Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An open letter to the WestEnder regarding their column on Critial Mass

Steve Burgess, columnist for the WestEnder (most notable for his dull travelogues, of late) last week wrote a pretty negative column based essentially on one woman's (dubious?) account of her experience being 'attacked' at critical mass. Reading the article made my blood pressure rise to dangerous levels but I let myself cool off before writing a letter to the editor. Unfortunately, I probably let myself cool off too long to actually get my letter printed (though I did send it in). I figured that I might as well circulate it to where it can be read, whether it ends up in the paper or not. My favorite part is when he closes with "Idiots are everywhere, I realize. How does it help to put some of them on bikes?". I thought long and hard before I decided not to respond with the obvious cheapshot "Idiots are everywhere, how does it help to have them writing front page columns." If we want to win public opinion, we have to refrain from injecting the same kind of venom and childishness into the debate.

You can read Burgess' article here

My letter is as follows:

It is unfortunate that the Westender feels the need to lower itself by publishing such inflammatory, and vitriolic material as Steve Burgess' recent column on Critical Mass. Indeed, it is unfortunate that Mr. Burgess relied on one person's account of an event and a lot of personal opinion for the bulk of his piece. Had he done his research (a quick Google search would have done), Mr. Burgess would have found that CM is not an 'organization' and hence has no 'leaders' whom he could have contacted. The Mass, rather, is just that – a mass of people, in most cases with little or no connection to each other, united by the love of bicycles and the desire to ride together. The corollary to this diversity is an intense diversity in motivation among participants. Certainly to some, CM is a protest in the traditional vein, but to many others it means many different things – a ride with friends or family, a chance to safely cruise the streets of downtown, a street carnival complete with tall bikes, mini bikes, music and people in costume, a place to meet new people or network, or just a chance to use public space in a different way. It seems to me that the Mass is much less of a protest against cars than it is a celebration of bicycles. Of course, there are occasionally confrontations between angry motorists and cyclists (I've seen some myself, though never anything that approached the 'hockey riot' scenario Burgess describes). In these cases I find it crucial to point out that the majority of the tense incidents are centered around one thing: safety. Yes, cyclists in the mass do violate traffic ordinances when they 'cork' streets to allow riders through a red light – this is done in the interests of safety. Should the mass become split and cars get between cyclists, drivers will try and get out – usually through cyclists. Situations like this are when cars become surrounded. Riders see the opportunity for a driver to attempt to cut through the mass and will place themselves to make absolutely sure that the car does not move anywhere until all riders have safely passed. I understand that this may appear threatening to a driver, but what drivers must understand is that a five-thousand pound machine revving its engine and inching forward appears pretty threatening to us too. My experience has been that tension and raised voices are nearly always a byproduct of fear. Before passing judgment on Critical Mass, I urge Steve Burgess (and indeed, anyone else concerned or even interested) to come out and actually ride in one. You might even have a good time.


So I went and grtabbed a WE today to see if they had printed any responses to Burgess' column - I've talked to a lot of people who told me they'd wrote in because they were upset. To my surprise, I found that aside from the Rant/Rave section, the WE contained no printed letters from readers on any subject. Tell me, now, how are readers to respond to information they find upsetting, incorrect, or conversely, gratifying? It seems to me that the public is not well served by one way communication with our media. Moreover, as a member of the cycling community, I find it distressing that we have been essentially openly attacked by a media outlet without any effective fora for response.

So, bikers and non-bikers alike, if this bothers you too write a quick email to the WE - you can hit them up at

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mini bike revolution!

Hey there minibikelovers!

Looking for another way to get your mini on? Planning is now underway for Friday, September 22nd's unveiling of the first ever Alley Kitten challenge!

That's right, an Alley Cat on mini bikes. You better freakin' believe it!

Want details? All you need to race for the taste...

This event is a part of the Vancouver Velomutation weekend of bikelove - four days of bike culture, bike parties, and bikelove. Check the website for more details.

In other news, the first ever Midnight Undie ride was a smashing success with approximately 80 riders, a good 70% or so of them in their skivvies!

I'm rather desperate for photos of the ride, however, so if you've got some pass them on and we'll see if we can get them online here! Hit me up at midnightsimon))at(( if you've got anything you'd like to share. Until then, see you on the road!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Polo in the park

Bike polo tomorrow (saturday).

Strathcona Park, 1:30 pm.


Boom box (if ya gots one)

We'll supply the mallets.

Also, anyone with pictures from last night's Midnight Undie ride - send 'em my way, I'm looking for pictures to publish here. Hit me up at midnightsimon**at**

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Industry industry...

