On Saturday 8th June, hundreds of naked cyclists took to the streets of London wearing little more than a smile and a pair of sunglasses.
Taking off (pardon the pun) from five stations (Marble Arch, Regent’s Park, King’s Cross, Clapham Junction and West Norwood), the cyclists of the annual World Naked Bike Ride literally put themselves out there, protesting against car culture and oil dependency, before converging at Hyde Park Corner. Having caught up with the WNBR cruising down Haymarket, it became evident that “burning fat, not oil”, was not the only burning that was taking place; bare cheeks on sweaty seats could anticipate a fair bit of bum chaffage, after a few miles, to be sure.
I was more than tempted to do the bike ride this year, however in order to do so, I would have had to get over my fear; not of nakedness but of bicycles, or rather the riding of said bicycle. Having crashed one of those dodgy mopeds in Laos a few years ago, I have since avoided all locomotives apart from my legs as I just can’t be trusted to operate any moving vehicle. However, after seeing two naked pensioners being pulled along in a makeshift chariot, I’m sure there will be other ways to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride next year.
But before that day comes, I have some burning questions. Where does one leave their clothes; are there special naked bike race day lockers put up at various points around the route? I remember finding myself dancing next to a naked man in a club once and thinking the same thing; does he turn up in clothes and check each item in at the cloakroom once he’s unrobed and ready to rock, or does he just queue for the club, naked bar a suspect trench coat, and stash it under one of the tables?
Where does one keep their phones, keys and cash? Without wishing to be vulgar, perhaps it gives an all new meaning to the term, “bum bag”?
What about the actual moment of undress? When you go the doctor and end up having an examination of your bits, they always leave the room, as if undressing in front of them is more intimate than the internal examination; well it is a bit.
And then there’s the end of the race; does everyone just hang around, slapping each other on the back having completed the nine mile ride, in true naked camaraderie? Or is there a dash to the nearest pile of clothes, a flurry of hurried dressing and the potential of ending up in a stranger’s jeans?
I was glad I saw the race in all its naked glory plus all the added extras; bow ties, masks, body paint and their own messages of protest. One such gentlemen (accessorising his nakedness with a hat and pair of walking boots) had “free the naked rambler” attached to his bicycle and had no qualms about getting his point out there, dismounting his bike to ask a passer by to take a photo of him on the West End street. Outside Pizza Express; very political. I also very much enjoyed sharing the pavement with him.
There was plenty to see and learn in order to be fully prepared next year. The most important thing to consider came from seeing the panic stricken face of one cyclist as he raced to catch up with the naked mass. It would seem that the WNBR is like the fire drills you have at school; the key is to never get left behind. Otherwise, a fantastic way to make a statement quickly becomes the equivalent to the walk of shame. There’s enough of that in Piccadilly Circus as it stands, so keep up with the race and leave the shame to the hen parties.
For more information see the official website.