Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Critical Mass video Las Vegas 4/97

    I gotta be honest.  The quality of this video sucks and it will only appeal to the people who are in the video and the people who know those people.  I was hesitant to post it because the quality is so crappy but I'm sure the 2 dozen or so people in this video will appreciate seeing it if they ever find their way here.

    For those uninitiated Critical Mass is a political action, some would say direct action, wherein a group of people take to the streets on bicycles and take up a full lane of traffic seizing the road for bicycles.  More than anything it's just a fun ride but you can dig the statement it makes.  It's a phenomenon of sorts that's gone international and has been happening since the 70's by some estimates.  

    Being a bike lover in Vegas is a hard thing.  I had a bike the last few years I lived there but I'd be damned if I'd ride it more than once a month.  

    A few of my friends got it in their head to start a Critical Mass in Las Vegas and we got fairly consistent with it every last Friday of the month.  But we never got close to the numbers seen in other cities.  Maybe we had 3 dozen at one point but that sounds like too high a number when I think back on it.  After some time went by the number of people involved in the CM seemed to dwindle.  And then it just kind of went by the wayside all together.  

     I do recall my last Critical Mass experience in Las Vegas and it was psychotic.  I saw a flyer for the ride and somehow had a functioning bike at the time, so I decides to go.  

    The meeting place for that particular CM was the parking lot of the Cafe Espresso Roma.  From as far back as I can remember that parking lot was a funky place to hang out.  I remember spending many evenings in that same parking lot even when a bar finally opened there.  

    I rode up to the meeting place at 5pm and was shocked by the tiny contingent I saw on bikes.  Including me we had four people.  I think that number might have shrunk to three people when one of my cohorts got sick just before the ride.  I can't say for sure but this might have been my introduction to James Emmanuel Stuart and Jenifer Gryder.  I have grown to become good friends with both these cool kids and I still talk to them today.  

    That day the introduction came pretty quick and we milled around for at least 20 minutes to a half an hour waiting to see if anyone else was going to show.  It became readily apparent that it was four Critical Mass riders and that was it for this particular ride.  There was some discussion about weather this amount of people could constitute an actual "Critical Mass."  More like Pitiful Mass.  

    What the fuck ever.  We pressed on with just barely enough people to take up a full lane of traffic.  I don't think we gave a whole lot of thought as to the recklessness of such an endeavor on Las Vegas city streets, even though the sun would still be out for at least another hour and half.  

    The route started down Maryland Parkway turning West on Twain.  That was hair-raising in and of itself but when we turned on Paradise another level of insanity began.  A limosine turned onto Paradise Ave. at the same time we did.  The lady driving the limo was in a serious hurry as limo drivers are apt to be.  She laid into her car horn and didn't stop the constant blaring loudly at us from Twain until we hit Tropicana.  That's pretty far when you're riding a bicycle at 15 miles an hour.  I couldn't take the pressure and soon caved in to coming down to her level.  I dropped my pants just enough to expose my bare ass from Desert Inn until this maniac finally turned.    

    The group was pretty frazzled and somewhat deaf at that point but little did we know it would get worse.  We turned on Tropicana determined to ride it out but also ready to end it back at the Cafe parking lot.  

    That was when terror struck.  A fucking madman screeched to halt a few feet from us.  With out backs to traffic it was bone chilling to feel the car braking behind us and in our current state of confusion we were all more than a little freaked out.  A man, possibly inebriated, flung his car door open narrowly missing the traffic that was speeding by in the next lane over.  He stumbled out and let loose a stream on incoherent babbling some of which I knew to be English profanity, so I knew he was probably American, just severely loaded on something which I couldn't rightly pin down.

    No one moved from the road.  We held our ground and made the stupid son of a bitch drive around and past us to further clog up traffic somewhere further east on Trop.  After he careened by honking his horn and the whole bit we looked at each other and pretty much knew it was over.  We were scared for our fucking lives and no matter how much we were in the right we all knew it wasn't worth the risk.  We all pulled over to the sidewalk on Trop and made our way quietly back to the Cafe parking lot.  We used to end CM with a drink but that ride ended a little too dramatically for our comfort level.  I think we all just hugged and went our separate ways.

    I heard rumors to the effect that Las Vegas is currently doing Critical Mass every month.  Whether it's true I cannot say but I hope there is at least 8 to 10 people on the rides happening today in 2010.  I'd also be glad to hear there's still a few psychotic stubborn mofos that will continue to ride even if there's only one person in a lane of traffic on a bike.
    As mentioned this may only be of interest to the few people in the video.  I haven't seen many of those people for years and years.  I miss them all terribly.  I hope they still got bikes and are out there on the street.

Download Critical Mass video Las Vegas 4/1997 if you want
Or just watch the clip posted at the top.


  1. i recall making a flyer for a vegas CM which said "hey shitbags, grab a rifle and come on down to the critical mass!". I wonder why no one ever came?

    amazing we did manage to have several fun rides in such a hostile environment.

    thanks for the blast from the past- matt the fuck

  2. interesting story... I didn't know this went on in Vegas!

  3. I have gone on some of the current Critcal Masses. They would meet in front of the Fashion Show mall and then ride down the strip. There were 50+ riders maybe 100, I'm terrible at guessing crowd size. The last one I did was last halloween. The as we tried to gather at the Fashion show there were 14 cops waiting there to prevent it. They gave me 3 tickets for stupid shit just to harrass us. I havent ridden since but they meet now in front of the Student Union at UNLV. Green Valley even had a little critical mass for a while. I went on a couple of those rides too.

  4. Yeah rideing a bike or motorcycle in Vegas has always been a dangerous thing...It still is...and not too long ago I got hit by an SUV while riding in a crosswalk after school. The driver stopped and rolled down the window...said something in spanish...and then took off. It really sucked. Fuck cars! Fuck Las Vegas too.

    1. That hit and run resulted in a serious back injury fir me...long story short now I'm a heroin addict. Just kidding. But I did get hurt kindm and the cops blamed me for using the crosswalk. Fuck them.