Hello again cyclesomniacs - seems like it was just yestarday that we rode, but we're mere days away from the first ever MIDNIGHT UNDERWEAR RIDE! Thats right - this thursday come out prepared to put your pedals to the metal in your skivvies - or if you're shy, at least laugh at (with!) those who do! Tighty whiteys, fancy lace, corset, boxers, christmas undies, bras bras bras, undershirts, thongs, granny undies, stockings, the list goes on - Midnight Mass loves variety in underwear almost as much as we love variety in bikes! So pick out your favorite pair and come meet us at GRANDVIEW PARK, THURSDAY AUGUST 24TH - Meet at 11:45, roll at midnight.
For comfort (it seems to be getting a tad chillier these days) perhaps show at the park with your clothes on and we'll drop to the skivvies right before we ride..

Heavy duty planning and excitement in the road up to the Vancouver Velomutation Bikelove weekend! Thursday the 21st of September right on through to Sunday the 24th are four days packed with more bike fun than you can shake a stick at. Expect the opportunity to meet and greet bikers from Victoria, Seattle, Portland, and perhaps even farther flung locales! So far, the lineup looks like this:
)))Thursday the 21st - Bike movies and Midnight Mass!
)))Friday the 22nd - The First International ALLEY KITTEN mini bike courrier style race (more details on this wild event coming soon)
)))Saturday the 23rd - Bicycle CARcass sports at Strathcona Park - Speed Freaks Alley Cat race, also starting at Strathcona park. (reg/start time TBA) - and the Main Event - VELOMUTATION, THE PARTY! Featuring performances by Vancouver's own B:C:Clettes and Brakes (all boy mini bike burlesque..!), as well as portland's original Sprockettes. Dont miss this party. (pedal play shop, 194 w. 3rd ave. Enter thru the alley - 9pm until late)
)))Sunday the 24th - Mini Bombing down large hills? Also, possible Polo?
For more info on this wild and crazy weekend of bikelove, check out the brand spanking new Velomutation weekend blogsite:


Sunday's Polo at the Little 100 went smashingly, and we've got some new converts. We'll be trying to get this stuff going regularly into september so that we can get some practice in and field a couple of teams with a chance to compete against the Yanks when they come up here for Velomutation. To get on the polo updates email list, hit me up at midnightsimon))at((


Last ride's photos & recap!
All photos this week by our talented shutterman, Oker - Check out his flickr site. (Thanks once again Oker!)

This week we had about 35-40 riders, and ventured East for only the second time ever. First time Masser (B:C:Clette, and full time bike babe) Rhiannon led us out to a super-secret location that blew everyone's mind!

The Meet & Greet at Grandview Park:

Bombing the drive:

And the Grassy Fields of New Brighton Park:

Of course, New Brighton does have a pool...

But after getting the hairy eyeball from the security guard, we decided it was perhaps time to roll out:

Then Rhiannon took us to the refinery - a steep climb followed by a ride through a dark, dark, dark gravel path in the forest (this was pretty sweet actually). Riding eastward to an unknown location had an added benefit of keeping the group solid and together - usually, riders peel off at variying stages of the ride as they get tired, or start to think about work the next day a little too much. This ride, however, we kept virtually everyone with us once we'd crossed east into burnaby. It was pretty cool to have that cohesion.

Rolling westward again, the group began to break up on hastings st. A pack of us managed to roll to Pizza garden together, however, for tasty 2 am Pizza..

So come roll with us again this week - who knows where we'll end up. 11:45 @ Grandview park, ride @ midnight. Bring your undies.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A call for planners, dreamers, ideas, volunteers, and more...

Hello good bikers!

Planning is just beginning for a
Bike Building Event
in October. (Date proposed Oct 20, 21, 22.)

The vision so far includes chopper building, regular bike building, and other bike-related workshops.
Also potentially featuring a dance party at warehouse/studio space and rumours of food provided for the weekend.
Probable location PedalPlay and Depot spaces, plus Simon's place.
Satellite workshops also possible if someone(s) wants to make it happen.

NEXT MEETING is for other people who want to come to create a RAD weekend event where we work, learn, inspire, come together as different biking organizations, and hep this community GROW and be healthy.

We are meeting on THURSDAY Aug 24th at 7pm at Jane and RusL's place on South Main - for the adress please email midnightsimon))AT((
PotLuck if you can.

Aug 24 meeting is for people who are interested in producing this event
in some form or another, this also means helping to define the event - what kind of activities/workshops/events would you like to see? Come contribute! Bike Movies? Bike Stencils? Bike Button making? Bike crafts? why not - think you have an idea that would work, or want to organize a workshop or activity bring it with you!

