LONDON NAKED BIKE RIDE
On June the 9th as the Red Arrows passed overhead on route to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queens birthday, across London I along with many others off all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities where stripping off as we prepared for the London leg of the WNBR.
Initially the message of the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) was a protest against a growing oil dependency while celebrating the power and individuality of the human body. In 2006, there was a shift towards simplifying the message and focusing on cycling advocacy. While the ride does include and appeal to participants from social nudity circles, the ride is not focused on promoting social nudity directly as much as cycling. Google WNBR for more details.
Prepared with the hire bikes we gathered in a beautiful park overlooking Tower Bridge, although we were large in numbers there were many more on-lookers and tourists all clicking their cameras, enjoying the view and excited as they learned why the event takes place. With fabulous weather the merry band of naked cyclists hit the road to cheers and applause. Our route crossed several bridges with traffic coming to a standstill as we passed. There are many possible reactions with some people covering their eyes, others cheering and the odd textile cyclist stripping off and joining in, however overall it was all very positive and encouraging. We passed many of the famous landmarks, enjoying conversation and laughter with whoever was cycling or roller-skating beside you. There was even a number of folks running naked.
Having stopped at County Hall (beside the London eye) for a photo opportunity, the coordination team behind the event need to be congratulated as the scale of the event was about to unfold. Our group slowly made its way to a square north of Oxford Street and it was was very impressive as other groups arrived and the numbers grew to an estimated three and a half to four thousand naked participants! With music bouncing out of many a cyclists carry bag the final leg of the trip brought is through Covent Garden, around Piccadilly Circus and towards Buckingham Palace as we ended our 3 hour London cycle full of natural positive energy and having made many new friends.
On Sunday morning I along with many others from the previous day took a train to Brighton to participate in what has become known as London “phase 2” the Brighton WNBR, however for me the Brighton event puts London in the back seat.
Arriving to the start location we were welcomed with a live band and parents and children dancing naked enjoying the great weather. There were ice cream wagons, family picnics, dogs running about and a lovely positive atmosphere. Local volunteers introduced themselves and enquired where I had travelled from and confirmed it was OK to take pictures etc. As the departure time approached I noticed several police arrive on bicycles positioning themselves to escort the group and with a burst of loud applause bikes were mounted and our group of three thousand colorful naked and body painted people hit the road. Several participants were pushing or pulling children in side cars, friends and family members were supporting those in wheelchairs or blind and the city of Brighton was out to welcome one and all. Traffic stopped as route brought us through the many historical parts, along the sea front and passed many restaurants and coffee shops all offering support and encouragement. There was two official stops on route all prepared with live music, refreshments and photo opportunities and then maybe two hours later the group finally made its way to a beach location for a mighty bbq and party.
A week later the WNBR took to the roads of Cork, unfortunately I could not attend. However, I returned from the UK on a natural high, full of positive energy, confidence knowing I will return next year – join me?