The Chainlink

Peace All,

Red Bike & Green + The Pioneers Bicycle Club present...

The Southside Ride for Chicago Critical Mass

This Critical Mass route proposal is a 14-mile tour of some of Chicago's African-American cultural & historical landmarks. Highlights along the route will include the site of the Chess Records studios, the Bronzeville Victory Monument, Ida B. Wells' home, the Harold Washington Cultural Center, the DuSable Museum, the Obamas' house and much more. The ride will end at the new 31st Street marina and beach.

Check out the map at:
http://chicagocriticalmass.org/
Scroll down on the home page and click on the flyer for the full size image.

A special thanks to the lovely Eboni Senai, a true gem in our city. Her work as the Founder of Red Bike & Green - Chicago is energizing bicycling culture in the African American community of Chicago. Also want to share a huge thanks with John Greenfield, Willow Naeco, and Steven Lane for their early, active, and consistent support of this effort.

We will meet up at 5:30pm on Friday, August 31st at the Picasso statue at Daley Plaza. Please join us for a beautiful ride through parts of the Southside of Chicago!

...how about a post-ride afterparty?
Peoples DJs Collective 3YR Anniversary BBQ
2236 S. Marshall Blvd., Chicago
(block west of California & Cermak)
http://www.facebook.com/events/273511979429664/

Rock on,

Oboi
The Pioneers Bicycle Club
@theycallmeOboi

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I've posted a video. Just me standing on the sideline at a slow point, getting lots of waves and smiles. Under six minutes. http://youtube.com/watch?v=eebTBB7G9CA

And there's a MassUp.us plot at http://massup.us/ccm/r?d=20120831

It was a little fast and broken up but a good ride.

I did the race to the front then slow down to have people pass me then ride back to the front.

There's only so much you can hold a tiny handful of people accountable for-- besides Oboi and John, were any of the 'experienced' folks helping at the front?  I didn't quite understand the purpose of people racing up from the back to tell the people at the front the ride was too spread out-- if you see that happening the thing to do is to plant yourself at the front and help set the pace-- when I first caught the mass at Cermak/Michigan there were at least 200, and maybe 300 'cowboys' out ahead, basically riding as fast as they could; as with many summer rides, many or most of these folks had probably never been on a CM before.  It seemed like the front finally got the pace under control somewhere after McCormick; guessing there were few to no massups in the first two miles of the ride?

Re: wide streets and narrow streets-- at one point it was decided to mass up with the head of the ride on a one-way street which was a connector between wider streets, for something like 4 light cycles. The point about needing to recover from the narrow stretches with massups on the wider stretches is valid, so it didn't help that the reverse was done, although considering there was so little "help" at the front, it may have been much harder to hold up the front on a larger street.

But the overall problem is that too few experienced riders made the effort to get to the front and help set the pace.



Olatunji Oboi Reed said:

peace James - i appreciate your note and thank you for sharing it. your points are valid. consider this a post-ride debrief, a learning experience for me. btw, i take full responsibility for the things we need to improve on for next time. thanks again and if you have more evaluative insights, please do share!

James BlackHeron said:

It was surprising to witness the muted police presence on this ride.   I saw very few marked cars shadowing us and even the number of bikebacons in the mass itself seemed to be quite low.

I didn't even notice any extra security or cops when we passed the Obama Residence.  I was wondering how they would feel about a mass of people riding by and all the security implications that implies for the detachment that is tasked with protecting the property.  Don't taze me bro!  I wasn't looking forward to a heavy-handed over-reaction by the establishment on our passing but my fears were thankfully unfounded.

By and by a pretty good ride.  

One thing I might suggest is that ride leaders need to be aware that when they pass from a nice wide open street or boulevard and then down a very narrow choke-point that they NEED to slow down afterwards to allow the mass of bikes behind them, still within the choke-point to catch up.  

There were a number of times when the mass got REALLY skinny and sparse in the middle sections and we had a number of incidents of motor vehiciles encroaching into the mass because of this -much more than usual.   There were times when the bikes around me were traveling at excess for 15-16MPH to keep up and close the distance between us and the folks in the lead.  Gaps opened up of 200 feet at times.   15 is  WAY too fast for the average rider who comes to CCM.    These faster sprints happened on multiple occasions and I witnessed many dangerous gaps opening up in the mass.    This is a typical mistake many CCM leaders make.  Things were so much better the last couple of months with regards to this so a bit of slippage is all the more noticeable. 