So far, emphasis is on:
-bikes, building, fixing, learning how to do all of the above (freak, regular, mini, whatever... ifny has a bunch of bikes to donate!)
-peer education... lots of people with knowledge to share, people who want to learn
-community created event - a chance to network and make the community tighter
-accessible, for people who cannot afford it and for those who can
-safe, inclusive, tolerant, welcoming to all.

So far there has only been one discussion about getting this project off the ground, (basically, to say 'hey - lets schedule an event for october!), so if this sounds like something fun to you, come join us and help get the ball rolling! Both the essential focus of the event and the activities that would take place are still yet to be defined, so come out if you want to be involved in this aspect.

Also come out if you have ideas for workshops or events, skills that you think you could contribute to the event, or anything else that you think would be helpful that you would like to contribute!

The meeting takes place on this thursday, before Midnight Mass. Remeber, this week's ride is UNDERWEAR THEMED, so come on out and ride in your skivvies!

Recap of last ride to come tomorrow - over and out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bike Polo!

Tomorrow - Sunday August 20th - Strathcona Park (google it if you need directions)

Scheduled to coincide with the Little 100 cruiser race.

Polo starts at 1 pm.

You bring the bikes, we'll bring the mallets.

over and out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

and bigger yet...

Allright kids - I apologize for taking so long to get a recap of our last ride up but I've been in recovery mode from the nasty spill I took at the end of last ride, which has involved much sleeping, vitamin E, T3s, and the occasional crazy bike party in seattle. I'm back in action though, and only slightly less pretty than ever.

Just a reminder, we ride again this THURSDAY, AUGUST 10TH as well as our (lets say, weather permiting) Underwear Ride which takes place Thursday August 24th. Of course, riding in your undies'll be optional - but I mean, who wants to be the kid at the lantern festival who doesn't have a lantern? The next day of course is critical mass (Leaves the art gallery @ 6 pm), which is followed by the traditional aprez party at the Anza Club. Also of interest, there will be a Mini Bike Army ride in the very near future, so check back here or even better, for more details.

Okay, so with all of that out of the way, lets get to recapping the July 27th ride! Once again, the last ride was the biggest ride yet. Its at the point now that every ride is the biggest ride! Lets hold some of this momentum into the fall and winter - prove that a little weather never stopped a Vancouver biker.

This last ride, as we possed up at grandview park, we realized that we had at least 80+ bikers - this is amazing - it means that our rides are reaching critial mass proportions... Vancouver - we are awesome.

From the park we cut south to First Ave. and bombed the hill en-masse down to Clark where we dominated the bridge over to terminal and re-massed at science world:

(photo by Oker)

Then it was westwards, skirting false creek, to Grandville island. We possed up again (maintaining group cohesion with so many riders is a new challenge we're finding - however, the stops allow a social aspect to the rides which would be missed if the didn't happen)..

(photo by Oker)

(photo by Oker)

After massing up we took a quick spin around G.I. - including a tour up, and bomb down, one of the parking garages. (I love parking garages)

(photo by Oker)

Oker - the man behind the camera!

(photo by Oker)

From here we proceeded westward again to the beach where skinney dipping may or may not have occured. Wouldn't you like to know. Show up on thursday and maybe you'll find out!

Thats it for this installment. See you on thursday, and roll safe in the meantime.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Dead Baby Downhill - Northwest bikers meet, network, party their freaking arses off

The Dead Baby Downhill - one part downhill all-bike-class (from mini to tall, fixie to tourer, 10 speed to chopper - you name it) race, one part show (bands, bands, bands, performances by the oh so lovely (did I say lovely, I mean freaking HOT and inspirational) B:C:Clettes and Portland's own equally freaking hot and inspirational Sprockettes), one part bicycle skill competition (mini and tall bike jousting, bunny hops, skid comp, ect) one part chance to meet and network with bikers from vancouver to portland, and all parts PARTY. Sound like a good time? It is. This year among the some two dozen (!) vancouverites traveling down to the downhill were at least three distinct crews down acting in ambassadorial capacity - the 'Clettes, MC3 (Vancouver's venerable and legendary chopper collective), and a fresh faced pack of kids repping the Midnight Crew - Tim, Kati, Sascha, and Mark all proved themselves hardcore riding down there, while I (hey, I'm wounded ok?) took the cushy route and snagged a ride with some of the other Vancouverites driving down.

