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Jun 13 2013

Ah, Portland…

It’s a very Oregonian thing, you see. It’s the World Naked Bike Ride, in which 5,000+ residents show up downtown, take off all their clothes, and pedal about. They also visit museums. I’ve been to a surprising number of Oregon events where people just shuck off everything, completely unselfconsciously. Damned hippies. Gotta love ‘em.

There are photos at the link, but mostly tasteful — at most you’ll be flashed with a few bare butts.

46 comments

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  1. 1
    Jackie

    Well, I’m ready to move there now.

  2. 2
    AussieMike

    I wonder what it feels like to be publically naked with crushed perineum nerve syndrome. If you’re not sure what that is it’s when (for a man at least) you ride around for half an hour, get off and you can’t even feel you own penis! Women get it too; it’s an equal opportunity condition.
    All I know it’s weird and very disconcerting.
    And I hope there are a few antiseptic wipes available for when they finish the event!

  3. 3
    PZ Myers

    When are women able to feel their own penis? That would be weird and disconcerting.

  4. 4
    AussieMike

    I knew you would pull me up on that.

  5. 5
    SallyStrange

    I’m unable to feel my own penis 100% of the time… it’s normal.

  6. 6
    magistramarla

    Ah, I love the west coast!

  7. 7
    sezme

    The ride starts at 10 pm. Where’s the fun in that? How ’bout 10 am.

  8. 8
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’d almost be on board with this except for not owning a bike, not having ridden one in a while, and the thought of having bare feet so close to the pedal mechanism terrifies me.

    Could I keep my shoes on at least? D:

  9. 9
    Hatchetfish

    “Could I keep my shoes on at least?”
    Many (Most?) do.

  10. 10
    bassmanpete

    I wonder what it feels like to be publically naked with crushed perineum nerve syndrome.

    I hadn’t heard of this condition so googled it. The first reference stated the following:

    Pudendal nerve entrapment (PNE), also known as Alcock canal syndrome…

  11. 11
    Anthony Popple

    I would like to think that Minnesota has a significant population of people who are that brave and open-minded. The brutal truth is that the climate is not conducive to such activities; a person would have to choose between frostbite and sunburn.

  12. 12
    Rumtopf

    *plays some Queen*
    :D

  13. 13
    Stacy

    It was held in Los Angeles too. I’d never heard of it before. I was at my bank’s ATM, about to withdraw some cash, and lo and behold there were a bunch of naked people cycling down Sunset Boulevard.

    My camera phone was too slow for any decent shots, with the exception of one tired fellow:

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/1002415_10201087403725241_1414536653_n.jpg

    I don’t think we had anywhere close to 5,000 participants, though.

  14. 14
    phillipbrown

    I participated in the Melbourne one (held annually in March) about 3 years ago. Did it as one of those ‘if I can do this, I can do anything’ type of challenges. Surprisingly, when you are in a crowd of naked people, the fact of your own nakedness seems to disappear – kind of like fish swimming in schools – it is when you are on your own, you stand out.

    There was also a WNBR in Melbourne the same day as the Portland ride. ‘Spanner Weather’ would be the correct description.

  15. 15
    Jeff

    I’m from Oregon, and I don’t understand it. It was 62 F today, and could equally likely have been in the fifties and pouring down rain. At least hold it in September.

  16. 16
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I only feel comfortable being nude behind closed doors (with or without a sexual partner or two). Heck, even in gym locker rooms, I still feel a measure of discomfort. This bike ride would not be for me. Glad some people are enjoying it.
    Question for non-USians- is public nudity less taboo in other countries?

  17. 17
    erikthebassist

    Question for non-USians- is public nudity less taboo in other countries?

    Really Tony? Are you that sheltered? Even Canadians allow a certain amount of nudity on public television. Most Europeans are completely comfortable with it. Picked up a National Geographic magazine since you were ten? Geesh.

    YES, Americans are uptight about nudity! Unfortunately, not the MOST uptight, as showing your face in public if you are a woman can get you killed in some back asswards cultures still to this day.

    But still, dumb fucking question.

  18. 18
    erikthebassist

    and probably a wayyy too harsh response to a harmless question, sorry Tony, been a little cranky lately.

  19. 19
    microraptor

    The ride starts at 10 pm. Where’s the fun in that? How ’bout 10 am.

    Heh, spoken like someone who hasn’t been downtown in Portland at 10 pm.