But all in all it was a nice mass and I don't mean to be overly down on the way it was run.   I've seen it much worse over the years -just a few observations and opportunities to learn for next time.

hi Barbra Mann & James BlackHeron,

thanks much for the feedback. here are some quick insights...

initially i didnt pay close attn to our speed. and, unfortunately, i allowed the "bmx'ers & crew" to set the pace, much too fast. some peopled mentioned we were travelling too fast and i noticed the large gaps early on. eventually i did begin to maintain a more active stance with setting a slowed down pace. memory serving me correctly, this started at about 22nd & king drive. not perfectly done, though over time i did assert more and more control over the pace. wish we had taken a slower pace right from the beginning.

i noticed that the bikers out front naturally set the pace. and some bikers were unwilling to ride closer to the mass and stayed out front a nice distance away from us. the bikers with me (the second front, if you will) impulsively wanted to keep up with the first front. i figured out eventually that i could hold back my second front with increased verbal directions to the mass or to a few willing neighbors, therefore controlling the pace. that did start to work out fairly well.

i had a very difficult time knowing when there were gaps or when our speed was too fast (or too slow). sometimes i acted on gut, other times i acted when someone suggested it. we massed up a few times (or extended a mass up) after people recommended it. a few times when we wanted to mass up, we were challenged by a handful of bikers who went into the intersection and encouraged the mass to continue on. on at least a couple of occasions we lost the battle for a timely mass up.

the biggest lesson for me so far (i am sure there will be more) is the need for about 5 to 10 people at the front (second front ideally, allowing that first front to be free as a bird) actively maintaining our pace and route right from the beginning.

i will continue to process this experience. and please continue to share additional thoughts and learnings as well. thanks all!  


Barbra Mann said:

I agree, I was at the middle-to-back the whole ride with a friend on skates and it was hard for her to keep up. And she's not a newbie to skating, she's pretty fast.  And the gaps were sometimes harrowing. I just wish all the people who hang out at the front trying to speed it up, or resisting mass-ups would just ride back to front then front to back again instead of riding the wave.  It's hard at the front, leading, to not cave in to pressure to keep moving.  

James BlackHeron said:

It was surprising to witness the muted police presence on this ride.   I saw very few marked cars shadowing us and even the number of bikebacons in the mass itself seemed to be quite low.

I didn't even notice any extra security or cops when we passed the Obama Residence.  I was wondering how they would feel about a mass of people riding by and all the security implications that implies for the detachment that is tasked with protecting the property.  Don't taze me bro!  I wasn't looking forward to a heavy-handed over-reaction by the establishment on our passing but my fears were thankfully unfounded.

By and by a pretty good ride.  

One thing I might suggest is that ride leaders need to be aware that when they pass from a nice wide open street or boulevard and then down a very narrow choke-point that they NEED to slow down afterwards to allow the mass of bikes behind them, still within the choke-point to catch up.  

There were a number of times when the mass got REALLY skinny and sparse in the middle sections and we had a number of incidents of motor vehiciles encroaching into the mass because of this -much more than usual.   There were times when the bikes around me were traveling at excess for 15-16MPH to keep up and close the distance between us and the folks in the lead.  Gaps opened up of 200 feet at times.   15 is  WAY too fast for the average rider who comes to CCM.    These faster sprints happened on multiple occasions and I witnessed many dangerous gaps opening up in the mass.    This is a typical mistake many CCM leaders make.  Things were so much better the last couple of months with regards to this so a bit of slippage is all the more noticeable. 

But all in all it was a nice mass and I don't mean to be overly down on the way it was run.   I've seen it much worse over the years -just a few observations and opportunities to learn for next time.

awesome, thanks Andrew!

Andrew Bedno said:

I've posted a video. Just me standing on the sideline at a slow point, getting lots of waves and smiles. Under six minutes. http://youtube.com/watch?v=eebTBB7G9CA

And there's a MassUp.us plot at http://massup.us/ccm/r?d=20120831

hey Mike - thanks and i agree with your assessment. 

Mike Zumwalt said:

It was a little fast and broken up but a good ride.

I did the race to the front then slow down to have people pass me then ride back to the front.

hey h' - i love the points you make and completely agree. john and i could've used the help. on me is the fact that i should have asked more pioneers and RBG'ers to come up front to help also. yes, holding the mass back for a mass up on a large (two way & two lane or more street) with very little perpendicular traffic or little traffic on the other side of the street was like holding back a pack of wolves (meant as affectionately as possible). this was especially true at the beginning of the ride, as their was sooooooo much energy and excitement in the mass, people at the front wanted to kinda bust loose (later in the ride the front did become much more relaxed). add to that the conflicting directions given by those bikers who actively resisted the early and extended mass ups, the front was a challenge to hold at times. and this idea of using a massup as a recovery tool after going from a narrow stretch of road to a larger street is really sinking in. makes a lot of sense and not something i considered until now. great feedback all and it helps tremendously, thanks again!     

h' said:

There's only so much you can hold a tiny handful of people accountable for-- besides Oboi and John, were any of the 'experienced' folks helping at the front?  I didn't quite understand the purpose of people racing up from the back to tell the people at the front the ride was too spread out-- if you see that happening the thing to do is to plant yourself at the front and help set the pace-- when I first caught the mass at Cermak/Michigan there were at least 200, and maybe 300 'cowboys' out ahead, basically riding as fast as they could; as with many summer rides, many or most of these folks had probably never been on a CM before.  It seemed like the front finally got the pace under control somewhere after McCormick; guessing there were few to no massups in the first two miles of the ride?

