Last week, Rebel Metropolis took a look at the haters trolling online coverage of Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride. Every year, these self-righteous naysayers infest the interwebs with their condemnation of bikes, nudity, and the people who cherish both. Try as they might, however, this verbally-challenged minority cannot stop thousands of riders from stripping bare and mounting their iron horses for a few hours of nakedly ambitious bike fun.
This year’s WNBR was staged further east than recent years, apparently to mitigate the thousands more people who pack the streets purely as spectators. Personally, I love the spectators, and enjoy exchanging high fives as I pass. Seemingly, almost all onlookers relish this momentary interaction with people riding by, over and over. Many even strip down themselves while cheering us on. Hopefully they’ll join the ride next year.
While I haven’t heard an official head count yet, it felt like 2014’s WNBR was far bigger than before. In prior years, the staging ground where riders met up was a single vacant city block with a second for spill-over that rarely filled up. This year, the staging grounds were two adjoining baseball fields in Normandale park – roughly equivalent to four of Portland’s downtown city blocks – and they were packed!
To be sure, the sea of naked bodies and bikes seemed to stretch to the horizon. At 9pm, the call to ride went out, and the crowd roared. As riders began to head out from the North side of the park, it seemed just getting this many people in the street was going to be more challenging than years past. Literally, it took my group of friends and I over an hour from the start of the ride before we were able to make it out of the park and into the street. From here, the crowd moved for several blocks as tightly packed pedestrians before space opened up and we were able to start pedaling.
While some local media had been pushing a narrative that certain neighbors were less than thrilled about WNBR coming to their neighborhood, the reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. Despite going nowhere near downtown, the route was lined with thousands of cheering residents eager to witness the legend that is the World Naked Bike Ride. Many parents even brought young kids out to view the nude throngs of cyclists. Won’t somebody think of the children?!
The only drawback of the residential route was that several times the ride bottle-necked due to narrow streets sporadically lined with parked cars, and we were again forced to walk slowly instead of riding. Having not announced the route ahead of time for a number of reasons, homeowners likely couldn’t have moved their cars in time anyway. Regardless, it’s hard not to notice what a nuisance automobiles can be even while immobile.
Regardless, this was thoroughly enjoyable event that received a surplus of national and international press coverage. Myself and a friend were interviewed by a reporter from Reuters, though our quotes didn’t make their piece.
While less extensive, check out my own photos from the ride below. A larger gallery of images I shot in 2012 can be found here.
We’ll have to wait another year for the love-fest that is World Naked Bike Ride to return, however Pedalpalooza is just getting started – there’s still hundreds more rides to cherish.
See you in the streets!
All images copyright Hart Noecker.