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Your First Naked Ride
If you’re contemplating making this your first naked ride, you aren’t alone. Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride has been growing by at least 50% each year. This year we’re hoping for…We don’t know. More. Trends say 12,500 – about the same as BridgePedal! That means we want a lot of first-timers.
If you want to hear other people describing their experiences on their first naked ride, read the comments on BikePortland.org:
First, an important point of etiquette: Ride your bike to the starting locatoin. Arriving by car with bikes stowed as cargo is a big faux pas. It violates the idea of oil-free sustainability that the ride is all about. If you live in the ¬Ëœburbs, consider riding MAX part of the way. (The last MAX leaves Pioneer Courthouse Square at around 1:20am, and you’ll probably want to have clothes on when you board, so plan ahead.) Or park at an urban friend’s house and ride from there in a group.
You should bring a little food, and a little drink, and something to carry your clothes in. We aren’t selling alcohol this year, which means you can bring your own alcohol. However, do not ride drunk! Seriously, there are hazards on the street and bicycles are not toys. Light social drinking only, please!
When you arrive at the starting point, it will be a scene of happy disarray. Scattered music, general friendliness. Most folks will be wearing clothes at first, until they get a handle on what the scene is like. You’ll gradually see more skin as people loose their shirts for bodypaint, but that’s nothing. (The bodypainting area is likely to be swamped, by the way, so don’t wait until 11:45pm to get painted.)
Around 9:55pm the announcement is made that it’s almost time to ride. We strip down and stuff our clothes into a backpack/fannypack/pannier/saddlebag to take with us. (Backpacks and bodypaint are natural enemies – don’t mix them!) Then we go unlock our bikes, and wait for the rest of the crowd. There will be a countdown so we can all start en masse.
It’s often cold at night, but you won’t feel it for long; adrenaline is a wonderful drug. We’ll head downtown to buzz the bars. Crowds will roar their approval. High-fives will spring forth. We may gain a few extra naked riders along the way. It’s absolutely amazing.
Adrenaline can also make you want to ride fast. Resist that urge. Not everybody has a fast bike, or fast legs. And even some who do will want to savor the experience slowly. This isn’t a race, folks! We want to stay together as best we can.
Typically we buzz the downtown bars along 2nd and 3rd avenues, and along NW 21st and 23rd. The Portland Police will be corking traffic for us, which means riding should be easy but deviations from the route are not possible. If the route doesn’t happen to lead you past your favorite bar, then, I don’t know, maybe lead your own naked after completing ours?
Eventually we return to the starting point. What happens then is¬Â¦ undecided. The ride has always coincided with the Pedalpalooza Kickoff Dance Party before, but not this year. Most likely a lot of people will hang out naked for a while, congratulating each other and telling stories. Maybe dancing by portable sound systems.
There will be afterparties! Once the last riders return (which will probably be at least an hour after the first riders return – there are a lot of riders) groups will splinter off to various afterparties. You can choose one to fit your budget or direction home.
Do not block traffic. The police won’t arrest you for plain ol’ nudity, but they might arrest you for blocking traffic.
Ride at your own risk and watch where you’re going. Many riders won’t be used to riding in a large group. If you then add onlookers jumping into the street to high-five us, and railroad tracks, and (let’s face it) some drunk cyclists, this can be a dangerous ride. There are vast opportunities for doing stupid things. Be careful. Be sober.
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¬Å“Nudity – it isn’t just for sex anymore.¬Â
If you think you’re going to an orgy, then you’re going to be very very disappointed.
We’re using nudity as a way to draw attention to cycling, and the folly of oil dependency. We hope motorists will begin to suspect cyclists have more fun, and hence maybe they don’t need their cars as much as they thought. See thehttp://www.worldnakedbikeride.org/ web site for more socio-political propaganda.
It’s also good, goofy fun.
