I entered this in a writing contest today. The theme was a newspaper account of a small-town event that goes bad; the example being the homecoming parade at the end of 'Animal House'. Feel free to critique, flame, or ignore. Thought it might be worth a chuckle.
Haybale, New Hampshire; October 13, 2004 (AP)-
Yesterday's staging of a bicycling 'Critical Mass' event here in this small New England town went terribly awry.
Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle activist gathering held in major urban centers around the world. It was inspired by the cyclists of China, who must deal with intersections without signal lights by forming a large 'critical mass' of riders which can then safely pass through, stopping motor traffic. The Western Critical Mass rides are staged to raise awareness of bicycling issues; but they often run afoul of the law due to flagrant disobedience of traffic regulations. Large packs of cyclists typically close thoroughfares during their demonstrations. The events have also occasionally been hijacked by political demonstrators, which was seen during the recent Republican National Convention in New York, when a Critical Mass ride turned into a huge anti-Bush demonstration, resulting in mass arrests and the confiscation of dozens of bikes.
Haybale's Critical Mass was organized by Len Butcher and Darryl Linkhorn. As far as this reporter was able to determine, they are the only two bicyclists in town; but they sent an appeal to the university campuses of nearby Boston for enough riders to form a 'mass'. Students on bikes descended on this town in the hundreds.
By all accounts, the ride began peacefully enough. The mass of riders moved up Main Street, closing intersections with its sheer volume. At some point, a motorist stuck at a blocked intersection shouted an expletive at the mass of riders as it went by. A pack of cyclists broke off from the main mass and surrounded the pickup belonging to the man who had shouted. Witnesses report that the truck had a 'Bush/Cheney 2004' sticker affixed to the bumper, which apparently enraged the cyclists. They dismounted, began rocking the truck from side to side until it toppled, pulled the driver from the cab and beat him senseless with their tire pumps, then set fire to the truck. Other cyclists, spurred by this action, began attacking motorists caught in the melee, damaging their vehicles and injuring the drivers.
The single constable of Haybale was quickly overwhelmed by the escalating riot. He barricaded himself in the doughnut shop owned by his wife, and radioed the State Police for help.
Upon the arrival of the New Hampshire Highway Patrol, the town was completely in the hands of the rampaging bicyclists. Several fires were burning, including the school's only bus. Cyclists stood around the burning bus singing 'We Shall Overcome' and shouting "No war for oil!" The local Oldsmobile dealership appeared to be completely destroyed. A call was made to the Governor, and he dispatched the National Guard.
The patrolmen and those few Guardsmen who weren't currently stationed in Iraq formed an anti-riot line and began pushing the cyclists back. Riders clad in tight-fitting dayglo Lycra were forced to give ground, all the while shouting "Nazis!" and "Remember Kent State!" Empty Sobe bottles flew through the air toward the authorities.
Eventually, the Guard and police donned gas masks and fired tear gas canisters into the mass of cyclists. That proved to be more than the self-proclaimed "Schwinn Warriors" could withstand. The crowd broke; sniffling, crying southbound cyclists were seen strung out along the route from Haybale to Boston for the next several hours.
Butcher and Linkhorn were unavailable for comment as to whether there would be another Critical Mass ride in Haybale next month.