Monday, March 19, 2007

Burnaby Lake or Bust

Well, last week we went insane.
Yes, insane. Despite the rain, we had a vocal faction push push push for BURNABY MOUNTAIN. Oh yes, Burnaby Mountain. There were a some groans and moans, but the Burnaby plan won out and folks bucked up and pushed it. We rode down to Broadway and pushed it East to the Lougheed Highway aiming for SFU. Of course, this plan was far to insane to actually work, but it was just crazy enough to get us to a beautiful new destination - Burnaby Lake. In retrospect it might have been a bit too much of a push, but standing on the dock out in the middle of the lake, I felt pretty good.

Before I get on with the photo recap, I want to bring up an issue that several people have approached me with - that being the speed of MM rides, and some issues around group dynamics. There has been a very interesting discussion on the topic on the Fixed Vancouer Forum (you don't have to be a member to read it - go have a look), but it boils down to some people feeling uncomfortable with the pace of some rides and that as a whole the group is not cohering at crucial times.

I want all people to feel comfortable coming to Midnight Mass, and that means people on freak bikes and BMXs, people new to biking, people with old beaters they've just salvaged, messengers, bike nuts, fixie kids, and fast riders. Some folk have mentioned to me that they feel that the pace being set by our fastet riders is compromising the cohesion of the group as a Mass. Others have suggested to me that we just leave the sprinters to separate and push themselves ahead and let the mass cruise behind them. There is no easy solution to this issue, however I'll say that my major concern with having the sprinters just push out ahead and let everyone else just ignore them is that there are always a variety of riders at the mass, some of them new to the whole thing and some of them who just don't know the sprinters and their habits. As a result, in practice, the pace of the ride (intentional or not) tends to be bumped up as some people try and keep the sprinters in sight, and the rest try and keep up with those wh are trying to keep the sprinters in sight. At the end, the newer or weaker riders, or those on bikes less mechanically efficient (yes, many of us have switched to road bikes and fixies, but ALL bikes are welcomed and, in fact, variety is encouraged at Midnight Mass). I understand where the sprinters are coming from - it IS fun to ride fast - and I want everyone to have fun at mass, certainly - but my feeling is that this is a group ride that specifically targets itself to bikers of all abilities. What makes it the midnight mass is that we are a mass, not a streched chain (though I think those who have pointed out that last week this problem was particularly exacerbated by the route we took).

I'm not advocating specifically for a slow ride or a leisure cruise or something, but I do believe that we need to make an effort to accomodate the ability of the slowest rider in the pack. That means that some rides will be faster, and some slower depending on who shows up - a rainy night where the hardcores are there might be a good hard push across town, and a balmy clear night where someone on a cruiser with ape hangers and 3 new kids who pulled their rusy old mountain bikes from under mom's portch will of necessity be a slower, more chilled ride. We've never had to ditch someone because they couldn't keep up before, and that to me is a point of pride and a symbol of what MM is about. Yes, its about riding - but its also about meeting new people, finding new places, chilling out, building community and just creating a fun atmosphere. Besides, there are lots of opportunities for the all of the sprinters to get their engines revved around town- hey fixie happens every week, fast nights every 2 weeks, and the rushour races (find out about all of these rides at

As I mentioned above, there is no simple solution here and this is something that we as a group will need to adress, particularly as the Mass grows as the summer months approach. In the mean time, I think those at the front of the ride need to make an effort to keep one eye on how far you are ahead of folks, and to stop and mass up at stoplights, at the top of and at the bottom/runout of big hills. Being a group is what makes this ride work!

Anyway, enough with the serious talk, and on to the photos from the last ride!

Here we are bombing Lougheed... Red Sara here is on her virgin MM ride! Welcome Red!

After a good push down Lougheed, we stopped for a rest and beverage break underneath a burnaby overpass. Huzzah for trains!

It was at this point that we decided that climbing the mountain was perhaps, under the circumstances, not the best idea. Everyone was damp, and more than a few riders were a little burnt out. We decided instead to hit a shorter destination, and rolled south to Burnaby Lake. Despite the grim weather, it was worth it for what we got... This is a place we will definitely have to visit in the summer time.

Hot scotch was drank, the view admired, and shivers shivvered.

Soon we hit the road again and rolled Van-ward. At Boundary Road, those of us who weren't too cold or tired or didn't have to get up at some absurd hour the following morning hit up the 24 hour Knight and Day for 3 AM breakfast, onion rings, and desert. mmmmmmm.

Join us this week for the next Midnight Mass - Thursday March 22nd. Meet at 11:45 pm,
Grandview Park (Charles St at Commercial Drive, across from Havana and Turks), roll at midnight. Come ride with us and find out what it's really about.

In other bikenews - check out the following great stuff this weekend!

Saturday, March 24

Speak out against the gateway project and assert the presence of a bike community in Surrey!

The date and time is set for 3:30pm on Saturday March 24, rain or shine, meeting in the plaza outside the Central City tower (the big tower at Surrey Central Skytrain). There is a VACC meeting that ends at 3pm just across the street in the North Surrey Recreation Centre building.

Flyers and posters available for download at:

Planning and promotion is taking place on the new Surrey Critical Mass email list. If you'd like to join, or if you live in Surrey, please email . You can also signup online at

*~~Bicycle CARcass III~~*
Sunday, March 25

An Afternoon of Bike Sportage & Funtasy in the Republic of East Vancouver.

Sunday, March 25 2oo7, 1:00 pee emm at Strathcona Park (on Venables, 4 blocks East of Clark)

Roster to include:
~ The Whip-Lash ~ The Tubes of Despair ~
~ The Excalibur Challenge ~ The Foot-Down Derby ~
~ The Blind Race ~ Capture the Grub ~
~ The End of the World as You Glue It ~
~ The Panty Race ~ The Ecar Ytnap ~
~ The Balloon Smack-Down ~
~ Silliness ~ Contusions ~

And of course... *~The Bicycle CARcass~*
bikes + rugby = nine-one-one

Free, Vegan-friendly, Kids welcome. Costumes encouraged. Open to Fighters, Lovers & Spectators.
Any ol' bike will do. Wear armour or die. And maybe bring duct tape.

For more information, go to

And, last but not least, Chopper Sundays/ Freak Bike Sunday Sessions continue at the pedal play shop - I dropped in this weekend to check it out and got a sneak peak of Morgan's new Tallbike in progress!

Drop by the pedal play shop (194 3rd avenue - Alley entrance... Look for the 'Pedal Metal Studios' sign) sundays to check it out!

Thats all for now, see you cats on the road.

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