So, I think the permit actually made things better because all the cops were on the "official route" at first. They split off a smaller group of people around 6th & Salmon (??) early in the mass, but the larger group of us then rode without any police interference whatsoever for 15-20 minutes probably! Even when we rode down broadway to Pioneer Sqaure, there was a gaggle of cops watching us (and TONS of people... apparently the tree lighting ceremony was tonight), but they were all pioneer square cops completely unequipped to do anything about all of us on bikes.
Then there was the traditional ride up burnside (where we caught up with the rest of the mass that had been split off) to 23rd (yawn) and back ... down to pioneer square! This time there was a lot of bike and motorcycle fuzz. We rode around the square in a circle about twice and then cops blocked up from turning right on sixth to continue the cirle. We went straight (our only choice) to 5th, and then they had 5th blocked, making our only option to go right.
BUT... The street was clearly marked "NO TURNS". So we had no option. At one point a few of us decided to pick up our bikes and walk them straight on the sidewalk. After all, many shoppers were doing the same thing. But when we got to the other side of the sidewalk, the cops confronted us. One individual continued his march forward and got a typical over-the-top Portland Police beating.
After another 5-10 minutes of standstill, trucks of riot cops pulled up and things got really tense. Eventually the mass decided to break the law and go right like the cops wanted us to rather than face the inevitible pepper spray.
They blocked off a route forcing us onto the Hawthorne bridge. They obviously wanted us out of downtown. So the mass surprises them and heads down to the eastbank esplanade. That's where it got confusing. The ramp up to morrison bridge was blocked off. We biked down to the steel bridge and some people went up the ramp to the top and other of us went across the bottom of the bridge.
Those of us that crossed the bottom were a small group unable to decide what to do next and eventually there were more cops and everyone just called it a night.
I'm not sure what the (larger) group of people who went up the ramp did. Hopefully they kept the mass going.
Anyway, what made the mass so fun for me? Well, it was largely just that there seemed to be a much more sympathetic mood from the cars. I got a wave back from probably 75% of the cars I waved to. And the people at the square also seemed to be having a good time. It was partly the lack of police for a significant part of the ride. It was partly the nice weather. And, of course, the police stand-off was fun too (admit it!).
Can we do a Mass during the Starlight Parade? What happens if we try to ride in the parade? That would be fun.