U bikers ride to Midnight Mass

By Isabella Bravo, Staff Writer

Running red lights, freak bikes and hooliganism mark Salt Lake City’s late-night bike romp known as Midnight Mass.

Students and other city residents gather together on the first Friday of every month at Gallivan Plaza for a midnight ride through the city. Anyone with an alternative set of wheels can join in, if they don’t mind being without destination, route and leadership, said Davey Davis, a senior in art history who has ridden in the mass for about one year.

Al Johnstone, a senior in film studies, started riding in Midnight and Critical Masses about six months ago. The unique energy and the socializing component keep him coming back.

“Midnight Mass is a gathering of people who love bicycles,” Johnstone said. “There’s no point. Going fast late at night and seeing what happens and exploring the city from a bicycle’s point of view.”

Midnight Mass is a spin off of Critical Mass, which is a monthly ride with meeting places worldwide. In cities such as Los Angeles, New York and even Provo, Critical Masses can attract hundreds and even thousands of bicyclists for special events. Critical Mass has the same lack of leadership, destination and set pace as Midnight Mass, but with more bicyclists in the mass. Critical Mass is more of a parade than its midnight version.

“Midnight Mass tends to be smaller and faster with less people,” Davis said. “It’s also more hooligan.”

Hooliganism attracts more than just bicyclists to the ride, Johnstone said.

“Getting reactions from people, seeing the confused looks on people’s faces when they see 30 bikers go by with flashing lights and music8212;that’s pretty satisfying,” he said. “It’s not about obeying the traffic law or the common courtesy of traffic. It’s a primal desire to run around and be hooligans, and you don’t get that chance much in modern life.”

Davis sees a bigger problem than running red lights and disregarding other traffic laws.

“(Midnight Mass) always degenerates into a big rambling mob,” he said. “The frustrations that get vented there on cars is not the kind of riding I’m into. The cyclists as a whole don’t feel very empowered. We get honked at, yelled at and annoyed by cars.”

Davis said when he gets in a group of 30 or 40 bikers, it becomes a power play.

For many bicyclists, there is no other place to be on Friday nights because Critical Mass and Midnight Mass create a space to be around other bike nerds. Tom Fleming, a senior in classics, debuted his new bike at the last mass.

“It’s a guarantee that this is going to be the only option for me on Fridays,” he said. “That’s not to say that I wouldn’t ditch anything that might inexplicably come up for (Midnight Mass).”

The mass attracts a cult following on a regular basis, but its regularity provides an opportunity to build a community.

“It’s something that every biker knows about, a great experience that pervades the whole (bike) culture,” Davis said. “It’s great to have a monthly event to introduce new bikers to the bike community.”

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Alyssa Bailey

Bike lovers from across the city gather together for a late-night ride known as Midnight Mass. The group, which consists of community members and U students, meets on the first Friday of each month.