Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finding My Masa

A little over a week ago, I had the good fortune of going to Masa Critica here in BsAs. For those of you who don’t speak bicycle, Masa Critica or Critical Mass is the only day a month when cyclists ride in a massive pack. For one day, we are stronger than the mighty car, able to control the roads simply by virtue of the fact that there’s so damn many of us.

It was a cloudy spring day, the sunshine fighting as hard as a cyclist in Buenos Aires traffic to come out. We took the train down to the Retiro train station and on the ride I made a new friend, Julian who was also holding onto his bike as we bumped along. Julian asked me if we were going to Masa Critica. Yes, we were, I responded and Julian joined me and my friend and a journalist from a local paper while we rode along the widest road in the world, Avenieda de 9 de Julio to arrive at Obelisco.

When we arrived, there was a small crew of bikers. My favorite part of Critical Mass everywhere (I have been in DC, San Fran and now BsAs) is the diversity of the attendees. Here there were young and old, the heavily spandexed, the heavily hipstered and everything in between. There was a bike gang with shirts emblazoned with a bike and lightening lettering proclaiming so. A family with their nine-year old who was enjoying his second Masa Critica. I even saw a fixie!

In true Argentine fashion, we started tardy. But before we began, there was a moment where we gathered to hold our bikes up in the air and chant “Masa Critica”.  I loved it, because it made me feel bonded to these fellow misfits in our love of the bike.

We hit the streets, cruising down Avenida de Julio.  The cars were pissed and just got more pissed as we took over the roads. Along the route, there was the sound of horns as loud as thunder, yells as forceful as a slap and raw anger that we were in the way. I never really felt scared because I knew that the masa would protect the masa.

We continued, weaving through the barrios of the city, getting more comments than a teenage girl in a short skirt. “Que raro” or “How strange” was a common one I heard murmured among the crowds who were walking down the sleepy Sunday streets.

Raro. Hmm… To me, I felt at home, home with the guy that had the bike that towered 10 feet high. At home with the punky girl who had a death to cars sign that hung on the ass end of her bike. No matter where in the world you are, you can find your own masa.


Fx said...

Aguante la Masa Critica! Nice post, Jill!

Unknown said...

It's so cool reading about CM in other cities! How do the cops down there treat cyclists? You ever scared of getting a ticket or arrested during a CM event?

Unknown said...

A ticket? No, I can't imagine the police giving a cyclist a ticket during CM or anything else for that matter. It's kinds dog eat dog around these parts...

Evan Glass said...

I hope you wore a helmet.

Amy said...

ahhh i always wondered what this was...i've seen two of these events in BA now and never knew how/why it was happening! props to all cyclists in this city though, it's a real death-trap out there!