Eastney Naturists

Campaigning to Save the Beach

The World Naked Bike Ride. What a fantastic experence.

The day started for me with a trip to Portsmouth to meet a fellow rider who had not yet made up his mind whether to do the ride naked. I took the long route to his house and went via the nudist beach at Eastney for a stroll in the warm morning sun. That set me up for the day.

I’ll leave out the boring details of the journey to London but we found ourselves at Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank at about 1:45 where I was to hire a bike for the afternoon. The London Bicycle Tour Company has a very large stock of mountain bikes and at £3 per hour is very reasonable.

So, with newly hired bike under me we headed through the busy streets of the capital towards Hyde Park where the riders were supposed to meet. There is a place near the Old Police House, close to the Serpentine, which is a traditional naturist area and this was the meeting point. We were somewhat alarmed at the fact that there were only about a dozen people there – some of whom didn’t look like they were the sort to be stripping off. We had awful visions of being very exposed if we were amongst so few people riding nude that day. However, this was not where the ride was to start from so we assured ourselves that when we got back to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner there would be many more people.

And so it proved to be. The area around the Wellington Arch was absolutely packed with cyclists, photographers and spectators. Some people wanted to do body painting and had a variety of slogans scrawled on their bodies. One man was painted from head to toe in tiger stripes, another was multicoloured all over, a girl with angel wings stuck on her back. Most remained clothed until closer to the start of the ride. Once we were within a few minutes of the start a cry went up and the stripping off began. Men, women, fat, thin, old and young, people started to get naked and get on their bikes. Some were on roller blades, most on bikes, some had a variety of piercings in all imaginary parts of the body, some bits of the body were pierced that you probably had not imagined.

It’s 3:30 and time for the off. By now we had been photographed by professionals, amateurs, newscrews, documentary makers, tourists etc and there was no room left for modesty. Critical Mass to the front and everyone else to follow. This was supposed to be a demonstration primarily to protest about oil dependency but some of us were there just for the ride.

Its off!! Here we go! Three or four cyclists just block off the road with themselves and their bikes at Hyde Park Corner, for Christ’s sake. The rest of us rode out into the street and headed down Piccadilly, filling the road so that the cars can’t get past. This is wonderful. Don’t you just hate cyclists? The day was overcast at times and not overly warm but the exercise was about to make things better. With the wind in our hair and over our bodies we cycled at a leisurely pace along the road and before we knew it we were at Piccadilly Circus. This place is a byword for congestion and being busy and, boy, was it busy! We were in a jam now and going nowhere, hundreds of people on both sides of the street – a sea of smiling faces. Open topped buses full of tourists cheering and waving at us.

On now towards Trafalgar Square. When we got there I didn’t realise that there was a special presentation going on – something awfully serious to do with architecture and London’s bid for the Olympics. We just rode straight through all of it. Bloody cyclists. If we lose the bid for the Olympics l am partly to blame. I am humbled.

Anyway, Nelson turned a blind eye and so did the leaders of the ride. We had previously been forbidden to ride down Whitehall but that is where we were led. We all rode past Downing Street, pointed at our arses and shouted, “Kiss this Tony.” He wasn’t there, didn’t care and didn’t kiss it so we carried on past the Cenotaph and took a left at Big Ben.The relative quiet of Whitehall gave way to throngs of people as we came past the Houses of Parliament and headed over Westminster Bridge. More cheers from the bystanders and shouts and whistling from the riders. Once over the bridge we stopped in the road for a few minutes to allow the back markers to catch up.

Then it was on to Waterloo with people exiting the station over the concourse toward the Shell centre smiling and cheering. Now around the Imax cinema and there are still lots of people lining the route. Everyone seems to have a camera or a camera-phone. From here we head for, and over, London Bridge. One or two grim-faced women, walking over the bridge, eyes straight ahead, thin, white, compressed lips. Obvious disapproval. This seems to be a minority view this afternoon.

We rode along some other streets until we reached Covent Garden and surprised the al fresco diners and drinkers along with the theatre-goers. I guess we must have provided a little theatre of our own this afternoon. Soon we were at Leicester Square, is there a better place to have a premiere? Then we were into Charing Cross Road, one of the main shopping streets in London, Saturday afternoon 250 naked cyclists came into view. The pavements on both sides were thick with smiling and cheerful people not quite believing the evidence of their own eyes. Now there’s a hold up at the junction of Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street. We are at a standstill and able to engage with the bystanders. They take photos, we tell them to join in next year. It’s a wonderful thing that nobody seems to be offended by us at all. Lots of good humour and fun by all.

Eventually the congestion clears and we enter the lion’s den that is Oxford Street. To the right nothing but buses and taxis, hooting their horns, passengers waving from the tops of the open top tourist buses. To the left, hordes of shoppers six deep at the edge of the road. More cheering, laughing, smiling faces. This is fun for everyone. We can only ride slowly down here but the reception from the crowds is almost unbelievable. If we were the victorious team at the FA Cup displaying the trophy it could hardly have been any better.

It seems to me that everybody these days has a camera in their pocket or a camera-phone ready for use in an instant. I have no idea how many hundreds or even thousands of people may have images of me by now but I’m sure that none of them knows me and so my anonymity is secure. Most of these images will be kept long enough to show friends and relatives what they saw on the day. In a week or two from now most will have been deleted to make way for different ones.

Eventually we leave the arena and move on out to the almost empty Park Lane. Past the posh hotels such as the Dorchester and the Inn on the Park. Very little traffic here and we are able to speed up and cool down.

We now approach the US Embassy which is the focus for those more politically motivated riders. We are held up here too. Whilst we are waiting we are entertained by one naked, female lovely jumping up and down on a security barrier shouting, “My bush for President, My bush for President”, to which we all shouted some hearty encouragement.

Once we were on the move again we arrived at our destination and start point, Wellington Arch. We were finished and had done what we hardly dared to do and knew instantly that we would have to be here again next year.

Only, it will have to be on roller blades. That will be different.

© Eastney Naturist Beach Liaison Group- Eastney Naturists