How I Became A Marshal For WNBR London

by Paul H

There is something indefinably wonderful about being able to exercise a glorious freedom, cycling with the sun and the wind against your body, in a city as beautiful as London. A pure celebration of all that is good and respectful towards others and towards yourself. Whizzing down the Mall, surrounded by happy, laughing naked riders encapsulated that positivity beautifully – this is what great memories are made of!

WNBR Riders on The Mall, London

It would be honest to say that it was with some degree of fear and trepidation that I first investigated marshalling at this year’s naked bike ride in London. I’d taken part in many rides before, mainly Brighton, as both a steward and a rider, and I’d taken part in the early London rides. But this sounded more like a challenge with lots of potential for being tripped up by the unknown.

I’m a happy, “transportational” cyclist, almost a born-again one since taking part in the WNBRs.  I’d felt a bit nervous about cycling after my teenage years and an unpleasant crash, but taking part in the naked bike rides had rekindled my love of cycling, so much so that I sold my car some years ago and became a cycling advocate. Anyway, back to the ride… !

The  planning for the 2021 ride, on Zoom, introduced me to a keen and eclectic team of willing volunteers. Many were seasoned veterans with long years’ experience organising the ride;  some, like me, were pretty new to the London experience. In January, the prospect of the ride seemed like a distant notion, and a  lot of our energy was spent organising “#NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide” events, which marked the original planned date for the ride. When I say “organising”, I hasten to add that I played a very minor role, but the exercise showed me what an enthusiastic, well-motivated and creative team could do, and the resulting #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide Zoom-Ins on 12th June filled me with renewed enthusiasm for the “real” ride that finally went ahead on the 14th of August.

On the day, I turned up embarrassingly early at Tower Hill. Before the ride, when we agreed which location we’d help out at, I’d asked to help at Tower Hill because I knew it was a good start in terms of participants, and was well-organised, led by Nat. It was a happy coincidence that it was also the easiest start for me to get to. I was worried I might not recognise the other marshals, having only seen them on Zoom, but this fear was unfounded. As soon as I arrived, there was Nat sitting in the sun. We were soon joined by Esther and Steve who led the ride with style – Steve in bronze paint like a Greek god and Esther in a rainbow splash of colour. Steve published an excellent blog about the ride (https://steveritterlife.com/2021/09/02/lnbr2021/)  – well worth reading.

Paul (bottom left) with TH Ride Leader Natasha and marshals Steve and Roberto

More riders and photographers (some respectful and some less so) turned up, along with some well-known faces from previous rides like Lucy Muse and Ben, who have made an excellent video of the ride (https://youtu.be/LBajePv1wFw). After an interlude spent getting naked, socialising, laughing and doing some body painting, it was time to start. I had to organise riders to move towards the exit. The magical yellow marshal armband was a great help. People courteously and excitedly listened to directions, mounted up, and soon a very long queue formed.

I had a brief moment of excitement when a rider asked me if I could adjust his calliper brakes just as we were trying to move off into the busy London streets! I checked that they were safe enough and advised that a Fettle bike maintenance team would be at one of our stops. The queue stretched down the road. The tail end was still in the square when we were joined by a band of colourful and happy riders from Deptford. As we moved off, confidently led by Steve, the first challenge took place: corking, or blocking, roads so that the stream of riders could pass through unbroken and with safety. Never has my fat backside been put to better use as it amply blocked the first of many side streets before I moved aside with a wave and a smile to let the surprisingly patient drivers continue on their way.

The ride became a series of ever more efficient corks, interspersed with stops where I had to make sure my riders went the right way. Sprinting to the next cork, whilst having a laugh with other riders, was an unforgettable experience. The spectacular tourist sights of London were enhanced by a wonderful procession of happy naked bodies – the perfect Saturday! A particularly fantastic moment was arriving at Trafalgar Square to witness a convergence of rides from different start points. Seeing the huge number from Hyde Park whizz by was brilliant. You couldn’t ask for a more uplifting experience. We headed through Admiralty Arch, down along the Mall, a place where I’d once marched in big boots in an almost forgotten other life. This was a better way to do it!

The ride ended all too soon, as we formed a wonderful sun-tinged throng of naked bodies around Buckingham Palace. What had started with nervousness and a fear that I wouldn’t be able to do this, had turned into one of the most uplifting and life-affirming experiences that I can ever remember. It was memorable for so many positive reasons. I felt personally responsible for getting my cohort through the ride safely and with big smiles on their faces. All of us felt the positive vibes and warmth of the vast majority of the spectators, and we had shown that body and personal positivity can really help to drive away the doldrums of the last couple of years.


If you are wondering if you could help out, if you can add any value, and if you can marshal, I would honestly and whole-heartedly say do it! Get involved and help to ensure the future of the ride. You will come away with a feeling of positivity that you’ll never forget!

About The 2021 Ride

Almost everything you need to know about the ride

Following the test ride on Saturday, WNBR London can now confirm details for the ride on Saturday 14th August 2021.

Behaviour

WNBR is a peaceful, fun, lawful protest that get its messages across by generating public interest. We intend other road users and spectators to be pleasantly surprised and take notice. We do not behave badly! Please encourage everyone to follow your good example.

Starts and routes

The location and timing details for all 9 start options are confirmed as previously announced.

StartMeeting PointAssembleRide
Clapham JunctionGrant Road, SW11 2NU14:3014:45
Croydon233 Shirley Church Road, CR0 5AB12:4513:00
DeptfordMatchstick Piehouse, SE8 5HD13:4514:00
Hyde ParkNorth Carriage Drive, near Marble Arch14:3014:45
Kew BridgeNorth end of Kew Bridge near W4 3NQ13:1513:30
Regents ParkOuter Circle, near NW1 4NA14:3514:50
Tower HillTrinity Square Gardens, EC3N 4DJ14:3014:45
Victoria ParkNear Bonner Gate/Dogs of Alcibiades E2 9JW13:1513:30
Accessible OptionBelvedere Rd SE1 7GQ15:4516:00

Start locations, rail stations and bike hire are shown on this Google map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Wmk2gVMnNv3dp97eEMuyGjrtyl2G6J1i&ll=51.48466370286718%2C-0.15702699999997094&z=12

If you want advice about choosing a start, please see our blog at: https://wnbrlondon.uk/choosing-your-wnbr-london-start-in-2021/

There will be changes to the route. In particular, the Covent Garden area is blocked with restaurant tables so it is not practical to get 1,000+ bicycles through there.

We have also made several changes to reduce the risks from Covid-19. Most importantly, we are reducing the amount of time you spend stationary and the size of the gatherings whilst waiting to move on. Assembly time should be just 15 minutes. At the rest stops you should take around 10 minutes then move on, following one of the marshals. At the finish you should get dressed and leave straight away.

We will not be waiting for other groups to catch up. If they do meet that’s OK. The point is to keep you moving and reduce bottlenecks. At the finish we want you to dress and leave as soon as possible. Do not create a bottleneck! If you want to take a break at the end, please move into the park and find a quiet spot.

Onward rides

This year the Croydon and Clapham Junction groups have an optional return ride. If you want to take part in a return ride, please try to keep in sight of your ride leader throughout the ride. They should have recognisable flags on their bikes. They will not be hanging around at the finish waiting for everyone to turn up.

There is also some discussion on social media about forming a group to ride to the afterparty venue. WNBR London is not organising that ride so you would need to check on social media to find out what is happening.

Reducing Covid-19 Risks

Participants should do their best to ensure they are not at risk from the virus. Nobody should ride if they have symptoms or have had a recent positive test. We recommend riders take a lateral flow test in the morning of the ride, use sanitiser and keep their masks on, particularly when stationary.

Social contact will be minimised:

  • Time at starts, finishes and rest points will be as short as practical.
  • Start groups will not wait for all other riders to be present before moving on.
  • Riders should disperse as soon as they reach the finish.
  • Participants should socially distance when stationary.
  • No bodypainting at starts.
  • The afterparty has been cancelled.

WNBR London takes place on the public streets of London. Nobody can control the actions or behaviours of the public. Participants should endeavour to avoid crowds and interactions with strangers.

Bike Hire

Our long-standing bike hire partners, London Bicycle Tour Company, have opened bookings for day hire. With the WNBR London deal you should also receive a free seat cover. Please do keep those saddles clean! You will be able to return the bike up to 7pm. Book at: https://www.londonbicycle.com/hire/bikes/traditional/event-wnbr.

The Santander “Boris Bikes” also remain a good option for the Central London starts. You can check locations and availabilities at https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles/find-a-docking-station.

Several other bike hire outlets and street bike hire options are available. Limited supplies of WNBR seat covers will be available for £2 at most of the starts.

Joggers, skaters, boarders and scooters

We disapprove of jogging, roller skating, skate boarding and scooters on the ride for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s not cycling and this is a campaign that promotes cycling. Secondly, because people travelling in those ways are much more visibly exposed to spectators, so are far more likely to generate complaints and police intervention. This could impact on the trust we have with the authorities. It is also still illegal to use an escooter except if it is from an official hire trial. Having said that, we cannot control who uses which type of vehicle on the public streets of London, so you will probably see some of these riding along with us.

Bicycle Maintenance and Service

Please make sure your bike is safe and reliable! This year we have bike service specialists, Fettle, helping out before and during the ride.

Fettle is London’s most progressive and fastest growing bike repair network, offering hassle free servicing and complete peace of mind for riders of all types. With 5 workshops across London plus a Collect & Return service throughout Zones 1 – 3, they’ve got you covered for the big event.

Fettle are offering 10% off services ahead of the day, so you’re not left in the lurch. Use code: NAKEDFETTLE. You can find out more or book a service here: https://www.fettle.cc?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WNBR21

Fettle will also be on-hand at the second rest point, offering free safety checks and emergency repairs – so be sure to pop down and say hello!

Flags, bodypainting and decorations

We love to see flags, bodypainting, fancy dress and decorated bikes! This year, Ken has organised a flag-making session for the Friday evening. The location has changed since it was first planned. It is now at Hackney Wick Underground (next to DOH) – 66 White Post Lane, E9 5EN. It’s easy to get to – right across the road from Hackney Wick Overground Station. You can party and make flags from 14:30 to 23:00. (You may arrive/leave anytime). This meet-up will be in the same spirit as the ride – be Bare As You Dare! More info at https://www.facebook.com/events/984659942363806.

Another casualty of our risk reduction is that there should be no walk-in, organised bodypainting at the starts. Please do make private arrangements and arrive painted if you want to. And maybe there’s just time to paint a quick motto on yourself if you bring the paint.

Download signs from our website to print and attach to your bike. See https://wnbrlondon.uk/wnbr-london/need-to-know/decorations/.

Weather

We ride in almost any weather – hot, cool, sunny, dry, wet, windy! If the sun’s out, bring some suntan cream. The best thing to do if it’s wet is put all your clothes into a waterproof bag along with a small towel. You’ll find your skin is one of the best waterproof coverings you could use. Make sure you have somewhere safe to put your phone and other valuables.

Afterparty

As part of our Covid-19 risk reduction measures, we sadly decided not to organise a big afterparty this year. We can, however, pass on this invitation. The venue, Electrowerkz, has said WNBR people are still welcome there for a few drinks and some food after our ride this year. They are even offering a naked discount and one of the rooms will be available to be as bare as you dare.

Please be advised this is a “Covid pass” venue, so all staff and guests need to show a vaccine card (the app or paper copy) or have done a lateral flow test in the last 24 hours. You can show the test, email or print out.

It’s not a WNBR party – so there’s no ticketing, donations, or organised entertainment etc. Some riders have been discussing riding there together, but WNBR London is not organising that so look out on social media for more info.

The venue is Electrowerkz, 7 Torrens St, London EC1V 1NQ – which is back behind Angel tube station. Here is a link to their FB page. Hope you keep safe and enjoy it: https://www.facebook.com/electrowerkz.

What more could we tell you?

There’s loads of info on our website. Please do have a browse around to familiarise yourself with the ride, its mission and its methods.

After 26 months waiting, we are really looking forward to seeing you there!

WNBR London
https://WNBRLondon.UK

Choosing your WNBR London start in 2021

In 2021, WNBR London has 8 starts plus an accessible option. Here are some comments to help you choose your start. You can find details about the starts from the Activities page.

Croydon is a new start this year. It will be the longest of the routes at 20⅓ miles (32½ Km). Riders will need to keep up a good speed before joining the other groups in Central London. The venue is in a gated, private property with no onlookers.

Kew Bridge slips to second longest at 17¾ miles (28½ Km). The ride crosses the meandering Thames several times before joining in with the Clapham Junction start. The ride starts from the southbound roadside at the north end of the bridge.

Clapham Junction is very convenient for the train connections, after all, it is the biggest junction and has the most trains passing through – over 2,000 on weekdays. It is optionally a circular route, with riders returning to the start point after completing the ride. Our start point is alongside the station (Platform 1 side) in a fairly small public square. The route is 9 miles (14½ Km) without the optional return leg.

Deptford at 10⅓ miles (16⅔ Km) is another fairly long ride. It will meet other groups at Tower Hill and continue as part of a merged group. The start is at Matchstick Piehouse, a theatre, café and bar.

Victoria Park is another new route for 2021. It is around 11½ miles long (18½ Km). The group is led by one of our disabled cyclists and will take a comfortable route before becoming part of the overall peloton.

The other rides are relatively easy rides into the centre.

Tower Hill is arguably the most scenic ride, starting alongside the Tower of London, crossing four bridges, riding alongside the river, passing through Trafalgar Square and Westminster. It’s handy for London Bridge, Waterloo, Charing Cross, Fenchurch St and Liverpool St stations. We use a public park, so there will be onlookers and photographers.  The ride from here is about 7¾ miles (12½ Km).

Hyde Park is the best-known starting point and always attracts large crowds (including photographers), so those riders need to enjoy being in a crowd! Each year we agree details with the Royal Parks (and the Parks’ Police).  Being a large group of riders, it tends to move slowly. It is a short route at just over 7½ miles (12¼ Km).

Regents Park is an easy ride down through the centre of town, and particularly good if you are bringing your bike in via Euston or Kings Cross stations.  The Royal Parks do not give us permission to start from the Park, so we start roadside instead. There has not been a problem with people visiting the park before the start, but they should not get naked, do bodypainting or look like they are lining up for the start! This is the shortest route at just under 7½ miles (12 Km).

We can no longer offer the start at West Norwood as the property owner has moved – and now offers the route from Croydon instead.

All the routes merge for the core part of the route, from Westminster Bridge onwards, to form the 1,000+ rider peloton (which always moves at a safe, comfortable pace and gets stuck a bit). The main route ends near Hyde Park Corner.

Accessible Option

There are usually several participants with restricted ability to ride a bike. This year, for the first time, WNBR London has included an accessible option.  It is a relatively short and easy route, running between two rest points.


Reducing Covid-19 risks

To reduce the risks from Covid-19, the time allowed for assembly, rest breaks and dispersal has been shortened from the usual arrangements. The finishing time is hard to predict, given the possibility of diversions and hold ups.  We aim to complete the ride near Hyde Park Corner around 17:30.

Participants should do their best to ensure they are not at risk from the virus. Nobody should ride if they have symptoms or have had a recent positive test. We recommend riders take a lateral flow test in the morning of the ride, use sanitiser and keep their masks on, particularly when stationary.

Social contact will be minimised:

  • Time at starts, finishes and rest points will be as short as practical.
  • Start groups will not wait for all other riders to be present before moving on.
  • Riders should disperse as soon as they reach the finish.
  • Participants should socially distance when stationary.
  • No bodypainting at starts.
  • The afterparty has been cancelled.

WNBR London takes place on the public streets of London. Nobody can control the actions or behaviours of the public. Participants should endeavour to avoid crowds and interactions with strangers.

#NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide 2021

Well, that’s the second year in a row we couldn’t ride on the usual date, but had a lot of fun spreading the word through our #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide activities. We set a theme of doing something to improve your local environment. The highlights of the week were, again, the photo competition and the two Zoom-Ins.

Photo Competition

You can read about the Photo Competition and see who won in our earlier blog, or you can see all the moderated photos by clicking here!

Zoom-In

At the time we should have been riding we held another Zoom-In, packed with content that reflected WNBR London’s campaign themes.

To host the Zoom-In, we brought back last year’s brilliant team of Dave, Sophie and Natasha. In the opening session, we heard from several other WNBR rides and from supporters.

The State of Cycling in London

We then moved onto a discussion about the state of cycling in London. We posed the question “now, after 17 years of WNBR London, how much has changed and what more is there to do. Our guest speakers were cycling campaigners Paul Gasson and Ruth Mayorcas, along with cycling author and journalist Charlie Allenby.

Body Positivity

The other main discussion during the Zoom-In was about body positivity. It was chaired by academic psychologist Dr Keon West. Charlotte, from the lifeocharlotte blog, was speaking about her campaigning to promote positive attitudes to people with stomas. We wrote previously about her ride with WNBR London. She was joined on the panel by two prominent figures in body positivity – Rosy Pendlebaby and Ruby Rare, who are also co-founders of the Body Love Sketch Club.

Live Body Painting

During the World Naked Bike Ride London 2021 Zoom-In, we ran live body painting with artists Peter and Raid painting WNBR volunteers Phoebe and Ken. Cy was also there to handle everything else while the others got mucky with paint.

Peter and Raid painting WNBR London volunteers Phoebe and Ken

This video captures the visits to the studio. It includes Sophie’s interviews with Ken and Phoebe. Ken talked about his interests in cycling provision for disabled cyclists and WNBR London’s accessible ride option. Phoebe talked about her experiences and getting more younger adults involved in the WNBR campaign.

At the end of the session, Peter presented the finished painting and described the themes behind the designs.

Zoom Afterparty

In the evening we again ran a Zoom afterparty. Just like last year we planned and prepared absolutely nothing. It was a great, random mixture of videos, photos, anecdotes, music, dancing, etc.

Let’s hope we can ride later in the year and have a real afterparty to celebrate!

Photo Competition 2021

The #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide Photo Competition winner was chosen by this year’s judge, Ken. Some excellent old photos didn’t meet the criteria, and we also didn’t consider ones submitted by the organisers.

The winner was Gav’s Gif of indoor static bike riding, which is a popular #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide activity.  It’s the perpetual motion that caught the eye.  Gav wins a WNBR London Goody Bag with goodies!

Gav’s Gif – Naked Indoor Static Bike Ride

In the popular vote, it was very close.  Nat’s sunbathing on scaffolding just beat Lucy on her bike.

You can see the moderated photos by clicking here!

Life o Charlotte

Charlotte
Charlotte at World Naked Bike Ride, London 2019

Charlotte was in her 20s when she found out that it was emergency surgery or death. Ulcerative colitis nearly took her life and meant she needed to have a stoma, something she had never seen or heard of.

Since then Charlotte has been positive about her condition and actively promotes body acceptance for people with a stoma. She blogs in “Life o Charlotte” lifeocharlotte.com  and posts on social media at facebook.com/lifeocharlotte, twitter.com/LifeoCharlotte and instagram.com/lifeocharlotte.

In 2019, Charlotte joined us on the World Naked Bike Ride in London. Here is her blog about the ride.

Life o Charlotte

Blog by Charlotte, shared from https://lifeocharlotte.com/2019/06/14/wnbrl/


So I’ve done this thing…and in the worlds of one of mums favourite sayings;

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

This has sort of become quite a big thing for me, pushing myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do, or things that scare me a bit, or just new things.

Saturday the 8th of June, 2019, the first time I took part in the World Naked Bike Ride in London. I can’t really even believe it myself that I did it. My sister told me about it on new years eve, and how she was going to do it, and I remember thinking “right, I can do this too, I don’t know how, but I will and I have 5 months to prepare myself!” Throughout these months I’ve thought about it a bit, and spoken about it a bit but then forgotten again. Then suddenly it was time, it was two weeks away and I couldn’t back out now, no matter how nervous or scared I was. As you know (well those of you who have read my other posts) I find it so nerv wrecking getting undressed for the first time, whether it be in front of a new partner, or on a new beach that I haven’t been to before. Oddly enough tho, if I am going to get undressed for a doctor, or just to show someone my scars and how things work, then I am not nervous in the slightest, I can stand there talking and showing all sorts, but in any other situation I’m a total mess inside! Usually if I’m on a new beach I use my sunglasses as protection, once they are on its like there is no-one else on the beach and I can walk out into the sea and then I’m good… well after a good 10 mins of pep while trying to hide as flat as I can haha. So, yeah, maybe you can see why I would be nervous about this too… even more so because I decided to do it without the security of my trusted sunglasses. This time I was just going to jump all in!

Unfortunately my sister was too ill with a fever and a bad cold, and wasn’t about to join me, which didn’t help the nervs in the slightest, however I decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me! Luckily I already knew one person who we were going to be doing the ride with, but I also got to meet lots of new and absolutely lovely people!

The world naked bike ride is an organisation with multiple objectives, such as a protest against car culture, obtaining rights for cyclists, demonstrating the vulnerability of cyclists, demonstrating the global dependency of oil as well as body positivity, or whatever you as an individual would like. Of course as soon as I head about it I knew what I would be doing. Biking is important for me, and after having lived in Sweden for 5 years, and biking everywhere, but most of all feeling safe biking everywhere, as they are much more keen on keeping cyclists safer and off the car roads on bike paths instead, I feel that the UK really needs to up their game because I really don’t feel all that mega safe biking here (but I still do it when I can). This bike ride however was so much more to me. It was a chance to challenge myself, but also to raise awareness. To raise awareness for ostomies, and most of all, that young people get them too. As some of you know, I knew nothing about ostomies before I got mine, I hadn’t seen one, or heard of one before, and decided when I got mine that I was going to do what I could to try to spread awareness and make sure more people knew about it, whether they were getting one themselves or not. So Stevie the stoma got a cute little face, my sister helped write slogans on me… with permanent marker, which luckily wasn’t as permanent as I first feared, and decorated a load of bags that I no longer can use, which I then decorated my bike with. If I was gonna be doing this I was gonna be going all in, and I did!

As you’ll see in the pictures (I hope you can see) I wrote on my body;
– Keep Calm it’s only a stoma
– Life takes guts
– No colon still rollin’
– IBD Warrior
– Love yourself
– Self love
– Body positivity

And the bags I decorated for my bike read;
– End the stigma
– Ostomies save lives
– We are all beautiful
– End the taboo

And of course there were plenty of little love hearts around too! Hey, don’t they say ‘go big or go home’ or something like that, and that was my plan! I was not going to go home!

I was so nervous all morning, my stomach was like a whirlwind of all sorts, and I just tried to keep telling myself ‘it will be fine’, although at that moment in time I wasn’t sure if it would be haha! When we got to Regents park, where we were gonna start the ride, we got there just in time, and basically just had time to strip off before setting off. I think I’m quite happy we were cutting it fine time wise, because it left me with little time to think of what I was actually doing. Everyone else there was already naked, and about to set off, so with some fast action my clothes came off, got shoved into my bag and next thing I knew I was biking naked (I kept my knickers on) in a crowd, surrounded by thousands of other naked people, and all my fears were gone. I also think my fear transferred from ‘holy shit I’m naked’ to ‘oh good god, I’m on a bike with handbreaks, how on earth does this work!? I don’t want to crash’ (yeah, I’ve grown up with foot break bikes, where you peddle back to break, so handbreaks scare me quite a bit). It’s crazy how liberating it can be, just being outside in public, naked, with a load of other naked people haha. Some people were in all their underwear, some in a tshirt, some in trousers, others with plenty of body art, masks and costumes, others just as they were. And best of all, everyone was so happy! As we were biking round London, we were, of course, clogging up the traffic on the roads (yeah, stop driving everywhere people *winkwink* haha) and people were gathering along the paths cheering us on, waving and clapping, taking pictures, laughing and just looked like they were enjoying it as much as we were, who were taking part. I think we biked around London for about 2 hours, but time just flew by, and it felt like nothing. Of course we weren’t going very fast, but I felt like I could have carried on all day. I didn’t need my sunglasses, I didn’t need my clothes. I was just me! I am so proud of myself for doing this, for myself but also for other people. I had several people come up to me and thanking me for showing my bag, and raising awareness, showing them something they hadn’t seen before. I also had people wanting to take pictures of me and them to send to their friends who also had ostomies to try and get them to take part next year, or to just show them that there was someone else with their bag out doing this. I felt like a celebrity, and I felt proud of my body. I also met a man, who had surgery scars on his belly, who was so sweet and just said “neither of us should really be here should we, I have my scars out proud too”. I was really moved by him, and of course we got a picture together too, he was so sweet. The best thing about the bike ride is that it didn’t feel pervy or wrong or horrible at all, everyone was there for the same or similar reasons and it was no big deal that we were all naked together, we were just all there together and it was an amazing feeling! I have been living off this buzz every since, and I cannot wait until next year when I can do it again! It is one of the most empowering things I have done in ages and I would really recommend it to everyone because it truly was an amazing feeling that I can’t even try to begin to put into words!

Oh, I also have to share this… there was a professional photographer on the spot too, who took pictures of me, and everyone else, but I never caught his name or anything so I sort of thought, ‘ah what a shame, I guess I won’t be seeing those pictures’ and then the other day, I was looking on facebook and in one of the crohns and colitis groups I was in, someone posted this;

The Naked bike ride in London.
My friend is a photographer down there and snapped a lady (naked) with a stoma and had ‘Keep calm it’s only a stoma’ penned on her body.
Is that lady in this group?
If so well done very brave of you. Ps can you pass on your details as he has some photos you may be interested in.

I got so excited! That was me he was talking about! So I got in touch, and got some of the photos, but wow, that feeling was just amazing as well!

So many fantastic feelings to come out from this experience, like I said, I don’t even know how to start explaining how it feels… the closest I can get is sort of… free, bubbling, joy, strength and power… I think, although I’m not sure that really does it justice either… hmm.. hey, I know, come with next year and you can experience it yourself!

Gran rides again – and again!

Gran rides again
Gran rides again at WNBR London 2006

In admiration of Marguerite Dustman, 1922-2019

affectionately known to all as “Gran”


In the previous post we read how 83-year-old Gran’s first World Naked Bike Ride was our London ride in 2005. But it was cold and she reluctantly had to keep her raincoat on.

The old lady in her raincoat
The old lady in her raincoat

The next year she was keen to try again – and this time the weather was good. It was a glorious day and she cycled the whole route naked, aged 84. Her son-in-law, Paul Burkimsher, was again called upon to accompany her.

Gran on WNBR London 2006
Gran riding WNBR London 2006
Gran on WNBR London 2006
Gran on WNBR London 2006
Gran and son-in-law Paul
Gran and son-in-law Paul

And Gran Rides Again in York and London

That was by no means the end of Gran’s World Naked Bike Rides.

When Tony Minou from Leeds announced a meeting to organise the very first WNBR York ride, Gran was the only person to turn up to that meeting (apart from Tony). They got on really well.

In 2009 she was back on the bike and featured in the York Press.

Sadly Gran had to give up cycling by the age of 90 in 2012, but that didn’t keep her away. She rode in London 2013 in a rickshaw.

Gran riding by rickshaw in London 2013.
Gran riding by rickshaw in WNBR London 2013.

Gran was back in the York Press with a photo from 2014, this time being driven by son-in-law, Paul.

At the age of 92 Gran needs to be driven by son-in-law Paul

Gran’s story goes to the heart of what the World Naked Bike Ride is about. Cycling and WNBR should be for everyone. And we should all care passionately about its mission to make the planet great again by promoting a sustainable environment and healthy lifestyles.

