I started out at 5:45 in Tommy Nevin's Pub, thinking some of us may be hanging out there for a pre-ride libation, but I walked all around the crowded bar and didn't see anyone I recognized--not that I'd necessarily recognize anyone, but, you know. So I headed up to Fountain Square and met up with John, who was beginning to panic a little as he was the only one there in the chilly November plaza. The two of us chatted and were soon joined by Vic, Aaron, Paul, Jared and others (my apologies for missing a name or two). We waited until almost 7:15 for one other fellow who had been messaging us all evening and was stymied by the CTA's rush hour bike ban, but he never showed up, so we took off.
Our little band of bikes headed west down Davis, north on Oak and east on Church. At Church & Maple, we stopped off and met with the little group that was Occupy Evanston. They seemed quite pleased to have us drop in on their demonstration as we basically instantly doubled their numbers. They declined our offer of cold beer from the bike trailer, pointing out the police officer across the street sitting in his cruiser and staring in horror at a gang of bicyclists joining up with the Occupiers for who knows what nefarious purpose? I would have loved to hear the panicked police radio call on our arrival. One of the women there was dead set on having Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, thrown in jail, and repeatedly told us so, so we all nodded in agreement. Another fellow told me I absolutely had to help prevent the privitization of city forestry and street snow plowing jobs, as private companies would never plow the snow from our streets as well as the city workers do. I had to disappoint him by telling him I thought Evanston spent far too much already on automobile infrastructure and I'd be just as happy if we left the snow in the roads all winter to melt in the springtime. He seemed deflated, but soon decided that I'd have to support clearing the roads for ambulances and fire trucks, so we left it at that. After five minutes of chitchat and camaraderie, we left the Occupy Evanstonians, who sent us off shouting "Critical Mass! Critical Mass!"
We rode north on Maple, then east on Clarke, turning south on Sherman. We had no map, but since everyone in the Mass (except me) was from Chicago, we'd head the Mass that direction to get the majority of us in the direction home. At Dempster, we cut east to Chicago Avenue, rode a few blocks down that and turned east again to Sheridan, which we rode down to Rogers Park and Uptown. Along the way, we picked up two additional riders, who rode with us for a while and then headed their own way.
We ended the ride at a taqueria, El Ranchito, at Clark & Wilson where we had a nice chat over enchiladas and huaraches, Jarritos and beer. One of our group fed the jukebox and soon the walls were shaking with Ennio Morricone's theme to the Clint Eastwood movie, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Surprisingly, no one in the place came over and punched us.
One by one we left until only Jared, John & I remained. The three of us rode north on Clark. At Lawrence, the other two headed west to their respective homes, and I continued north on Clark, through Uptown, Andersonville and Rogers Park. It always amazes me when I cross the Howard street city border into Evanston, how much darker the streets suddenly are, particularly along the cemetery up to South Boulevard.
It was a nice Evanston Critical Mass.