World Naked Bike Ride Chicago 2008

On Saturday night I took part in the World Naked Bike Ride Chicago 2008.

Shannon and Steve hosted a BBQ that day (more to come on that in Tim's Food Corner this week) so I was able to get well fed and, more importantly, a little uninhibited before what I thought was the 6 pm start time. Upon arrival at the meet point, I was instructed on the real start point and time which was somewhere in the west loop at 9 pm. No problem, more time to eat and drink at Shannon's. The weather was perfect for a night of scantily clad biking through Chicago. When I arrived at the real start place at 8:45, people were stripping down to whatever they would ride in. There were no rules on the clothing. About a third of the guys were totally naked, most women were topless and about a fourth of them were also bottomless. There was a painting area at this departure point. I didn't participate in that and chose to ride in my purple American Apparel boxer briefs. Imagine this guy with a furry chest, these shoes and a messenger bag.

I took some video:

On Washington going under a bridge, hooting, hollering...

Crossing the river...

On Wacker, passing under the brown line El train...

On Oak Street about to turn onto Rush Street. What Is Love? by Haddaway playing out of glowing speakers on some rider's trailer. I like when someone yells, "Dance party!!"

The ride was really one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. Riding around in 70 weather in my underwear was excellent, but only a small part of what made the ride so cool. I like bikes a lot so it's always great to see that there are such a large group of us in Chicago. Cops in Chicago are far from perfect, but they were awesome on Saturday night. They knew the route so they were ahead of us at every intersection blocking car traffic. I didn't see any hassling or arrests. Basically, we had the CPD's full support as far as I could tell. The best thing about a ride like this, or even a good Critical Mass, is the way all the people on the street react. It was Saturday night and we went through plenty of hopping nightlife neighborhoods, so people that weren't already on the sidewalk were pouring out of restaurants and bars to see us. Everyone would smile and laugh, some took pictures, some cheered, either way I think it's safe to say we made a lot of people's night. We were the centerpiece of an impromptu parade and everyone loved it. The strongest reaction from people on the street came from women over 40. Part of the mission of the ride was to promote a positive body image (the other part was to promote freedom from oil addiction). These women on the street were really excited to see so many other women on bikes showing off their bodies, many of which were awesome, but just as many were less than perfect. They would get right up next to the mass of riders and high five us, cheering and smiling.

Some people in the ride weren't even riding bikes. I saw one guy, butt-ass naked, riding a unicycle. This wasn't a terribly long ride, but it wasn't that short either. He was sweating like crazy. It was hilarious. Also hilarious was the dude running, with no help from wheels whatsoever, in cowboy boots, otherwise totally naked. He carried his shirt and pants in his arms. This guy was definitely a favorite of both the riders and onlookers. He looked like he had just been released from a kidnapping then pushed out of a van into a crowd of naked bike riders in the middle of Chicago.

In summation, I can't wait for next year and you should all come along too.

For many more pictures (better nudity) check out this photo set from a Flickr user that calls herself Steak n Eggs.


Kelly said...

Naked bike riding is probably the most liberating feeling. In Seattle there is an annual solstice parade that involves an enormous naked bike ride section. My first year out here myself, Joe and a bunch of friends participated. I LOVED it. We also had the experience of making the day brighter for many people. The first part of the ride is not a part of the parade, but rather in a quiet neighborhood called Ballard. Some folks who know nothing about the Solstice Parade were shocked to see all the junk and tatas flying around. It was fantastic. A few bikers, not a part of the parade, simply stopped - undressed and joined the parade. It was so great.
Anyone looking for a fun, exciting and crazy experience that makes you feel beautiful...go naked bike riding. Oh yeah, and the paint does help you feel like you are covered up. Here is a link....notice the adorable white tiger and giraffe. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodavid/2048428402/in/set-72157603239263900/