It was my second naked ride- the last was about six or seven years ago when I'd last lived in Portland. It was a meager four hundred or so of us who quietly rolled the streets after shedding our layers near the corner of Burnside and Grand. That time, the only spectators were the people who poked their heads out of the bars downtown after seeing the peach flash cruise by. It was sweet and small and quiet as we rolled through dark neighborhoods, silently protesting oil and body shame, or just experiencing the jubilation of shared nakedness and the greatness of bicycles.
This year was a totally different experience. The multitude of nudist cyclists populating the park blocks was a party of all sorts. I suspect there were more people there for the nakedness of the event than for the protest of oil. But I still believe that everyone should do this ride. For the sake of body acceptance and plain fun.
We rode downtown from northeast Portland, my North Carolina boyfriend in a tutu (it was his first ride). Since North Carolina has in the last year made it a felony for women to show their areolae (up to 10 years in jail), we were thankful for the freedom to take part in this ride and thankful to be back out west.
We unloaded our bikes at Southpark (a fancy restaurant downtown) and strolled up to the Art Museum, and were promptly enveloped by a cloud of flesh. At first in a crowd of so many naked people, there's the feeling of overwhelming stimulation. You're seeing too much, all the time! After a while, you notice nothing much and everyone is a canvas of the same color. Without clothes we are all much more alike. In joining with our fellow cyclists, we felt the community of hope- for a better world with less oil dependence, for more bicycles, for safe riding, and for loving our bodies. It is an event everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Safety first in my pink-covered helmet and Holy Bike Lights!