The first public RAT DAY work day was held on Saturday afternoon, August 19, 2000 as part of Chicago Bike Summer 2000. Josh Deth generously donated use of his backyard, tools, welding expertise and garage full of spare parts. Quite a few enthusiastic folks showed up and put together some great bikes. After a long day of grinding and cutting and trampling Josh's flower beds, the sun set on the last desperate attempts to complete the creations to a ridable state. Many small pieces and tools were probably lost in the grass after dark, to be discovered by Josh's lawnmower.

A quick repast at a local taqueria and five choppers set out to storm the neighborhood. For three of them it was their maiden voyage. We rambled aimlessly through Wicker Park, down Milwaukee and up Damen, until coming up with a plan of action. With new-found purpose we headed downtown. Down Milwaukee again to Division, to the jeers of cab-riding frat boys, up over the humpbacked bridges over the river on teetering wheels. Near Halsted a would-be bike bandit ran out into the street, attempting to grab onto the handlebars or force a collision. We rode on. Through Cabrini-Green where we got some great comments. Onward to State & Division, through the heart of yuppie playground on a Saturday night, and a crush of cabs became a challenging chopper obstacle course. Bar-hopping girls waiting for a taxi yelled out "That is so RAD!" Josh corrected them: "No, its RAT!!!" We got a lot of confused and generally lame comments on that stretch. Taking a right on Clark, we ducked into a small tavern for some refreshments to top off the ride. It was a great climax for the first RAT DAY, though we did not get lucky enough to see any rats that night.

Ditching the troubled Bluebird of Happiness chopper at Josh's house, I set off for home on the Neon Lady with the brand new Gimpy Trailer attached. What a difference of appearances! Instead of the respect and awe that riding a chopper elicits, I felt only condescension and pity from passersby. Here I was dragging a hundred pounds of trash and bike frames on an old wheelchair behind me. It must have been quite a sight. I felt solidarity with the lower caste garbage pickers and can scrappers. On the haul up over the Diversey Street bridge a drunk yuppie yelled out derisively "Hey Rickshaw Boy, give me a ride!!"

For more photos of RAT DAY, see the Chicago Critical Mass site.