23 January 2007

Plugging for the polka ride: A brief but enthusiastic nod to the Critical Mass counterculture

Critical Mass usually isn't my thing--I'm always the person who lectures about traffic laws and trail etiquette and explains that corporate sponsorship is a necessary evil that can boost the exposure and credibility of nonprofit organizations, the person who will insist--as you shake your head and roll your eyes in disbelief--that for every hippie, health nut, and broke college student wheeling along in provocative, self-proclaimed defiance of some sort of cultural norm, there are dozens of perfectly ordinary people who quietly happen to enjoy biking for fun and/or find it a practical mode of transportation, the person who sighs and pleads--rhetorically--why can't we all just get along?

As for nonideological reasons why I don't usually join Critical Mass, the north side is actually a pretty good distance away from the south side (a fact that few people seem to fully comprehend), so biking from there to here and back again is a pretty long haul. It's often easier to just pretend that I have better things to do on a Friday evening.

That being said... I have to admit that pedaling along with a thousands-strong hoard of bicycle enthusiasts whose openly secret goal is to snarl rushhour traffic in the Loop and Near North makes for a devilishly good time. Insert winky face here.

So I'll probably be heading up this Friday for the polka ride; my froworkers who are bike people assure me that it's the most fun you can have while shivering in single-digit wind chills. (That reminds me--I haven't gone ice skating lately.) In the middle of winter I allow myself the luxury of not being a purist, so I'd have no qualms with taking the bus part of the way.

Anyone else care to join? It won't compromise your ability to be a nice person and follow the rules in most other situations, I promise.

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