Some days things don’t work out quite the way you planned. Yesterday’s World Naked Bike Ride was a bit like that for me.
As other media appear to be trying to pretend that a hundred naked didn’t actually ride around Lake Burley Griffin yesterday I’ll try and explain the whole experience.
Snowball Alice has written at length about the official aims and objectives. I was there for two reasons:
– because my friends were doing it and if things turned ugly I wanted to be there to do what I could.
– and also because a pretty girl had asked me if I was going to do it and I’d been drunk enough to say yes.
(Note: If you’ve got photos we can use send them into firstname.lastname@example.org, thanks to Silas from CityNews for the cover shot, more in the slideshow below which may offend the easily offended but was all OK for public display according to the police.)
UPDATED: Video of proceedings now available below thanks to Limp Jimmy
As the day dawned I was just planning on riding my freak-chopper Rodrigo. But Bloody Mary (Bloody Mary is a man) had been slaving away getting a battery powered amp and speakers running on Master Gravity (a side by side tandem tallbike). When his co-pilot dropped out I stepped into the breach and discovered I was now two metres in the air on the loudest machine in the postcode.
Keeping a low profile was out of the question.
With some cursing, swearing, huffing and puffing we manhandled the beast to the boat hire shed in Acton.
Oh my… so very many naked people, in body paint… and a community picnic of the elderly right next door.
Greatness thrust upon us
The organisers took a look at our loud, large conveyance and requested… that we lead the ride… (*Gulp*).
We were needed at police briefings. A dude from TripleJ wanted to do an interview… now I’m a spokesperson?
I stripped down to my underpants (I had checked they were clean and stain free at the start of the day and liberally applied sunblock).
Becoming increasingly anxious Bloody Mary and I availed ourselves of the contents of his hip flask (I have know idea where he stored that thing on the ride now that I think about it)
Here we go!
And then it was time to go. We muscled MGE (the “E” is for Esquire) onto the bikepath, climbed into the saddles, ignored the swearing of the sports cyclist trying to zoom through the picnic area at the speed of sound, and set off in a blare of disco beats.
It’s possible a straight man has looked gayer in human history. But it’s unlikely.
The accompanying police zoomed around on their bikes, onlookers waved, cars tooted their horns.
I looked behind me and… Jesus on a bike! Naked people stretching away as far as the eye could see… following me…
The police closed the footpath of Commonwealth Avenue bridge and we were a full blown circus by then.
The Greatest Show On Earth
Naked people on unicycles, rollerderby girls in a coat of paint and a smile zipping through the mass, unicyclists with a dab of paint over their nipples, larger older men on recumbent bikes, Rat Patrollers on freakbikes, a cargo bike carrying the girl who’s bike had broken down on the morning, a bass player on a penny farthing showing off his nipple piercings, … a cavalcade of the bizarre.
The ride wended its way up to Parliament House, freaking out the morning of the protective services officers, it was agreed we could take a breather in the protest zone.
Naked people posed for photos on the foundation stone of Canberra, water was provided.
And then we were off again. An easy downhill cruise to the lake shore. Only we got slightly lost from the planned route.
Amidst consultation with the police and the organisers we found a way.
Naked Bike Ride meets car show
With a hundred odd naked people behind me daubed with slogans like “one less car” I found myself leading the circus through…. an enormous motor show.
Large, squat men and women stared in slack jawed amazement and muttered about how they were receiving insufficient respect.
Circling past Questacon Bloody Mary and I made a command decision. We were shooting the Commonwealth Place keyhole.
Turning onto the path at the top of the grade I noticed a woman in a white dress at the bottom of the tunnel… And a photographer…
“Wedding!” I shouted.
Behind me the cry was taken up “It’s a wedding”.
Speakers doofing the tandem tallbike ran down the slope followed by a hundred naked people.
The photographer moved fast and got the bride and groom into position for what might well be the coolest wedding photo anyone’s ever had.
Things ground to a halt while more photos were taken with crazy naked people and the bridal party.
Rounding the final turn
Over Kings Avenue, oh hey there’s Walky having a picnic! “Hiya Walky how’re you going? What me? No I do this stuff all time”
A stop at the Carillion for water (and a brief swim for some), and then back through Commonwealth Park to where we started.
People put their clothes back on, looked at each other and said “I can’t quite believe I just did that.”
The group dispersed.
Bloody Mary put Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” into the speakers, and Master Gravity departed across the overpass, bearing us with it.
Huge credit needs to go to the police for their efficiency in keeping everyone safe and their professionalism in the face of a strange and possibly slightly trying group.
The ride certainly upset quite a lot of people, particularly at the car show.
On the other hand it made quite a lot of people very happy, not least the riders.
Not everyone got naked, some kept their clothes on entirely.
When next year’s rolls around I highly recommend it as an experience.
While there were some people who were, shall we say, beautiful in their own special way, there were a hell of a lot of very attractive young men and women. And I failed to get the phone numbers of any of the young women.
[Slideshow photos so far by: Silas from CityNews (more coverage of this in the upcoming edition), Damien Haas (who was at the motor show when we appeared), and Bryan Kilgallin]