Before May, I’d never been on a Critical Mass ride. I’d heard of the group, watched a couple of videos, read an article or two but never tried to join a ride or even look further into it. Though on the last Friday in May I was strolling back from the city centre down Middle Meadow Walk when I noticed some chalkings on the ground. They read “Critical Mass, Ride Here, 7:00pm, 30th May”, “Huh” I thought, “That could be good” so I headed home to investigate. After finding out rides start at 5:30 and with nothing to do that couldn’t be put off, I decided to make an evening of it.
5:00pm rolled around and I headed out to the meeting spot which for the Edinburgh mass is The Scottish National Gallery on The Mound. When I arrived there wasn’t a cyclist in sight though this was probably due to my tendency to be ridiculously early for things. I took a seat on that stone stepped pyramid thing and waited, wondering what to expect. It wasn’t long before people and bikes started appearing, road bikes, hybrids, mountain bikes, singlespeeds, Dutch bikes. Some had flags, some bikes were dressed with decoration and two of them with rack mounted sound-systems. Everyone was chatting and having fun, music was playing and the bright Scottish sun was being enjoyed.
The aim is to meet from 5:30 and ride from 6. A short speech was made outlining intentions of the group and traffic laws then we rode out. Taking an easy pace through the city streets we shouted and hollered as passers by took in the spectacle of 40 bike riders in one mass, mirrored only by the peloton of The Tour de France. As we made our wiggly way around the city I was learning the geography of Edinburgh. I arrived in the city last September to attend uni and had never fully explored but being able to cruise around with people who know the city well was a great opportunity. We hit the Meadows at 7pm to catch up with other folks who saw the chalk or weren’t able to make the 5:30 meet, had more laughs and chat then continued on our pedal powered way. More passers by took photos and were handed flyers to explain what the group were about. Eventually we reached the top of Calton Hill with a setting summer sun view over the city and the terminus of our ride.
Since then I’ve been on every ride since, and enjoyed each as much as the first. I’ve met some great people through going and increased my knowledge of Edinburgh immensely. If you live or find yourself in this fine city on the last Friday of the month, remember 5:30 outside the National Gallery or 7 at the bottom of Middle Meadow walk and don’t hesitate to join us, it’s fun.