Friday morning, bright and early, we rise and roll our tired asses down to the pedal depot where we meet up and organize our automotive seating plans for the ride down:

With surprisingly few delays (a first for vancouverites!) we were on the road and at the border in no time. Jack, who had been denied entry once before (insufficiant ties and equities... yeah, right, like any of us would want to sneak into your country to STAY. get real) used a combination of smooth talking and impressively organized doccumentation to get us past the boder guards and then it was onwards to Seattle - with a quick pitstop by one of our teams to pick up a couple of canadians we'd linked up with who are on the first leg of a tour to Tiajuana. Damn.

We arived in town with plenty of time for chillin out. MASSIVE, MASSIVE thanks to dead baby Soren for providing us with a beautiful place to call home base (a nice top-of-an-awesome-old-house apartment with a eye-popping bike workshop), as well as guiding our clueless foreigner asses around!

- soren's workshop... there were some crazy and beautiful bikes in there -

-long car rides to funny things to bikers...-

-refreshments upon arrival-

Apparently there was some kind of airshow on that weekend, but we kept getting buzzed by jets all afternoon - fighters like these ones, but also big transports that said Navy on them. I suppose the rationale was that they were warming up for/ advertising the airshow - but all that flying around over the city really made me wonder if it was intentional for other reasons. "Remember! we are at war! don't worry though, we're in control - we're badass! our army is invincible. Just keep quiet and let us handle things and it will all be all right..."
Or maybe I'm just cynnical.

After recharghing our batteries it was onto the downhill:

-Chris B, Sascha, and Cowboy Tim after checking in for the race ($20 transforms itself into a t-shirt with your race number and a dead baby bikes waterbottle that is good for as much beer as you can drink at the kegs at the bottom of the race)-

-sascha and his fixie - the next day he proved how crazy he is by buying a chainring twice that size. okay, well thats obviously an exaggeration - but not much of one.

-the cowboy tooling up his mini, getting ready to take on the zoobombers

The 'Clettes/MC3's charming and mystirous Nix - and our good friend Sparks!

-Mark Reverse (how does he do those backwards cicrles?) repping the Midnight crew-

-James and Sara, of Portland's sprockettes-

-redsara, and in the background portland's Gabe aka Captain Fun-

and then we race.
and if you come next year
you'll find out what that part is like.

At the bottom, the babies have provided us with a full on party.

Kati and Nina at the bottom of the race

pedal powered rides!(!)

Soon it was time for Vancouver's velovixens, the B:C:Clettes--

-Damn. Our city is an exciting place with some amazing people in it. These women rock.

Then it was time for the Sprockettes - the mothers of the synchromized dance movement..

The footdown derby followed. If you've never been in a derby before, the rules are simple. Ride in a circle. don't put your foot on the ground - if you do, you're out. pretty much everything else goes - checking, shoving, sliding, bumping - whatever you think you can pull off. the crowd moves in and shrinks the arena as time goes on. We did 3 - I made final 4 in one of them on my road bike, which I think is pretty good, but Ifny showed her mini skill by winning a a round, and competing in the sudden death final:

Then onto the tallbike jousting. Unfortunately, no pictures of the event survived, as the free beer was flowing pretty heavily at that point. However, Cowboy Tim - in his first ever tallbike joust (first ever tallbike ride? correct me tim) won several matches handily, and Vancouver's own Tall Paul made it right to the final fight against legendary tallbike jouster Dead Baby Ken. Alas, ken took home the trophy. Looks like we'll have to train up. I might be crazy, but its also possible that that was Tall Paul's first joust. If so, watch out Seattle, we're coming for you.

From there we partied late into the night - ending eventually at Denny's at about 4 am where I had an item on the menu called the 'Heartland Scramble' which consisted of a large portion of scrambled eggs (which scrambled into them, had bacon, potatoes, cheese, onions, and green pepers), a side of hashbrowns, two strips of bacon, two sausages, and three pancakes. This was one menu item. I was reminded once again that we were in the USA.

The following day we went out for breakfast at a great little brunch joint called the Globe with some crazy ass and varied menu choices, before being led by Soren on a fun little tour/ freak bike parade (I love traveling with MC3 - their bikes and personalities never fail to attract positive attention from all sides) of Seattle before heading to the park to check in on the Seattle bike polo players, who were in a bit of a throwdown with the Portland kids.


Alas, all good things come to an end. Eventually the last of us car folk put our tourers from Montreal and Saskatchwean in touch with the Reverend Phil and some of the other portland kids and packed our weary asses up with much tiredness and a little more regret. Tim, Chris, Sascha and Kati stayed the night and are likely en route back to Vancouver right now.
Another sucessful ambassadorial, and we leave with the ties that bind these three cities a little tighter. Its one culture - if we pedal hard enough, we can make the border dissapear.