Masses, Kidical and Critical

Group rides are the best! Little Oil and her Papa love riding with friends. Strangers ain’t bad, neither.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love Critical Mass. I had a several year streak there where I don’t think I missed one ride! I have leaned  lot about myself through my involvement in the ride and while there have been times when I’ve felt less than totally thrilled by the rides and how they are interpreted by the Bicycle Advocacy Establishment and by the public at large, I’ve mostly been very proud to be a part of these Triumphant Monthly Coincidences.

I’ve been taking Little Oil to Critical Mass for the last three rides and to say she’s taken to it is an understatement. Now, it is worth noting that Little is a nerd. I think most toddlers are. She gets into certain things and has a tendency to get a liiiitle carried away. Currently, she will allow no music in her presence that isn’t Talking Heads. It’s Psycho Killer, which to her is, “the Fa-fa-fa-faaa Song,” and Life During Wartime, “Play the David Byrne song, Papa! The No Dancin’, No Lovey-Dovey Song!” This is all the time.

All. The. Time.

Oil Family #1 Jam

Could be worse, I know.

After her first Critical Mass, Little Oil added another obsession to her collection, group rides. On the bike, when taking care of errands or going to the playground, she’ll suddenly ask, “Kikoo Max? We goin’ to Kikoo Max, Papa?” I think she really get’s a shot of camaraderie when surrounded by people on bikes. I am guessing that that is why she’s so into bike polo, as well. You pedallers are her people!

Hence, we made sure to make it out to the C’est Magnifique ride, the Cargo Bike Ride, have started to seek out Spokespeople-type organized rides for our Just the Two of Us and Wheelio Summertime Adventures, we attend the monthly Critical Mass rides (last Friday of every month, leaves Westlake Center at 6pm) and now the South Seattle Kidical Mass rides.

We’ve been meaning to make it out to the Kidical Mass rides organized by Julian, of Totcycle for ages, but just couldn’t manage the trips North of the cut around Little Oil’s nap schedule. Well, now there’s no reason for us to miss at least one Kidical Mass a month, because finally, South Seattle has a ride! It helps that we are organizing those rides through my work.

Every third Saturday of the month, until the deepest depths of deep winter, Morgan or I will be leading Kidical Mass rides from Bike Works to nice spots around the Rainier Valley. The inaugural ride was a huge success!

How about I tell ya all about it?


On our way there, Little and I spotted Carla and May on Beacon Hill and did a little recruiting! After a moment’s chatting about riding with kids they decided to come with us to the ride!

Nice talking with the Nice People!

“Where we going, Papa?”

En route, Carla and I naturally made snap agreements on the best path across Beacon Hill. The compromise/ consensus route that resulted was not ideal. We wound up up on the sidewalk on blocks that had no ramp at the corner, (a pain in the butt when you’ve got a kiddo on your bike). We took a very indirect route, even though both of us are very familiar with the area. Our collective brain was less smart than our individual ones.

It’s fascinating to me how much riding with another person requires one to practice the same kinds of clear communication skills that artistic, domestic or workplace relationships depend on (if one is to avoid getting grumpy about pace, route and riding style). Riding companions need to be able to express their needs and have them taken seriously. They need to share information and trust each other and they need to be flexible. These are great skills to practice, and group rides are a great place to do it. Actually, with all the fellow road users we are obligated to share the lane with, the road is a perfect place to do it. So do it!

Anyway, even though we were running late, we made it to Bike Works on time and found that a great crew had already arrived!

That’s a lotta cargo bikes. Sorry, my camera has a blurry spot. I’m bummed. Blog with no camera is bad news. Anybody got a lead on a cheap point-and-shoot?

Family Ride on the left. That’s a member of the Totcycle family in that smashing “Amiga” T.

What a happy pedal family! Merlin, of many many Seattle-area bike advocacy projects is seen mounting up in the background there.

Almost ready to roll out! Hey, that’s Seattle Car-Free Momming Champion Buschick and some of her family being hauled on Morgan’s trike, Bernice! Awesome!

Aaaand we are off!

To Lake Washington! Also, longtail bikes are cool.


Taking the lane, with kids!

Big crew, stayed together well, had a great time.

The ride was a blast! This coming Saturday the ride will meet join with Bike Works in the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade! Contact me if you need more info.

was super-fun!


The following week, Little and I joined in with Critical Mass and had a great time as usual. The ride was small, as it always seems to be these days. It was also kinda short. There were three families on longtails there, including us, and it may have been our need for frequent breaks that slowed the ride down and called it short. I hope that in the future we can have it both ways, longer and funner rides and more families, too.

Here are a few pix from the ride.

Westlake Plaza, where Critical Mass gathers, has been the site of some lovely public art. Not to mention Occupy Seattle was camped here for a long time!

The Mass gathers. The trees are blue.

Hey, it’s those guys again!

Kids napping on bikes are cute. Julian is a dashing dad! That’s Seattle Bike Blogger, Tom with the beard.

Nonplussed at Critical Mass.

Wooden handlebars? Very cute, very crafty! More dangerous than carbon-fiber? I’m not sure. The rider loves ‘em!

Through Pike Place Market.

Then Myrtle Edwards Park.

And then we stopped at the shore and Little and I pulled off to head home. Also, our crappy camera died. Hey, I know that it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but I can live with that! I am a poor photographer and my camera sucks. Sorry!

Critical and Kidical Mass are both coming up again soon. We hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading!