Portland likes to think it's weird for hosting a naked bike ride. But such rides, which, depending on who you believe began in either Canada or Spain, have become popular everywhere from Brazil to New Hampshire—and yes, the Brazilian ride is much better for observers. With Portland's own pasty-ass ride clogging traffic this weekend, let's look at happenings from World Naked Bike Rides around the world.
Riders must be quite careful to avoid arousal while riding in Jolly Olde England. World Naked Bike Ride officials in Canterbury told a man with an erection to put his pantaloons on. "We do not accept this behaviour," said the organizer. There was, predictably, a backlash, but as of now the Brits maintain a total boner ban in their rides. Also, riders should be of age—a recent naked ride in Brighton became controversial when an 8-year-old girl rode nude, scandalizing locals.
In the college town of Bellingham, organizers make every possible effort to make the gathering of naked people a "safe space." "We set up really good parameters and appropriate interaction with one another," said an organizer. "It's a really fun, inspiring and nonsexual event. It's really important to have clothes-free time that's not sexualized." (Despite this, the Bellingham ride was marred by the citation of one Christopher Ian O'Dell, 33, who had his young daughter on a trailer behind him.)
Rural folks in Montana have the distinction of mounting the only organized opposition to the event anywhere in the entire world. In 2014, opponents of a clothing-optional bike ride "packed" a city council meeting and spent 90 minutes complaining about the fact that the city issued a permit. "Our children will be scarred for life if they see anything like this," the Missoulian newspaper quoted a yokel as saying. "Anybody who rides without clothing in our city should be arrested, put in handcuffs and taken to jail," said another yokel. Yes, in Montana there is actually something edgy about a large group of people riding bicycles in body paint. (The permit was allowed.)
Our northern neighbors spend the weeks before the ride nannying participants. In Edmonton, organizers put together warnings about the need for sunscreen, bottled water, bike bags and a soft cushion for seats. "Your butt can get sweaty on a plastic seat, so it's nice to cover it with some material," said the planner.
In western New York state, which staged its first naked bike ride a few weeks ago, riders should definitely pack some clothes. The after-party was scheduled for a bar called Handlebar, where shoes and underwear were required.
In car-loving L.A., riders should expect to engage in violent confrontations with irritated locals. In 2011, riders were âpunched by angry motorists, called anti-gay slurs and injured in unprovoked attacks on the route in Echo Park,â according to the LAist blog. In 2013, one rider on a bike path was punched and another had a glass bottle thrown at him. In L.A., this shit ainât cute.
Be glad you live in Portland, where a naked bike ride barely counts as weird anymore.
GO: Portland's World Naked Bike Ride is Saturday, June 27. Riders gather at Colonel Summers Park, Southeast 17th Avenue and Taylor Street, at 8 pm; ride starts at 9 pm. Free (donations requested). See pdxwnbr.org for more details.