There are rules at the starting/ending location. The organizers’ mantra is ¬Å“Safe, Comfortable, and Fun,¬Â so anybody at the starting/ending location who makes other participants feel unsafe or unconfortable will be asked to leave. The use of cameras is not allowed at the starting/ending location, with the exception of sactioned film crews who’ll be following strict rules.
The ride itself has no rules since it takes place on public streets, outside of our control. That’s why it’s important for riders to take care of each other.
Ride the bike you have. Don’t obsess over the hardware; any bike will work.
If you have multiple bikes (and aren’t loaning out the extras to friends) then I’d recommend a fat-tire mountain bike or cruiser over a superskinny-tire road bike. This is because fat tires are less likely to get a flat, or slip on railroad tracks or a steel grate bridge. But really any bike will probably work just fine.
You should bring a spare tube. If your bike doesn’t have quick-release skewers, then you should also bring wrenches that fit your bike’s lug nuts. If convenient, you should also bring a pump and tire levers, though you could probably borrow those from another rider in an emergency.
Legally, your bike must have a white headlight in front, and a red reflector or red light in the rear. This is important! The police can’t hassle all 3000 riders, but if you’re the only one who fails to obey this simple law then maybe they’ll focus all their frustration on you. Besides, it’ll probably still be dark out when you ride home afterward, and you’ll want to be visible then for safety’s sake.
Many people decorate their bikes. There won’t be any decoration supplies at the starting point, but the Kickoff Ride (June 10) usually has that sort of thing. Think of this as another reason to do more bike fun than just this naked ride.
How much should I strip down? The dress code is officially ¬Å“As bare as you dare.¬Â Guys typically wear shoes and maybe a helmet. For women there is no consensus – shoes and a helmet make some happy, while others add some combination of a bra, panties, and/or stockings. Strip down to whatever level will maximize your fun. We wouldn’t presume to tell you what that level is.
What if I fall behind or get lost? This isn’t a race, so nobody wants to leave you behind. Traffic will cause us to split into smaller groups, but even if you end up in a group of 20 instead of a group of 3000, you’ll feel safe. Really, you’ll be okay. We take care of each other.
What if I get a flat tire? There are usually bike mechanics along the ride. You can also expect other cyclists to help. But self-sufficiency is the only thing you can actually plan on, particularly since there is no set route, so I suggest that you bring a pump and a spare tube. We’ll never be more than a couple of miles from the start/end location, so first just re-inflate the tire and continue on in the hope that your leak is a slow one. If you must change your tube, change it with the expectation that the naked horde will continue cycling past you for a long, long time. Even if we try to stay in a tight group, a peloton of 3000 riders would be about two miles long.
What if I fall? Injuries are rare. So far I only know of one person who has been injured so badly that he couldn’t finish the ride, and I saw him up and walking the next day. There are usually medics riding along to patch you up, or call 911 if something really bad happens but you might want to bring your own cell phone just in case. By the way, the most common reasons for falling are hitting potholes (especially bombing down Burnside), getting caught in the train/MAX/streetcar tracks, and collisions with other cyclists. Watch where you’re going!
Won’t I get cold? Yes. You’ll start off cold because at the start of the ride we stand around waiting for the stragglers to get ready, so we can all leave together. But once we start, we’ll climb a modest hill and that should warm us up. After that, I promise you won’t feel cold, you’ll just feel a rush. Typically we get a temperature around 60 degrees with light wind.
What can I do to stay warm? Wearing shoes and a helmet help. Big socks. Arm warmers (old socks with the toes snipped off). Maybe a Superman cape. Sadly, I haven’t figured out a way to use those chemical hand warmers while naked, though they sound like they’d be great. If you have any suggestions, please mention them in the forum.
Isn’t this illegal? The city of Portland wishes it was. See The Law.
What if I see a cop? Say ¬Å“Thank you!¬Â They’re corking the streets for us.
Can I participate without a bike? We’ve had skateboarders join us before. Anything human-powered is welcome.