Re: wide streets and narrow streets-- at one point it was decided to mass up with the head of the ride on a one-way street which was a connector between wider streets, for something like 4 light cycles. The point about needing to recover from the narrow stretches with massups on the wider stretches is valid, so it didn't help that the reverse was done, although considering there was so little "help" at the front, it may have been much harder to hold up the front on a larger street.

But the overall problem is that too few experienced riders made the effort to get to the front and help set the pace.



Olatunji Oboi Reed said:

peace James - i appreciate your note and thank you for sharing it. your points are valid. consider this a post-ride debrief, a learning experience for me. btw, i take full responsibility for the things we need to improve on for next time. thanks again and if you have more evaluative insights, please do share!

James BlackHeron said:

It was surprising to witness the muted police presence on this ride.   I saw very few marked cars shadowing us and even the number of bikebacons in the mass itself seemed to be quite low.

I didn't even notice any extra security or cops when we passed the Obama Residence.  I was wondering how they would feel about a mass of people riding by and all the security implications that implies for the detachment that is tasked with protecting the property.  Don't taze me bro!  I wasn't looking forward to a heavy-handed over-reaction by the establishment on our passing but my fears were thankfully unfounded.

By and by a pretty good ride.  

One thing I might suggest is that ride leaders need to be aware that when they pass from a nice wide open street or boulevard and then down a very narrow choke-point that they NEED to slow down afterwards to allow the mass of bikes behind them, still within the choke-point to catch up.  

There were a number of times when the mass got REALLY skinny and sparse in the middle sections and we had a number of incidents of motor vehiciles encroaching into the mass because of this -much more than usual.   There were times when the bikes around me were traveling at excess for 15-16MPH to keep up and close the distance between us and the folks in the lead.  Gaps opened up of 200 feet at times.   15 is  WAY too fast for the average rider who comes to CCM.    These faster sprints happened on multiple occasions and I witnessed many dangerous gaps opening up in the mass.    This is a typical mistake many CCM leaders make.  Things were so much better the last couple of months with regards to this so a bit of slippage is all the more noticeable. 

But all in all it was a nice mass and I don't mean to be overly down on the way it was run.   I've seen it much worse over the years -just a few observations and opportunities to learn for next time.

Asking others for help beforehand certainly helps, but really, people shouldn't need to be asked...

indeed h', great point and duly noted.

h' said:

Asking others for help beforehand certainly helps, but really, people shouldn't need to be asked...

Like I said earlier, a good rule of thumb is when the mass moves out of a "choke point" where it is slowed down for whatever reason the folks at the front need to be conscious NOT to speed up and lose the guys who are still going slow at (and before) said choke point and are still struggling to move through it.     The leaders can't go any faster than those behind them once they get back out onto a nice, wide, open street. Those behind are still in that choke point and CAN'T go faster so if the head moves faster than the body (or the tail) the Mass will naturally get too spread out.

It's human nature to WANT to speed up after one has been slowed-down to "make up for lost time" -but that very natural instinct is exactly what causes the slinky-effect as those behind you can NOT speed up until they are past the slow area. 

And yes, I understand that it is difficult to rein in the yahoos exuberant folks from blazing ahead too fast at the front of the Mass.  it isn't exactly common sense (or common knowledge) that one needs to hold back once the head of the Mass emerges from a choke point.   And yes, more of us experienced massers needed to ride to the front and help out.  But it gets tiring to fight this same battle month after month.    It wasn't super-terrible this month anyhow and the leaders hopefully learned from the experience, which only leads to more folks who actually know what is going on.   If the same few folks step up month after month and work to stop these types of minor mistakes from happening then the new guys never really get to understand why this stuff is important or how to pace the front of the mass. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMjckOhcB0g video from the mass going around Daley Plaza. Didn't get all of it. Going to put up "Happy Friday" video 3 parts from the mass turning at 51st & WoodLawn

awesome video Ace Mann, thx for sharing!

Ace Mann said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMjckOhcB0g video from the mass going around Daley Plaza. Didn't get all of it. Going to put up "Happy Friday" video 3 parts from the mass turning at 51st & WoodLawn

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