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Friday, June 21, 2013

Grin and bare it

What's more fun than public nudity with 8,000 of your closest friends? Almost nothing, that's what.

Two weeks ago I participated in the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland. The event started years ago as a protest to draw attention to the vulnerability of bicyclists in our roadways and also to celebrate people-powered transportation. Portland regularly sets the record for the biggest turnout. No surprise as Portland has also been named the most bike friendly city in the US.

I hadn't been on my bike in over a year. I'm not an avid cyclist. To be honest, I was totally in it for the nakedness/Portland rite of passage.

I was terrified leading up to the ride- not because I was worried about being naked. Naked schmaked. I was worried my rickety ass bike would betray me or I might fall while riding in this pack of thousands of people. No such disasters! The only thing that betrayed me was my thighs- I need to do more squats because lordy the hills killed me.

I met up with Jason and a few of his friends to ride over to the starting location in the Park Blocks downtown. Even fully clothed, people guessing where we were going began cheering us on our way over. Portland loves naked people almost as much as it loves bikes.

When we got there, it was naked people and glitter and body paint and glow sticks and lights as far as the eye could see. Can you imagine 8,000 naked people hanging out? I can. And it's awesome. I was there for about 10 minutes before going full nakes. Just my tennis shoes and earrings.

It's crazy how quickly the naked becomes normal. Standing in the middle of all of those naked people, you feel uncomfortable in your clothes. You feel like an intruder on all of the naked happiness. Of course, there are folks who don't go totally bare. Lots of ladies wore panties or tutus. The variety of pasties on display was impressive. But there was no judgement- naked, mostly naked, painted, glittered, etc. Nobody cared. By showing up in all of your naked glory you were agreeing not to be an asshole. "Awesome nipple rings!" - totally acceptable. "Nice rack!"- definitely not. People were respectful and any perviness came from the clothed people lined up as spectators. People who came for the orgy must have been really disappointed.

And man, there were a lot of spectators. I should have expected this but I was totally surprised by both the level of disrespect and overwhelming support and positivity coming from those who lined up along the route. Because of the huge crowds, we didn't start moving till about 10:30pm. So we were moving very slowly towards the road, everyone packed in like sardines when a group of guys posted up in the middle of the crowd and began taking photos and commencing in general douchebaggery. Jason got into it with them a bit and it almost got pretty ugly. There were similar groups throughout the ride, but outnumbering them were people cheering, high-fiving, dancing, BBQing naked, moshing naked, and just generally being incredible.

When we finally got moving and I was riding down the street naked with one of my best friends and people cheering for us- that was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. Want to feel like a super hero? Do the naked bike ride.