As the light leaks out of the sky over downtown last Friday, mechanical gears squeak in the distance. Slowly, small groups begin to gather at Government Center. Before long, the groups swell into a crowd, then a swarm.
By 7:15 p.m., 4,000 people line NW First Street as if it's Tahrir Square. There are hipsters in tight jeans and tattoo sleeves, curvy Colombian women packed into spandex like sausages, and marching bands of Cubans in matching T-shirts. But instead of political placards, they've all brought bicycles. Instead of slogans, they offer sweat. Critical Mass is once again taking Miami's streets by storm.
Not everyone is happy about it, however. Motorists stranded in the sea of bicycles angrily blast their horns. Some try to push their way through the peloton. Meanwhile, half a dozen City of Miami cops lounge on their motorcycles at a gas station on the corner, not lifting a finger to rein in the riotous traffic.