I joined the ride in New Oxford Street. The traffic had been brought to a complete standstill – and I think that the CM was probably only partly responsible. Buses, taxis and cars were gridlocked around the junction under Centrepoint. Frustrated by the complete non-movement of the traffic, the Mass moved forward and gathered at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. There was much cheering and some sweets were handed out. We didn’t need to attempt to block the junction as the traffic seemed to have done that by itself.
We began to cycle west along Oxford Street and, to my surprise, we took a sharp right turn up towards the Euston Road. Being a warm evening, there were hoards of drinkers standing outside pubs. They all seemed to enjoy the spectacle of the Mass as it passed and there was much cheering and laughing.
We pedalled into the night. I bumped into a few people I knew from earlier rides. The Mass can seem a solitary experience if you don’t turn up with a group of friends. Not knowing what the route is, it probably can seem quite bizarre for the newcomer. Apart from the odd hooting taxi driver or impatient motorist, the Mass moved on west towards Regents Park. It almost seemed, dare I say it, non-eventful.
Until we reached the Marylebone Road. Emerging from an inconspicuous side street, we crossed at a wide pedestrian junction. Traffic stretched back ten or 15 cars deep. Massers blocked the junction longer than the drivers expected at a simple pedestrian crossing and the horns started. Some drivers though remained good humoured and were waving at us. It was Friday night afterall. We roared back at those drivers sounding their horns the longest. There was a lot of noise. Some drivers seem to think that the longer they use their horn, the more successful they will be. If only they realised.
We cycled into a dark side street on the border of Regents Park. From the noise, jeering and car horns of the main road, the atmosphere seemed now quiet and still. We meandered around Regents Park and ended up in Camden Town. A spontaneous street party broke out at the main junction. Bystanders started taking photographs on their mobile phones and the sound system blared out.
It almost felt as if we would finish here until the sound of a siren prompted the Mass to continue and we headed back down to St Pancras. The Mass seemed to thin at this point. It had been a long route. We cycled through Holborn and to the City, past the old Foundry building. As we went south through Bishopsgate, some City lads shouted “Get a taxi!”. This was met with the curt reply from a Masser to my right. “Get a life mate!”.
The Mass was very thin by the time it reached Fleet Street. Some massers had left, some were heading towards Soho and some went south on Waterloo Bridge. I think some cyclists headed back to the start at the NFT.
As I’ve mentioned before, with The Foundry now closed, there seems no natural finish point for the Mass. We need suggestions for a bar…..
Tragedy at Critical Mass in Porto Alegre in Brazil. Another lunatic motorist.