The 2013 London WNBR was superb, well organised and very well attended, so many thanks to the organisers. Previous rides had about 1,200 riders, this year it looked like more. There were certainly more people in London looking on and as usual, their reaction was outstanding. No sign of people being upset, alarmed, distressed or even mildly put off by so many nude people. Rather I saw smiles and happy faces, children being ushered to get a better view and I heard plenty of cheers and shouts of encouragement. A good number stripped off and joined in including at least two tourist rickshaw riders and their passengers.
The ride ended at about the time that a large demonstration in Hyde Park was breaking up so all the nude riders mixed with those people in the fairly small area around Wellington Arch, making it fairly crowed for an open space. The scene was amazing, people standing around chatting, dressed and nude together. Everything looked completely relaxed, just how those of us who prefer life nude would like it. Shame that aspect of the day was short-lived.
For anyone who has not taken part in one of the rides, just do it. You cannot say there were a lot of photographers, almost everyone was a photographer and that includes the riders! In that respect it is not an event for those fearful of being photographed, but as so many photos were taken, the chance of a photo of you being seen is remote indeed. Some photographers paid more attention to the women but most of these women just smiled back, after all, there is nothing wrong with being nude. I estimate that at least 100,000 people lined the route and in places the sea of onlookers was very large, so these rides are not for those fearful of being seen nude. The other side of that is our desire to make nudity normal, completely acceptable in society, so it would be rather silly to take the view that being seen is to be avoided. I take the view that being nude in a very crowded London is an effective means to spread the idea that nudity is good, wholesome and not a threat to the fabric of society.
As the rides are demonstrations about using less oil and the need to have more bike lanes etc., one aim is to choke the traffic. That we certainly did, so much so that at times the ride stopped for quite long periods, completely blocking important roads like Piccadilly. That meant the bystanders had a good chance to look, walk through the stationary riders to cross the road, engage in conversation, take photos etc. but above all to drink in the scene, lots of nude people in one of the principal cities of the world. As many were tourists, the message of their holiday in London will go right round the world, a message that people can be sincere, peaceful and be having fun, yet be quite nude.
22 thoughts on “The 2013 London WNBR”
Very interesting article! Thanks for the post even though I'm reading it almost a year late. Going on a WNBR particularly the London one is something I've always wanted to do. Maybe I should plan for next year's. Where does one register for the ride and do they supply riders with a list of bike shops to rent the bike from? I imagine the demand would be so great on that day that it may be hard to find a bike shop to rent a bike from.
A great report – thank you. I attended the Portsmouth and the Brighton ones this year and it was a fantastically liberating experience. The crowds were friendly as you say. However I was too inhibited to talk to many onlookers and have real dialogue. I think I need to work on myself a bit here.
Howard, would you mind if I link your essay intact and with credit to you, to the Boston WNBR FB site in support to a lead up to the Boston ride to take place in a couple of weeks? What you have described so well about the London ride may encourage some newbies to join our ride there. -Dan-
Daniel, spread it as wide as you like!
thanks Howard, it's on its way
Nice report Howard. My experience this past several years in the Vermont rides confirms every important point of which you speak, namely the overwhelmingly positive response of the large crowds of onlookers and tourists who will no doubt spread the concept that simple nudity in public is normal and non-threatening where ever it happens. The WNBR as a world wide phenomena is by far one of the best ways that I have encountered to break down the walls of fear and misunderstanding that has kept textile and caged nudist apart all of these years. Like nudity itself, the WNBR just feels good. Not to mention, it is so much fun to be part of.
If you amongst the folks out there reading this thread have never done this, don't waste time thinking about the next one. Don't worry too much about your carbon footprint made by traveling 200 or 2000 miles to one near you in order to ride a green bike for a couple of miles. This is every bit as much and more about fostering a closer understanding amongst humans. Just do it! You will have no regrets.
With some experience to put behind you, you may feel confident to help organize a new one closer to home in time.
"…the overwhelmingly positive response of the large crowds of onlookers and tourists who will no doubt spread the concept that simple nudity in public is normal and non-threatening where ever it happens" – this is something I think is really important too.
All the WNBR events do help spread this concept I think. I feel that the ones held in places where there are plenty of tourists, both local and from abroad, really can help spread the fact that nudity is as you say.
Whenever I've chatted with onlookers, and happily joined them for photographs they have always been positive experiences, even if there is a novelty value of nudists and textiles mixing. Some people I know from local nudist places regard this as an exhibitionist thing to do, saying we are flaunting our nudity. I simply see it as how I'd like life to be, and hope the continual success of WNBR's and similar events lead to a wider acceptance of straightforward nudity in society.
I'd be curious to find out what the reaction of friends and families of the tourists who have photographs of themselves with participants is, when they see them with us nudists in well known places.
My sister-in-law in Perth, Western Australia tells me the TV News coverage there of the London WNBR was very positive. That may help change public perceptions, their police are not as well disposed towards nudes as London coppers.
Well summed up Howard. The descriptions of the mixing of nude and clothed people do indeed describe well how I'd like society to be. The demonstration was the Big IF, campaigning to eliminate hunger, so those involved were likely to be in favour of reducing carbon fuel use too. The interaction with them, onlookers and naked cyclists, if sadly for only a few hours, I agree is something to experience.
I've been on quite a few of the WNBR events, I've never seen myself in photos apart from in my own and friends' though. I've not scoured the internet, just casual searches when I've seen a report. I've chatted with onlookers and been photographed with them. So if this is typical and anyone is unsure about participating and being seen nude online, my experience indicates that this should not be a big worry.
Personally I don't mind who sees me nude, but if you're not so open about being a nudist, just do it, there are a lot of other naked people and you shouldn't stand out like a single naked one would. Even if for just a few hours, it does really feel like public nudity is as it should be, completely normal and accepted. It is also a lot of fun. I've cycled past the same tourist sights you see on the rides a few days later, it feels good to remember being nude there recently, but sad that we can't always be naked.
Good job, Howard.
Thank you very much for this interesting post!
Maybe I should plan to attend next year!