I just got back from an experience like I’ve never had before: the 2018 edition of the World Naked Bike Ride.
Portland is about a 7 hour drive from Boise. A couple friends and I jumped in the car and made the drive and it was absolutely worth the time invested.
It turns out that of all of the WNBR events worldwide, Portland has the largest one! They’ve been holding the ride for more than a decade and this year’s estimate was that over 18,000 people participated.
It’s kind of remarkable if you’ve never been. We biked across the city from our host’s home to the staging area and had about an hour and a half to soak in the evening sun and listen to a great fusion jazz band (High Step Society) before the ride began.
The whole thing is voluntary and run by volunteers: no tickets, no demands, no clothes! AND there were no incidents of violence or sexual assault– just people truly being people.
It was an atmosphere of simple joy — it was quite relaxing — and I couldn’t stop feeling happy being there!
About half an hour before the ride, the crowd was starting to grow and the band was getting their groove on. I don’t it on video, but later the natural amphitheatre filled up with nude dancers having a wonderful time. You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean, but when someone says “naked people dancing,” what do you think of? Maybe a darkly lit nightclub and a pole?
This wasn’t that. This was people having carefree fun in their skin.
I didn’t have my DSLR, but I did capture a few candids of people enjoying the pre-ride festivities, getting body-painted and managed to get just a few during the ride itself. Maybe next year a GoPro will be in order?
As I rode the 6 mile course through Portland’s beautiful neighborhoods and along a bluff overlooking the river, there were two things that really stuck out to me:
- Riding a bicycle naked feels just like riding one with clothes on. Really! No, I didn’t get sore or chafed, but Yes, it was actually less sweaty and cooler because there weren’t any clothes to collect all that body heat.
- Along the whole bike route, parents brought their children outside on their driveways where they cheered us on, waving and ringing bells and welcoming us to their neighborhoods. It was such an emotionally positive experience!
I would definitely do this again and I hope you’ll come with me next year! Here are a few photos: