We had a good turn out of some 30 eager souls Saturday for the WNBR in Montpelier VT. Not bad for an endeavor which boasts an organic organizational model and is tucked away in a small town in Vermont, about consistent with the past years. The weather was overcast and in the mid fifties (F). The rain held off till later in the afternoon when I decided to head up into the hills for a hike. The conveyances included the usual array of bikes in various states of repair, a human powered lawn mower, and a vintage high wheeler. Missing this year were roller blades, and skate boards. Though this particular WNBR may be small in comparison to the London version and others around the globe, there is no shortage of enthusiasm amongst participants and observers alike. It has become an annual town favorite.
I was joined there by another member of ANANEC our New England freehiking club, who drove up from the opposite corner of the state to join us. There were five women in the group, one of whom pedaled the mower the entire distance. a regular who rides the high wheeler every year, who once again refrained from wearing the dandy Victorian garb that he usually wears to other events. He is out riding his machines nearly every weekend during the summer in all manner of events. There was one fellow in our group who was far more heavily inked than I and sported some serious body mods as well, an interesting guy to chat with. His female friend very eager to bare all, but a newbie to nudism, commented enthusiastically about "how freeing it felt to be amongst all of these naked humans." as she prepared her bike. Ages ranged from three lads just out of high school to folk a few years further on like me, with many in between. It was a first time for the young guys and they enthusiastically said that they will return "again and again" in years to come. I met a younger fellow from my neck of the woods who regularly freehikes up in the conservation woods on the North Shore (MA) He invited me to walk with him on Saturday mornings, an invitation that I will most definitely follow up on when my schedule permits.
We followed the traditional route from past years that took us the length of the two main streets of town, looping around a couple of side streets to retrace some sections of our ride twice. There was a lengthy pause and assembly at the steps of the Statehouse for photo ops. We of course, wishing to set a good example for cyclists everywhere, followed all relevant traffic rules, riding in the proper direction on one way streets, stopping at all red lights, and or course not riding on any sidewalks. Stopping at the lights gave us time to converse with drivers around us in the adjacent lanes during the pause. The support of the public was evident in the smiles on the faces of observers that we past everywhere. A few citizens had come by earlier as we were assembling for the ride in the parking lot behind FreeRide, to inquire and make sure that we were going to ride again this year. There are those who enjoy riding in this event, and there are clearly many more who enjoy celebrating as observers, such is the level of acceptance of nudity in our society. Some are just not comfortable with the thought of baring all themselves, but enjoy seeing the enjoyment of others doing so in a simple non-treatening way. There were many cheers, high fives, thumbs ups, and much laughter throughout the ride course, citizens and tourists alike clearly laughing with us, not at us. On women called out from the crowds drawn by our passage to the curbstones "thank you for making my day, er making my week!"
We made an adhoc decision toward the end of the traditional route to extended the ride out to a short section of the rail trail along the river riding out to the edge of town and looping back along a section of Barre Street to the starting point at FreeRide. The change added a nice sense of closure to the ride, which has always seemed to end before it began in the past. This ride was one of the most fun events in which I have participated in a long time, and I believe that best of the rides that I have attended in Montpelier.
Boston to follow in a couple of weeks, Saturday June 29 meeting on the Common at the bandstand at 10pm for a stealth ride through the streets of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. This ride was written up in the recent edition of N magazine. I will be there. All are welcome.
Having a few hours of daylight left following the ride, I headed west out of Montpelier to freehike a section of the Long Trail for three and a half hours up in the Ap Gap east of Irasville. A wonderful solo hike in a very lush woodland setting, the air heavy with the scent of early spring, the sounds of rain gently drifting down upon me through the canapy, no vistas to see from the overlooks except the extremely low clouds that enveloped me all around, for I was walking within them the entire time. The recent heavy rains had left the trail a morass of mud and had me scaling up some substantial waterfalls. Enchanting and free of tourists, though I had parked my car amongst eight others at the trail head. Near ideal conditions for a freehike. I only encountered two solitary hikers, a man and a women on two separate occasions. They both took my nudity in good humor. It is wonderful to be naked, and on foot in Vermont once again. On the way home, around 8pm, still with daylight (!), love this time of year, I took a quick skinny dip in the swollen Mad River. The current was too strong to swim against, so I had to content myself with walking up river and then being swept down river by the brisk flow. Needless to say, the waters were bracing.
All in all, a great day in Vermont, celebrating as a nudist must from time to time. -freewalkerma-