World Naked Bike Ride
You know the story of the Emperor's New Clothes? Well, the World Naked Bike Ride is a bit like that, but without the deception. It offers a completely unique, unconstrained and novel way to get fit.
Why get togged up in Lycra and expensive cycling clothes just to follow mountain bike trails through woodland, or pursue cycle paths around the countryside? Instead, you can exhibit your crown jewels to enthusiastic onlookers in some of our major towns and cities! Whatever could be more appealing?
It's nerve-wracking, and highly controversial. Some people disapprove. "Really? Surely not!" I hear you say. But despite its opponents, The World Naked Bike Ride is seeing explosive growth around the globe.
The world record for attendance was broken last year, when over 8000 people joined the Portland Naked Bike Ride in the USA. What a lot of sweaty flesh!
It's not just an excuse for some quirky social time and a bit of exercise. It's an organised protest and a forum for people to speak out over issues of concern. Environmental issues take front of stage with 'indecent exposure to vehicle emissions', oil dependency, and the vulnerability of cyclists on the roads all flagged as key themes.
It's also a promotion of cycling as a sustainable mode of transport. The World Naked Bike Ride is intended to be a celebration of cycling and the human body. People are encouraged to go along and take part, "as bare as you dare!" - you don't have to be naked to participate.
A Growing Movement
Rides take place in towns and cities all around the UK, from Brighton in the south to Edinburgh in the north, and many places in between. Edinburgh was one of the first to take part when the event began in 2004, but the city's recent involvement has been intermittent.
This year, there are 11 Naked Bike Rides planned in locations across the UK. Suffice to say my home town of Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire isn't one of them. I imagine the locals might die of shock if we started something so outrageous here!
Fortunately no-one noticed me getting into the spirit last summer while writing a short piece on the Naked Bike Ride for our Try Something New supplement!
The World Naked Bike Ride began in 2004 when groups of activists from around the world came together to protest against oil dependency. After doing similar events independently in their own countries, apparently unaware of each other's existence, the penny dropped, and they came together under the banner of The World Naked Bike Ride.
Over the years, the message has become more mixed with many people using it as a platform to promote cycling as a green and healthy form of transport, and to celebrate the individuality of the human body.
The ride promotes cycling more than nudity, an optional extra. Some people attend the rides wearing shorts or bikinis, while others bare all. Many go with their bodies painted, or in skimpy fancy-dress.
The Brighton Naked Bike Ride began in 2006 and the numbers have grown yearly with over 600 people joining the ride in 2013. It's a nine-mile cycle ride around Brighton and Hove, passing the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Pier, and other attractions in the city, before ending the ride at Brighton's naturist beach.
Participants set off from a local park, complete with placards and body paint. An eye-boggling spectacle of pink flesh cycles around the city, declaring Eco-messages that include, 'clean and green', 'cheap and cheerful', and 'burn fat not oil!'
Last year, as cyclists pedalled along the route, music accompanied the ride, with songs like 'Shaking That Ass' filling the air.
Where to stay in Brighton
Sheepcote Valley Caravan Club Site
East Brighton Park
Open to non-members. Good facilities. Wi-Fi is intermittent. Within five miles of a national cycle network.
London is one of the biggest Naked Bike Rides in the UK, having grown steadily since the inception of the Naked Bike Ride in 2004 when 58 people rode through the streets of the capital, protesting against fuel emissions and oil dependency.
Nowadays it has five different start locations and last year, groups of cyclists departed from the Marble Arch, Regent's Park, King's Cross, Clapham Junction and West Norwood before converging at Hyde Park Corner.
One accidental spectator, Matthew Galvin, spotted the cyclists on their journey through London and tweeted: "A cavalcade of naked cyclists have just ridden past my house. It wasn't a pretty sight."
Where to stay in London
Crystal Palace Caravan Club Site
Crystal Palace Parade
020 8778 7155
Open to non-members. Good facilities. Within five miles of a national cycle network.
If you decide to take part in a Naked Bike Ride, you don't need to register in advance. Just turn up at the convergence centre for the event before it begins. Don't be late or you might be naked on your own! You don't have to decide what to wear, or not wear, until the last minute. You can ride fully clothed if you're more comfortable that way. Some naked or semi-naked riders take something quick to throw on when they have to stop at traffic lights.
Be warned, these events do attract many photographers, both amateur and professional, so if you're worried about ending up in the Daily Mail, perhaps you should cover up! There are guidelines on the World Naked Bike Ride website for dealing with unwanted photographers. Check out the policy for the ride location where you intend to take part.
Naked Bike rides in 2018
These are the locations for Naked Bike Rides in the UK in 2018. Double check the dates and times on the website before you leave, as these events do get sometimes cancelled due to adverse weather or other complications.
Rides confirmed for 2018:
- Brighton and Hove - June 2018
- Cambridge - June 2018
- Canterbury - June 2018
- Chelmsford - June 2018
- Folkestone - June 2018
- Portsmouth - June 2018
- Southampton - June 2018
Visit www.wiki.worldnakedbikeride.org for more information.