On entering Prague we were joined by someone from the local Critical Mass network, who after a quick rehearsal in how to create a critical mass, decided that the 50 strong cyclists were enough to take on the highway into the capital city of Czech Republic!
This was our first self made Critical Mass so far and for some their first, with 3 people setting the pace at the front … S L OOOOO W L Y!… then 10 blockers who smiled sweetly as they blocked off the side roads to let the mass of cyclists through as though we were one long bus; then of course the tail, who took up the rear and the flew the Ecotopia flag. Others also handed out our flyers to anyone interested, and the mass chanted No Nation slogans and attempted to recreate Rhythms of Resistance tunes from their bicycle bells. It was a noisy, lively success with many smiles and support from pedestrians and some car drivers, as our local host led us through the city to one of the Reclaim the Streets Happenings that were taking place that weekend all over Prague. Today was the opening party in what is usually a parking lot next to the highway, organised in part by another local host from Automat. We didnt stay long as we still had to find our sleeping place and cook, so we headed off again in search of Cibulka squat, recommended to us by many contacts in Prague.
Unfortunately when we arrived there had been a misscommunication amoungst the residents, who had also booked another large group in that weekend. We ended up sleeping the night, slightly restlessly, before leaving early to a central park to make a plan B. Due to the size of the group, and manyleads resulting only in dead ends or only being able to host a maximum of 20 or so (our group now consisting of around 35 people), we ended up settling on a recommended wild camping spot 4km along the river, near to one of the projects we would visit the next day. This uncertainty however, and exhaustion beginning to show in those who had hoped Prague would be a time to relax a bit and stay in the same place for a few nights, led some members of the group to stay in a nearby hostel for a few nights. Others felt solitude and reconcilliation in wild camping again, a bit out of the hectic city, where we could remain more of a community and keep track of each other more easily.
The following day we visited a local bike project, Bajkazyl, right on the river, and held a long circle including how to improve our processes as a group, including scheduling, teams on the rota and a first aid workshop.
It was our first city experience after Berlin… often the most difficult aspects of the Biketour, as you can clearly see the change and dynamics of the group, whose needs seem to suddenly become much further apart. Here was the first lesson in flexibilty, capacity and resilience of large groups.