Ok, so it may have been 300 or 400, who really knows. But it's a helluva great way to spend a Friday night. Observe my hasty iPhone action shot:
Last night I went on my very first Friday night "Critical Mass"-type Midnight Ridazz ride. (I'm not entirely sure what qualifies a ride as Critical Mass but I guess the original rides had more shenanigans than the current night-time rides.) I've never been on one before and it was AWESOME. There were so many of us, all with our little lights blinking, and we basically took over a mile-long swath of road wherever we went. Some motorists were unhappy - especially when we did the unprecedented "double u-turn" in the span of one block - but for the most part, people were amused. The LAPD was awesome too; they didn't bother us at all and one officer even high-fived us as we went by! Lots of people took pictures and some residents came out on their balconies to watch us pass. Which, let me be clear, took a very long time. It was like watching a marathon; the leaders would go by, but then you had to be patient, because we just kept coming for the next 10 minutes or so. It was amazing.
And everyone in the group was cool too. Which was great since I didn't know anyone! (Seriously. I did meet a few nice people though.) We tended to run red lights a lot but frankly if each sub-group stopped at red lights then we would have blocked traffic even more, so there was always someone in the group to block the cars and make sure we passed safely. We also rode at a very-reasonable 10 mph average pace, and everyone was constantly calling out "rough road!" or "left turn!" There were guys with sound systems on their bikes, there were people on BMXs, people on beach cruisers, and people on road, hybrid, mountain and fixed-gear bikes as well. And then there was my favorite, the tall bikes:
This picture is obviously not from our ride, it's just an example, but every time one of the guys on the tall bikes went cruising past me on the road I started giggling uncontrollably. I don't know why I found it so funny, I guess it was just indicative of my joy in the event.
All in all, we rode almost 17 miles around Downtown LA and by USC and Exposition Park. Literally I cannot think of a better way to spend a Friday night, than cruising around with hundreds of other bikers, snarling a bit of traffic, listening to music, waving to pedestrians, and just enjoying the ride. I highly recommend it! :o)