  20. 20
    phillipbrown

    link to the website for the Melbourne rides

    http://www.asbareasyoudare.com/

  21. 21
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    The ride starts at 10 pm. Where’s the fun in that? How ’bout 10 am.

    There are earlier rides too. It’s just the main one that’s at 10.

  22. 22
    Lofty

    The riding naked isn’t the horrible bit, it’s sticking to the bare vinyl seat that irritated me when I tried it.
    Chamois lined nix are your best friend on a bike!

  23. 23
    AussieMike

    #22 Even worse Lofty is jumping on a vinyl seat once it’s been in the baking sun for a while. Perhaps that’s why it’s at 10 at night, to avoid an assortment of roasted genitalia and the smell of burnt rectal tissue.

  24. 24
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Most Europeans are completely comfortable with it. Picked up a National Geographic magazine since you were ten?

    Despite what this may imply, riding bikes naked is usually done as performance art, protest or something similar to this thing in Oregon.
    I don’t get what picking up NG has to do with anything, unless you once saw a photo of a topless woman on a beach and thought that means “Europe is totally cool with people walking around naked”.
    A beach is a beach, not all beaches have topless women (at least not in this country) (and nudist beaches are always isolated or have some sort of boundary around it – again, not speaking for all of Europe), and professional photographers usually look for good-looking topless women when taking photos on a beach.

    Yeah, I’d say we’re “better” than US at this when it comes to tv, but it looks from your post as if you’re seeing a bit too much into the difference.

    —-
    Tony,
    As someone very self-conscious about my body, I could never participate in something like this either. Naked bike rides aside, it is not a good feeling to have.

    —-
    Not necessarily related to this, but in general:
    I can’t really analyze how much attitudes towards nudity differ in countries across Europe, but I am somewhat annoyed that the whole place regularly gets lumped together in whatever generalization is the topic of the day.

  25. 25
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    “better” is in between “” because I have opinions (many many of them) about how much attitudes towards nudity here are really better when it depends on which actor (actress!) is nude, and so much more stuff about sexism in movies and treatment of women… and that would get reaaally off topic.

  26. 26
    microraptor

    #22 Even worse Lofty is jumping on a vinyl seat once it’s been in the baking sun for a while. Perhaps that’s why it’s at 10 at night, to avoid an assortment of roasted genitalia and the smell of burnt rectal tissue.

    Not this time of year in Portland. It rarely gets above mildly warm. Late July or August is about the only time it really is in danger of actually getting hot.

  27. 27
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    …crushed perineum nerve syndrome…

    This is not an inevitable condition and for most folk there’s an easy solution to it. If you’re ever in Myrtleford, Vic drop by my shop and I’ll sort you out.

  28. 28
    Island Adolescent

    I could not find a single minority in those pictures…

  29. 29
    =8)-DX

    As someone very self-conscious about my body, I could never participate in something like this either. Naked bike rides aside, it is not a good feeling to have.

    Just curious what is the “not a good feeling to have”? Because being naked in a public setting where it’s socially acceptable is a wonderful feeling. Of course feeling self-conscious about one’s body is not a good feeling, that’s understandable.

  30. 30
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Of course feeling self-conscious about one’s body is not a good feeling, that’s understandable.

    That one. Sorry that I wasn’t clear.

  31. 31
    campbellmcaulay

    The good thing about riding a bike with clothes on (if you’re a bloke), the REALLY good thing, is that everything is safely tucked away. Getting nekkid is fine, but crushed danglies… that’s got to be a problem, right?

  32. 32
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @EriktheBassist

    Most Europeans are completely comfortable with it.

    Except for us Englishers. But we are getting better :) I think if the climate were a bit nicer we’d be over our national prudishness by now. It’s hard to insist that everyone be covered all the time when it’s consistantly above 25C outside. However, when 25C is your idea of a scorcher, prudishness becomes much easier.

  33. 33
    Lofty

    campbellmcaulay:

    Getting nekkid is fine, but crushed danglies… that’s got to be a problem, right?

    Not really, you sit on your buttocks not your danglies. They’re out the front. And if its cold they shrink nicely out of danger. If I ever did a NBR again, I’d invest in a nice sheepskin cover for the saddle. Or just leave the bike shorts on.

  34. 34
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Lofty

    Not always. I have previously, on a hot day while wearing loose underwear, had the unpleasant experience of sitting on my own testicles. Three times, actually. It really is quite painful.

  35. 35
    Rey Fox

    How ’bout 10 AM.

