It is a modern phenomenon that would be impossible without social media platforms such as twitter, facebook and blogs such as wordpress. Social media changed the political structures of the middle east and it is changing the way cyclists meet for rides.
There is some kind of organisation behind the event, however the organisers do this behind the scenes. This is so refreshing. As much as what we need the larger corporates to put on events such as the BSG tri series and the Momentum 94.7 cycle challenge it is nice to do something without being surrounded by logos.
The ride takes you through parts of Johannesburg that you would probably never go through in your car during the day. Safety in numbers truly does work. The locals spilled out of the pubs and clubs to watch what truly is an amazing spectacle. In one section of town we were surrounded by blocks of flats with the residents waving and blowing vuvuzelas as we rode by.
Critical Mass is not a race; there is no winner and no medal. Most cycling events get you to compete against other cyclists and against your own times. Here you ride with each other, and the sense of community is great. 99% of the people are courteous and polite. A small group had a bit too much to drink and apparently caused a bit of trouble. Two of the Father Christmas cyclists got into a fight with a motorist who now has a slightly skewed opinion of chubby guys in red suits.
I rode with some of the guys from Felt and had the privilege of riding one of their cruisers. The bike was brilliant and got a lot of attention. You really want to ride with something slightly different. If you have a standard road or mountain bike try and pimp it up a bit with lights e.t.c. The bike I rode was a Felt Cruiser and has three gears encased in the rear hub, and you back pedal in order to activate your back brake. The front brake is housed in the hub. You can get more details of their cruiser range on www.feltbicycles.com/South-Africa/2013/Lifestyle/Cruisers-Series.aspx.
I would not ride in normal cycling pants and tops. The idea is to not just to ride urban, but to look urban as well. Again, most cycling kits are covered in logos and this is not about riding with logos. Despite it taking place in the middle of summer the city did get a bit chilly later on. I would suggest packing a light jacket.
The mass of cyclists stop from time to time so that everyone can regroup. There is a longer stop midway near a series of restaurants where we had pizzas and something to drink. Bring a bit of cash for this.
Some riders did not wear helmets. I would always recommend riding with a helmet. We also had lights on the front and back of the bikes. Safety must always come first.
I hope to see you at the next Critical Mass event!.