The prospect of cycling 7 miles around central London completely naked has never exactly been in my “100 things to do before I die” list. Nor, for that matter, has it ever featured in my nightmares. So I went along to this year’s London Naked Bike Ride with a completely open mind and unsure as to how much I would bare.
I arrived at the starting point in Hyde Park and was soon happily down to my boxers. So far, so comfortable, if a little chilly. The people around me were busy body painting each other, listening to music or having their picture taken. There didn’t seem to be any organisation and as more and more body parts were being revealed I was debating what to do about the boxers I was still wearing.
I knew my friend visiting from France would find it very funny if I bear all and I also knew that running a London cycling blog probably means I should go for it. After sending a couple of tweets I dropped my boxers to my ankles, shoved them into my bag and went to join the naked mass that was waiting to depart. I quickly sparked up a conversation with the naked cyclist next to me – which was a strange experience. Soon, I was anxious to get going. Though, as you can imagine, a big mass of cyclists trying to get through a tight road is a slow experience.
The streets to exit Hyde Park were lined with photographers and this was the most daunting part of the ride. Luckily, I spotted my friend from France and flashed her a big smile as she waved and grabbed a picture. If you join the newsletter you can have a copy of the picture. Joke 😉
Her big smile and riding onto the open roads put me more at ease and I was soon enjoying the fun atmosphere. Darth Vader, the gold cyclists and “safer cycling for grannies” painted on someone’s back were amongst the best sights. Of course, the favourite sight being a load of naked cyclists riding past Big Ben. Something that the tourists lining the roads found equally bemusing. Definitely providing a much more interesting holiday snap for many.
The naked ride didn’t have many problems with aggressive drivers and the mass rarely came to a standstill. Throughout the ride a few people removed more clothes, some finished early and some spontaneously joined in. Next time I cycle down Oxford Circus I’ll have a big smile on my face remembering listening to the Simpsons theme tune surrounded by naked cyclists.
I rejoined my friends and my clothes at London Bridge.
The London Naked Bike Ride gets over a thousand participants each year and it follows a planned route around London. The purpose of the ride, if you have to have a reason to get naked, is against car dependency and to promote cycling. There are also similar rides in other cities of the world. You are free to get as naked as you feel comfortable doing and you can just turn up whenever you want. There is no pre-registration for the ride and details can be found on the website.