"They're nude, not lewd—and they just might save the world. Here's some advice for navigating your first clothing-optional cycling event." --Elspeth Huyett
Saving the planet, promoting a healthy body image, being self sufficient—all are worthy goals that many organizations share. Many such groups raise money and host events to spread their message. Some also ride naked.
World Naked Bike Rides take place in 20 countries and 70 cities each year. Groups of as many as 8,000-plus nude or scantily clad cyclists pedal together to promote reduced oil dependency, local action, body confidence, and more. Think of them as racier versions of Critical Mass.
Like any group ride, there's etiquette involved. These seven tips will put you on the path to a successful ride. It could be the most fun you've ever had naked.
Bring Your Body Paint
Body art is encouraged at WNBR. You can make yourself into anything you wish: a tiger, a mermaid or...whatever these guys are supposed to be. Of course, this will increase your chances of Internet, um, glory. If you're worried about ending up on your boss' Facebook feed, WNBR suggests riding in the center of a group and tempering your nudity—riders may wear as much or as little clothing as they like.
Keep It Clean
Sure, riding naked is fun—but is it sanitary? If you're concerned, WNBR suggests you arrive clean and bring something to cover your seat. And please—for the love of all humanity—if you are planning on using a bike-share bike, sanitize the saddle before you return it.
Age Is Just a Number
Think that riding naked is just for the young revolutionaries? Think again! WNBR embraces everyone, regardless of age. So don't be intimidated and feel free to bring your child—or your grandma.
Plan for the After Party
Once you finish standing up for the environment, you're sure going to need a beer. Just be sure you bring socially acceptable clothing for post-ride activities. Nude is cool during the ride, but not always at the bar after.
Be Loud and Proud
Compensate for your lack of clothing with volume. Organizers bring public announcement systems and encourage the group to join in cheers and chants. Don't be shy, just picture everyone else in their underwear... or just look around. Non-creepily, of course.
Ride Your Own Pace
A naked bike ride isn't the place to show off your superior climbing prowess. It's a casual ride about the message, not about the finish. Worried about getting dropped? Don't fear. With hundreds or thousands of participants, someone is most likely riding your pace. Also, most courses are closed to traffic and have a police presence.
Remember Why You're Naked
WNBR's mission, according to Conrad Schmidt, WNBR founder and organizer of WNBR Vancouver, "is one of simplification, human harmony and love. For a future to exist for tomorrow's generations, we have to stop wasting the life blood energy of the Earth, stop fighting and killing in the name of consumerist wealth accumulation and learn to love and respect all life on this planet."
Ready to ride? Search for a cycling event.