Friday night was the third Critical Mass ride here in the City of Angels. After two days of stormy weather, the rain had cleared mid-afternoon, the streets had dried, the weather was still a little cool and breezy and it was looking like the stage was set for a pleasant ride.
By the time I reached the TOT (Telephone of Thailand) building on Phloenchit Road, the clouds were forming in the early evening sky and it smelled of rain. About thirty riders gathered, all Thais except for one other farang, down significantly from the two hundred-plus riders at the first Critical Mass ride in February. Barely a mass, much less critical, in my opinion.
We set off just after seven o’clock and within five minutes were riding on wet pavement. Chasing the storm, we rode onto increasingly wet pavement until catching up to the raindrops. From mist to droplets to a full downpour, the group continued to ride, LED head and tail lights reflecting in the puddles.
There was a certain romance to it. It was warm and tropical and everyone was entirely soaked through and we kept riding, weaving through the stuck traffic, ringing our bells and bringing some visibility to the rights of cyclists.
After about forty minutes we arrived at the Taksin Bridge pier, where tourists catch the river taxis. There, under the concrete canopy of the bridge, the group stopped for a break. I visited with fellow riders, several of whom are instructors at one of the arts colleges. It was nice to be able to communicate well enough to carry on conversations and to make, and understand, jokes. Thank goodness for people who are willing to speak clearly, speak slowly, and rephrase their words when I don’t understand. And who avoid idioms.