    How ’bout no?

  36. 36
    teejaykay

    Hee. Wouldn’t bother me. The cops over here (if asked for permission) would probably say yes. We’re more worried about violence in films and TV-series than nudity, so no surprise there.

    Apropos, considering I’ve seen most of my family members (and they me) naked due to sauna and trips to a summer cottage, well, I can speak only on my own behalf, but nudity doesn’t bother me. I still go to sauna with my wife, cousin and her husband occasionally when visiting home.

    re: Danglies

    I keep getting asked my wife why it doesn’t hurt when you ride a bike with, uh… testicles. I had to ask: “Well, why don’t girls get… you… know… hurt?”

    The answer I got was rather interesting. I’ll leave it at that.

  37. 37
    campbellmcaulay

    @Thumper

    Oh yes. That enthusiastic leap into the saddle… We never learn, do we?

    What worries me more is the consequence of a “nose in”. Properly clad, contact between man bits and handlebars is bad enough. With everything “loose in the wind”? I shudder to think.

  38. 38
    richardelguru

    I go to London (UK) around once a year, and twice in the last three years I’ve met with vast herds of naked cyclists, so it must be pretty common there—either that or I have remarkably good (or bad???) luck.

    I figured that they were protesting the lack of comfortable bicycle seats.

  39. 39
    Lofty

    Thumper, maybe you need one of these.
    .
    campbellmcaulay, enthusiastic leaps are a worry, best avoided by having your saddle set higher! Stand on a pedal, slide back into place. Mmmm, smoothly done! As for “nose ins”, one layer of lycra isn’t that much of a barrier to pain. Maybe a sheepskin cover for the head stem too? The whole bike even if you dare…..

  40. 40
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @campbellmcaulay

    What worries me more is the consequence of a “nose in”. Properly clad, contact between man bits and handlebars is bad enough. With everything “loose in the wind”? I shudder to think.

    Oof, that’s a possibility I hadn’t considered. I winced in sympathy.

    @Lofty

    They look interesting (though those metal bars coming out of the front look as if they could be problematic) but none of my three occurrences happened on a bike. One was on a swing, once on a park bench, and one sitting down at a picnic-style table outside a pub. If that seems remarkably specific, I should point out it’s not an experience you’re likely to forget :-/

  41. 41
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    I’d totally do this if one came to Dallas. (*snort* like that’ll happen.)

    I used to have some serious hangups about being seen naked by others, being a rural Texan and all. Living in Finland for a few years pretty much corrected that. My first sauna experience at a friend’s summer cottage was a very big deal for me. For my daughter (6 yo at the time), not so much. Once I figured out that everybody else was naked and didn’t care, I got over it. Other people’s nonchalance about nudity is a great liberator, IMHO.

    The only problem, now, is that my daughter (now 9) will get naked at the drop of a hat and not even think about it. Now that we’re back in Texas, I’m constantly having to tell her “Don’t walk around the living room naked! The blinds are open.” Of course, I have no good answer for her response “Why not?”
    :-)

  42. 42
    Lynna, OM

    Sally Strange, I love your comment below the article. (Follow PZ’s link, and scroll down to see Sally’s comment within the discussion about Esther’s breasts.)

  43. 43
    Paula Berry

    PZ, you missed the best part. On the day of the WNBR, the Portland Art Museum was having a show about avaunt-garde bicycle design. Admission was $1 per article of clothing you were wearing.

  44. 44
    Kagehi

    Love to see this sort of thing in my city, but.. unless it was tourists doing it (and they already only lowered the number of “tit patrols” purely due to the lack of city money to pay cops to harass such people at the beach), I doubt you could find enough “liberals” to scrape together to pull it off, or convince the “conservatives” here to stop fainting, or babbling Bible versus, long enough to consider doing a protest this way, about something *they* didn’t like. lol

  45. 45
    Crissa

    I never understood the fascination with bicycling nude.

    And I attend Burning Man each year and grew up near Portland, OR.

  46. 46
    Kagehi

    Well, some people would just find “nude in general”, unless it was on bikes, or a parade, or something, to be all sorts of wrong (mind, the same people are the sort that tried to argue that they couldn’t take their daughter to the beach during certain parts of the year here, because she might see a topless women, and get “ideas”… not sure, exactly, which ideas he was worried about, but then.. I am not a complete paranoid either). Bets that while you may find some “nude runs”, you won’t find a lot of “nude walks”, for that very reason.

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