As always, it's impossible to get a convincing head count. But organiser Gábor Kürti told the kerékagy blog that if the spring 2008 record had been 80,000, the turnout Saturday was surely 100,000. He confessed, though, that he didn't witness the closing bike lifts because he'd broken down in tears. Reading that Kuku cried made me cry. What a great story!
My own ride got started about half an hour behind schedule, because our girl, Sequoia decided to go down for her afternoon nap right before the scheduled start at 3:55 p.m. I put on her shoes as she laid there snoozing, and she was still half dozing as I carried her down to my bike in the courtyard.
|Start of Critical Mass, Kristin, me and Sequoia and Gabor's daughter Anna in background with head framed by bike sign.|
We were still sitting there when my wife, Kristin, joined us after dropping our boy off at a friend's. We couldn't even get down to the quay from the bike path because escorts blocked our way. If they'd let people cut in, the procession would never have moved. I guess it was past 5 when the whole procession had advanced far enough, and we were able to join it on the tail end. We hooked up with friend Steve Graning and his two girls, Sara and Melina (the latter on a scooter cause her bike had been polished up for resale).
We were at the very end of a kilometres-long line and being shepherded by green-shirted escorts on bikes, an ambulance (sweeping up the hundreds of dead and injured -- just kidding!!) and some crabby cops in a squad car. The cops yelled at us to move it along, apparently anxious to reopen the roads to motor traffic as quickly as possible.
We ran into a friend Péter Dalos, who was on a two-wheeled cargo bike with two children, a huge bag full of laundry, and the kids' two little bikes. I'd seen him with the same enormous load just three days earlier and I was too embarrassed to ask him if he'd been evicted from his home. I'm sure there's another explanation -- the whole family seemed very enthused and were wearing clean clothes.
|Sequoia needed a pancake break on the final stretch down Andrássy út.|
By the time we got across the Chain Bridge, the weather was turning and it looked like the predicted rains would soak us afterall. But the blackening skies and gusts of wind were all bark and no bite. I felt a couple drops of rain, or imagined I did, but it turned out to be one of those classic Earth Day Critical Masses whose huge turnouts had the blessing of Mother Nature.
|It was pretty loud at the closing bike lift.|
|These guys used a bus stop as a band shell and gave us a serenade as we were leaving City Park following the bike lift.|
|After the event, scrambling for the exits.|