Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Masses- Kidical and Critical.......part 1

Kidical Mass meets one, two, or three times a month in various parts of the city, depending on the month and how everyone that organizes each separate ride plans the month. The second Saturday each month there's always a ride in Palmer Square (near Logan Square). Meet at Palmer Square (3100 W. Palmer) at 10:30. Ride starts at 11.

Here are some quick thoughts on the kidical mass! 

It's very fun. If you are a family that has not spent much time in the actual road this is a good chance to give it a try. Finding a comfort level with being in the road can be easier with a nice group of people, with your kids on decorated bikes, with music, and with plenty of other grown-ups around. There are plenty of cycling families that show up that ride in their everyday lives to ask questions of and just feel less weird with. There is a nice playground in the center of Palmer Square, too, so you don't have to feel bad talking away with other parents and riders while your kids whine about needing to leave. Bathrooms are tricky at the start point so Go At Home. Snacks are good to bring.

If the group is small and you don't put your kids in the road much, it can be a new experience to feel the cars going by while you are riding with your family. Hang in there... the rides are usually just long enough to let you feel like you are actually getting somewhere. Routes are usually a mix of quiet and less quiet roads that the organizers ride during the week or so before, to gauge the safety of the traffic and the quality of the road specifically for each ride.

On big and small riders...
Everyone is welcome on Kidical Mass. The rides, though, are geared for kids who can ride. Smaller toddlers and like-a-bike sized kids should be on a bike with their parents. Kids that can roll along on their own bikes are encouraged to take their own vehicles. Perfect for my six year old but tricky with my nine year old, as he is used to moving places under his own power. He needs a little encouragement to keep the speed down and enjoy the ride, welcoming the smaller guys along. I think it's great for a kid of any age to give it a go. 

Which brings me to my favorite topic... taking the bike to the Kidmass itself!
Some kids have the chops to ride to the ride, others need a lift but then will be able to get on their bikes to ride themselves. How do you get your soon-to-be-riders and yourself to the ride, on your bike, with their bikes?  And more importantly, how do you all get home? 

Some mixes that could work:  Kid on a seat if they still fit, and bike in or on a trailer or well strapped to a ride along. Kids in trailer and bikes strapped on. Kids on their own bikes. Go there the day before and lock your bikes up, then take the bus to the ride.

We ride with kids in the box bike or on the tandem and use a wacky bike trailer D. rigged out of parts of an old kid trailer, with car roof bike carrier racks bolted onto the frame, that holds two kid bikes. Any other ideas out there?

Another option is to take public transportation. Palmer Square is a short short ride from the Logan Square Blue Line Station and Kidical Mass is on Saturday morning, so you can take all your bikes on the train (or bus) and get off there, then back on bikes down Kedzie or one of the very nice little side streets south to Palmer. Tricky on the steps but possible. Buses only hold two bikes each.

Routes to ride from other parts of town, anyone?  We would go Morgan north to Lake westbound -- look out for road work at the intersections -- to Wood, north to Armitage west, then north on small streets parallel to Kedzie to Palmer Square. We usually find the small streets and little side boulevards in Logan Square to be really nice riding. Coming from the North the intersections in the area of Elston and Western are not pleasant- it's a sidewalk ride for me with the kids.

Remember that Palmer Square is only one of several places that will host Kidical Mass each month. There's often one in Pilsen, Rogers Park, and other places. Look at the Kidical Mass group on the Chainlink for info. 

Part two later!

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