Hang out with the pack ... in the costume of your choice


Critical Mass

Friday, Oct. 31, 5:30 p.m.

Veteran's Memorial Plaza


Every so often around this time of year, cyclists have something other than cyclocross and new leg warmers to get excited about: Halloween falls on the last Friday of the month. And, you know what that means.

Halloween Critical Mass.

Or, maybe you didn’t know, and that’s OK, too. I’m about to tell you what it is. Critical Mass is a ride that happens on the last Friday of every month in cities all over the world. The original intent was to increase visibility of cyclists in major cities and stake a claim to the streets. With its leaderless structure though, Critical Mass has taken on a number of ideas — usually about the same number as riders on the Critical Mass. Whatever reasons a person rides Critical Mass for, there is one that is still shared throughout the Mass: We are on our bikes, and we are on the streets.

There has been a Critical Mass in Indy for a long while, but until this year, it’s been far from being either critical or a mass. I went on my first Indy Critical Mass ride this past April, with maybe 15-20 other riders. I think I rode with more people for my friend Sam’s birthday the weekend after that Mass.

Something shifted over this past summer, though. Whether that shift was due to a growth in the number of Indy cyclists due to gas prices, better word-of-mouth about the Critical Mass or the new Bikes of Indy message board connecting a group of younger, more socially active cyclists depends largely on who you’re talking to. However it happened, what’s important is that it happened. The size of Indy’s Critical Mass has quadrupled over the summer, with headcounts around 75-100 the past few months.

It’s getting colder now, so of course, numbers will dwindle again. Before you stow that bike though, there is one last huzzah to be had. When else do you get to put on that Grim Reaper costume and ride around downtown Indianapolis with 75 other vampires, zombies, Stogie Dans, cardboard cars, Ninja Turtles, etc.?

After the Mass, groups tend to go get a bite to eat at Yats or other various downtown eateries. I’m sure a group will break off to go to the IndyFringe party around 7:30 at the Fringe Building at 719 East St. More environmentally-minded riders might head to plant trees and eat some chili around a bonfire at White River State Park at a party being thrown by NUVO and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, starting at 10 p.m. There’s also rumor of an alley cat race that night that some people at Critical Mass might know about if you’re interested in going fast. Feel free to ask around and hang out with the pack.

So, bring your costumed self and your bike to Veteran's Memorial Plaza around 5:30 this Friday. If you’re not quite sure where that is, ride north from Monument Circle on Meridian and look for a large group of people standing with their bikes in a park on the right; if you hit North Street, you’ve gone too far. It might be breezy, so wear a warm costume.


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