Friday night as I was biking home I ran right into Critical Mass. They were turning north on Dexter as I was stopped at a traffic light, so I was able to jump right into the group. Despite several years of bike commuting, I've never taken part in this before as it mostly takes place downtown and I've never gone out of my way to take part.
It was amazing. Only a block or so after I joined, the group headed onto Highway 99. For those not familiar with Seattle, this is a pretty major road. It's a primary alternative to I-5 and the average speed is usually ~ 50 mph at this point. We had probably several hundred riders and were able to take over the entire 3 lane road going north. It was amazing to see cars surrounded and then overtaken by the swarms of cyclists. Car drivers coming the opposite direction were waving and honking their support. "Ride the Duck" amphibs full of tourists cheered and waved as their drivers explained what we were doing. There were cyclists of all kinds: people dressed up in odd outfits, people in commuting gear, those in road cycling garb, bike messengers, decorated bikes, some with sidecars or radios, young, old, crunchy, conservative, and lots of tattoos and piercings. We slowly biked a few miles this way and I passed my exit to the house (the easiest commute ever) in order to have the chance to cross the Auroura Bridge in the middle of the road by bike, watching the sites. We exited after crossing the bridge and turned into Fremont. I looped around with the group and then headed home as we passed the Fremont Bridge.
I can't remember the last time I had so much fun on a bike. It reminded me of all of the reasons I ride; worth every dark and rainy winter ride.