Daniel Patrick Johnson (teknotus) wrote,
Daniel Patrick Johnson

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WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) Portland report

I told a lot of you already that I went on the WNBR Saturday June 10th, well really it started at midnight so it was the 11th. Streaking naked through the streets of Portland with a few hundred of my new best friends was a LOT of fun. Up there with the most fun things I have ever done. Everywhere we went people were smiling, cheering, giving high fives, and taking pictures with their camera phones. I saw several people strip naked, and join us even. There were a few guys who I heard yell out to girls who weren't completely naked that they were "cheating". Clearly they didn't understand that the rule was "as bare as you dare", and saying such things was only going to discourage those girls from stripping down any further. Other than that the reaction was almost completely positive. There were shouts like "I love Portland" as we rode by. Sailors on shore leave seemed more surprised than the rest of the crowds. And there were crowds. In many places the sidewalks were 5, or more people deep with people trying to get a good look. One person counted 320 people crossing the Morrison bridge, but apparently that was one of the many times in the ride when people got separated, so there are estimates of over 500 people participating. It is also hard to get a accurate number because of people both joining, and leaving the ride in the middle.

I made a post in damnportlanders the night before the ride in case that might draw a few more people, and I know at least one person came because of it from this post. He was also inspired to ask questions in two communities about it damnportlanders (how I found his post about it), and portlanders.

I was scared, but I try not to let my fears rule my life. I've already been to the clothing optional beach a bunch of times so I was already past being scared of being seen naked something that definitely wasn't true when I first heard about WNBR around a year ago. This was different though. Instead of being naked where it was accepted I was doing it where it was far from the norm.

At first I thought the thing may have been canceled because I got near the location, and I wasn't seeing many people, but I soon found a sign that said the entrance was on the Burnside bridge not at ground level. When I got inside there were a lot of bikes on bike racks. Almost everyone was fully clothed. The most half naked bodies were in the body painting area. I met a few people I knew a little bit from Free Geek, but no one I would have called a good buddy. Hardly anyone was dancing yet. I decided to fill the time by getting body painted. I got in line, and it took a long time. Then the girl who asked me if I wanted to get painted said that she wasn't an artist like the other people. I decided that wasn't a problem. She gave me raccoon eyes, and then painted black, and white stripes on my chest, and back. I was next to girls getting their breasts painted, and guys getting political messages on their backs. By no means a normal situation for me, but it all seemed rather mundane like getting a hair cut in a barber shop. A few guessed at what I was, but really I wasn't anything. One person a the Disjecta dance party guessed I was a zebra. I heard yelled out along the ride both "I like your body paint", and "FURRY!". Bicycles are all potential road kill for cars, so I guess it was fitting that people thought I was an animal.

My friend's showed up pretty late. They locked up their bikes outside which turned out to be a problem later as we had to split up to each get our bikes. We danced a little, and now there were quite a few people dancing. There were a bunch of DJ's, and a bicycle slide show. About 20 to midnight they started announcing the time line, and what was expected of us. About 5 minutes later things had been explained, and people started moving. It took about 15 minutes for everyone to strip as far as they were going to, and get out the door. I had to separate from my friends during this time because we had parked different places, and this turned into a big problem because by the time I got out the door they were gone, and police where parked in front of the building. I zipped back inside, and put my underwear back on then came back outside, and looked around for my friends. The first wave made a loop in downtown Portland, and came back. I found two of my friends, but the other didn't show up, and we decided we needed to leave, or we would lose the rest of the group so we took off together. We didn't find out till the end of the ride that he had a flat, put on his clothes, and carried his bike back to Disjecta. This was a pretty big problem for me as he had brought an extra bike rack bag for me to put my own clothes in, and the backpack I brought with me decided to have the zipper break. I rode with the bag open, and I was in constant fear that I would lose my clothes randomly somewhere in Portland. I guess about three miles into the ride my shoelaces got caught in the gears, and I had to stop to fix it. My friends didn't stop. I lost them for quite a while. Some naked girl stopped to help me if I was having bike problems. I told her it was just a caught shoelace, and she took off. I fixed my shoes, and decided I might as well take off my underwear now since the police hadn't done anything, and I was feeling a lot braver. I rode as fast as I could, but didn't catch up to my friends until there was a brief stop at Disjecta. Some people left at that point either because they were cold, or because they were tired. I suppose some people also joined then as well.

There really isn't anything I can compare to the experience of having thousands of people cheer for me as I rode by. It does a lot to improve the mood. We hit most of the nightlife parts of town. I was surprised that the upper class parts seemed to be the most supportive. I don't think I even heard any guys yelling out "nice breasts" in that part of town (nw 21st, 23rd). I found that staring wasn't an issue at all as surely before anyone would accuse anyone of staring they got distracted by some other naked body. It was such visual noise. It was lucky that it was a full moon so people could see well even without lights.

I was disappointed at how many people got dressed right away when the ride was over. I'm sure most of that was just because people were cold though, and without a constant workout keeping warm is problematic. I was more disappointed at how many people just went home. I think around 80 people stayed though so it was a good party, but I was tired, and didn't have any beer money so I only stayed for about an hour. Some girl stopped me half a block away, and asked if she could have my wristband so she could get in. I didn't even consider that she might have been under 21, and wanting it so she could drink. They said that no one without an arm band would be let in after the ride, and I figured that was just because they didn't want people coming in just to gawk. My friend said I should have made her flash me to get the wristband. Since I gave that up I have no mementos of the occasion. Oh well. What is in my head should be enough.

I got one of the girls who left at the same time we did to dance. A week earlier at the starlight parade I managed to attract the undivided attention of a few of the princesses. About a week ago I noticed when I was getting exercise in the park that girls were smiling at me. I wonder what has changed about me that makes girls look at me different.

I checked out the mailing lists for local nudists, and found them practically dead on the subject of the naked bike ride, and I conclude from that that this ride was primarily an event of the Portland bike culture, and that young Portlanders in general are pretty comfortable with nudity. Overall I knew by name 8 people besides me on the ride. Some people I have told about the ride want to go next year.

Oh, and some links about the ride including a video that I am in. It was before I took off my undies though, so no naked me on the internet. (I'm between 20-25 seconds into the video)

Night ride, and dance party

Daytime ride that I didn't go on


I think this may have been the most fun thing I have ever done.
Tags: bike, bodypaint, critical mass, dance, naked, portland, wnbr
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