also for inspiriting the first Critical Mass (and also much less so for including a little interview with Kash, who runs our SF tikit agent Warm Planet, as he washes some underwear on tour). We made a whole skit out of it, explaining that our power source wasn’t working and that we’d need to bring in the back-up ROB unit.  As it turns out, the “ROB unit” was Rob English, fastest British man and 7th fastest in the world according to the hour record, atop Hanz’s desk which is entirely pedal powered.  He was all decked out in a huge Union Jack in the form of full-on time trial gear.  Anyways, it was a blast, but we didn’t get to camp because the Fair’s weird like that. I guess.

The girls left me last weekend and I went to Paul‘s well-named “No Car Party” as well as the even better-named “Kidical Mass.” The latter really sticks into my memory because it was a heck of a lot of fun on bikes. I’ve appeared at a Critical Mass or two and kind of like it. The police reaction to it I don’t like. But Kidical Mass was none of that. Just a family-friendly group touring about the neighborhood with the kids, enjoying the ride and following the traffic laws along the way. It was not like we were blocking traffic (yes, yes, I know, “we are traffic”), but it was like the other traffic didn’t exist. We went down to the Whiteaker Neighborhood River Festival I didn’t even know existed and then rode all over. Then they were playing “Labryinth” at the park and the plan was to go to Laughing Planet beforehand but I thought the dog might miss me.

In the Bike Friday front, we’ve never had a July like this. Usually things start slowing down now. They’re ramping up. In other news the tikit line hit a real milestone in production today, being a sure sign of the ease at which we’ll be able to keep up with the increased desire for transportation solutions. Season tikit? Yeah, it’s pretty much ready. We’ve got a blinged-out fiber Express tikit in the showroom we’ve been calling the Carbon tikit. Kind of like a carbon credit, but much more useful for getting the groceries.

I’ve just been riding (actually so has Sierra, both on the Tug-a-bug and on her own Bantam NWT) and hope that I’ll take the Pocket Llama to Cycle Oregon Weekend and the tikit to the Bridge Pedal. The 54×15 will be perfect. Hope to see you there!

In honor of the Last Friday Artwalk (the much better of the two in Eugene) as well as Critical Mass, I propose we change the name of our most ridiculously-category to “Bike Friday Fabulous First/Final Friday Fixed Gears.” There will be one every month or else!

Lastly, go see/hear Panasonic‘s new release if you haven’t. Yes, I know they’re now called Pan Sonic because of that silly electronics company, but I still remember them at Panasonic when I saw them play with Merzbow and Masonna. Indeed, that was probably the most memorable show of my life. Their cold, mechanical, form of minimal techno is unlike anything else, all pink-noise and square-wave. The latest is another live set, just brimming with raw, powerful energy, like a technology-current Esplendor Geométrico. I just wish it were a LOT louder. Just put it on headphones in the dark on turn to tracks 8 until the end to feel the full frontal force.

On the same trip, 1/2 of the aforementioned, aka Mika Vainio, who usually seems to have more in common with minimal glitch composers like Ryoji Ikeda or Alva Noto than anything else, also put out a great album called Oleva under his alias that even has a cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” to rival Psychic TV‘s. It’s dark, throbbing, almost ambient at times and highly recommended.

What’s new in ya’ll’s world?

For those of you using Google Alerts or some other service to monitor web pages on Bike Fridays, don’t get us confused with the other Bike Friday. It turns out there are a bunch of Toronto, Ontario, cycling advocates putting together just about every arm of pro-cycling work including Critical Mass, recreational rides, and benefits to commuters into one handy-dandy little do-it-yourself package. Almost makes me wish I was there! Someone in Toronto needs to start a Bike Friday Bike Friday!!!

I’ve written before about the bike-positive celebration that Critical Mass is. I’ve showed how some places (New York City, Eugene) have a very difficult time getting the local law enforcement to work peacefully with the cyclists. A recent article in a local Eugene paper covers how bad it is and what a great contrast it is to places like San Francisco and Portland where the cops even participate. This response from the Chinese police is perhaps the most interesting. All seriousness aside, I’m a bit wary to join up with Eugene Critical Mass anymore despite the fact that I really enjoy it. Last time I went, it was right after the aforementioned article was published and a lot of people showed up because of it. Also, it seems that the cops practiced a little more restraint. But not enough. Mid way through the ride, they picked out the one visitor from out of town and surrounded him with three cops. The main problem was that he was at the tail end of the group which had just turned right at a stop light. It turned red just as he was going through. This is how Eugene says “welcome to our town” I guess: harassment and unnecessary fines. It’s sad, because they ruined an otherwise good thing. The problem, I might add, is not that anything really illegal is happening. The problem is ultimately EPD which doesn’t have a good reputation anyways. Their abuses of power are well documented. Such misuse of state-granted authority the real examples of terrorism in this country.

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