Guest blog: London naked bike ride

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

As this blog goes live, I’ll be on my bike. Sadly not naked, but definitely enjoying the wind in my hair and feeling like I’m flying through my holiday. I love cycling, and as a result I’ve always been fascinated – and tempted – by the London Naked Bike Ride. I’ve watched it a few times before, envious of the brilliant people who are comfortable getting their kit off and riding through the busy streets of central London. As yet I’ve never done it, though perhaps this year’s ride – on 8th June – might tempt me out of the shadows. In the meantime, though, I’m welcoming @pervy_thoughts (you can find his blog at the excellently-titled Pervy.Fun) – a regular guest blogger and nudist who is here to extol the joys of naked cycling!

Naked bike rides

Back in the 1980s when I first got interested in nudism, the streaking phenomena had just started. It carried on for a few years with naked pitch invasions at sporting events. The most infamous one with Erica Roe at Twickenham is the benchmark for getting your tits out in public.

As much as I liked the idea of getting naked in public, I did not want any publicity; I did not want to upset anyone. So I forgot about getting naked in public and got involved in more mainstream nudism.

Jump forward twenty five years…

“Fancy a bike ride around London on Saturday?” From the smirks on my friends’ faces there was more to this than a simple bike ride around London…

World Naked Bike Ride is a protest movement against the dependency on oil, traffic in our cities and the vulnerability of cyclists. It’s also a chance to get naked and ride around in public.

This was 2005, and I have taken part in a naked bike ride in various UK cities every year since. It’s great fun. I do think the original purpose, PROTESTING, has got a bit lost, and some rides – London especially – are overcrowded. Lots of unskilled riders on bikes makes the ride dangerous. I have seen riders taken down, some badly injured in the fall. This is what we are protesting about; we should be the solution, not the problem.

What’s the London Naked Bike Ride like?

That first year I made the mistake of taking my regular commuting bike on the ride. Razor saddle, clipped in pedals, drop handlebars. The saddle was designed to be used with padded shorts, not a naked bottom. The pedals were a nightmare as we kept stopping and I had to unclip and drop handlebars were too low. Plus, at the end of the ride I really did not want to chain a £1000 bike to some railings to go into the pub.

Despite all the problems, riding naked past The Houses of Parliament was a blast, and I loved every minute. My sore bum recovered after a few days of treatment with Savlon.

The following year I was much more organised. I acquired a bike specifically for Naked Bike Riding. A sit up and beg riding position, flat handlebars, pedals you can use in trainers, a big comfy saddle and panniers for my clothes. Second hand and under £100. Perfect! (It was nicked from outside a pub a couple of years ago, so I am on Naked Bike Mk2.)

Even if you don’t want to participate, Naked Bike Riding is quite a spectacle, hundreds, maybe thousands, of naked people out on the streets. In London you can watch from Waterloo Bridge, then walk up to Southampton Row and watch the ride come past again. Covent Garden with its pubs is not far away.

To get a feel for what the London Naked Bike Ride is like, check out this gallery on Vimeo. And if you’re interested in similar activities, remember you don’t just have to get naked on bikes! I have streaked around Regent Park Zoo in aid of tigers (followed by a film crew!), and Yorkshire Wildlife Park for polar bears. (Bare for bears!)

From a vague I idea I would like to streak in 1980, I have fulfilled the dream in spades. Young me would never have imagined I would be naked in central London.

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