Friday’s Courteous Mass Group Bike Ride (5/7/11)
75 cyclists sharing the road with the massive trucks of Texas cowboy country: it must be Courteous Mass.
This group cycling event was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We gathered behind the bars at Northgate, where I took photos of the bikes and sexy legs, and from Northgate, we rode off into Texas A & M’s campus. We wound our way around College Station for a while, carefully staying in our traffic lane, and eventually headed north into downtown Bryan for the First Friday festivities.
It was my first Courteous Mass, and I had a blast. I spend so much time on my bike riding by myself that it was weird and fun to ride with a group. I had to pay very careful attention to the ride to make sure I didn’t crash into anyone, and we rode much slower than I do on my own. Still, the fun of being able to ride in the street down George Bush Drive and the pleasure of biking from College Station to Bryan more than made up for the lack of speed.
I’d never ridden my bike to Bryan because I was convinced that there wasn’t a good bike path to connect the two cities. Our route was circuitous, so I’m not sure I could recreate it easily on my own. It also involved riding on some roads that might feel less safe to me if I were by myself—safety in numbers, you know—but now I feel like I want to try it. I like downtown Bryan a lot and would like to visit it more often, but not having a car here makes that trip more challenging.
Courteous Mass was amazing for more personal reasons too. It was more than just a bike ride. In the last few months, my world feels like it’s been shrinking. When I lived in Chicago, I always felt like my world was enormous. That city offered a dazzling array of opportunities just a train ride away from my home. And when I needed to escape the urban life, vacation was just a plane ride away. And that plane ride? Also just a train ride away. In certain ways, life in Chicago was easier, bigger, and more exciting than life in College Station, Texas. It was also more overwhelming, and I spent plenty of time burrowing into my kitchen for comfort.
My life in Texas is different. In the almost two years since I moved here, I have been growing and changing. In some ways, life is better. I feel more calm and centered about my relationship with Matt. I’m becoming a more independent scientist (but still keeping my fingers crossed about that). I have a little more money to spend, and I’m thinking about buying my first home(!). I have a dishwasher and a bike and a digital camera and two blogs. I have friends. I am happy here.
But I miss the city, and I think the thing I miss most of all is that sense of expansiveness. Chicago has an energy that I just love—it’s a dynamic city, a fun city, a city that was perfect for twenty-something, graduate student me. Texas can feel a little stagnant with its masses of confused undergraduates and old white men. I’m not sure yet where I fit in here. Nor do I know how long I’ll stay in this town or whether I’ll stay in Texas. But for an evening, I felt surrounded by kindred spirits during Courteous Mass. I felt my world opening up, spatially and socially. I met some cool people who were about my age and who were kind enough to let me tag along with them for part of the evening.
I think your world is as big as you imagine it to be. Courteous Mass tugged at my imagination. It gave me a peak at a larger world right here, in my own town. I can’t wait for our next ride. My bike and I are ready to have some more fun.