Be like Gran

The little old lady in her raincoat
The little old lady in her raincoat

In admiration of Marguerite Dustman, 1922-2019

affectionately known to all as “Gran”


83-year-old Gran’s first World Naked Bike Ride was our London ride in 2005. If you saw the documentary film, Jon Snow calls her the “little old lady in her raincoat”.

She was the mother-in-law of Paul Burkimsher who wrote this article about their experiences in 2005.

Did she ever take off that raincoat in later years?  See the next instalment to find out!


Have you ever travelled with a naked bicycle on a train? Have you ever travelled with a naked bicycle on a plane? First thing to notice is that naked bikes are not allowed. Not on EasyJet anyway. Their website helpfully explains that you must remove the pedals, turn the handlebars 90 degrees, deflate the tyres and put it all in a big box. Big boxes supplied on demand (at least at Geneva airport). Having checked in 2 hours before departure, I was ready. The airport guys thoughtfully loaned me spanners (efficient, these Swiss), lots of sticky tape and even a felt marker for labelling the box. Somewhere over the English Channel I remembered about letting the tyres down. Oops. I hoped they hadn’t (or wouldn’t, even now) burst. All I could actually do was wonder what would happen at Liverpool. No problem, round came my bike, in its box, on the luggage conveyor.

Why was I doing all this I asked myself? It’s the mother-in-law you see. She wanted to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) and as she’s 83, I felt duty bound to come along and look after her. Gran (as we call her) is very sprightly. A real “Miss Hubbard”. Rides her bike every day, but usually through the streets of York, not quite the same as through busy central London. Not usually in the nude either. She’s always been a naturist at heart, but only a “practising” naturist since she was widowed some 10 years ago. Gran has an aversion to cars, but loves London. Reminds her of her nursing days as a young twenty-something in the war. Bandaging up injured (but not diseased) red-blooded soldiers I think. So the WNBR was too much for her to resist. Cycling – round London – in Eve’s attire.

I’d read all about WNBR on the web. Admired Richard Collins’ pluck from a distance, but was looking forward to meeting him in the flesh, so to speak. Jesse, the WNBR UK coordinator would be there and various other dedicated people who were just names to me, but who had collectively put in an awful lot of hard work, advertising, negotiating with the Police etc. The weather forecast had varied all week, from “cloudy and 24” to “sunny and 18 with a breeze”. I was not sure which I preferred. Wind isn’t generally good news for naturists. At least the weather people were consistent that it wasn’t going to rain. And so it was that I travelled to London with Gran. We emerged at King’s Cross and while waiting to cross over the busy main road outside, a cyclist who looked the spitting image of Richard Collins (as according to his photo on the web) drew up on his bicycle. I called out his name and sure enough, he came over. It was Richard. A lovely welcome to a huge city in a strange country.

We didn’t have time to join in the picnic and sunbathe in Hyde Park – though the sun was conspicuously absent anyway. We went directly to Wellington Arch where people were already disrobing ready for the ride. I have heard estimates of numbers ranging from “over 100” to “250”, but certainly there were the best part of 200 cyclists there. Some men wore shorts, some of the girls wore bikinis, some just bikini briefs, most seemed to wear nothing at all. The time had come to flip into my preferred attire. Grey sky or not, I wasn’t coming all this way to chicken out now. Multiple layers of arctic clothing came off and I tried to get them into my daysack. Gran decided that it was too cold for her to strip. She was as disappointed as anybody about that, but she’s as thin as a rake and has no protective padding whatsoever, so I believe she made the right decision. I got my sign out and attached it to the carrier on my bike. It read “God made my Designer Outfit”. This raised some grins from the crowd along the streets during the afternoon. As an active Christian, I believe that we were created and that our bodies are the pinnacle of creation. As such they should be celebrated, not hidden away with guilty feelings of shame. I did wear something though – a Jester’s hat. As much so that Gran could spot me in the crowd of naked bodies, should we ever get separated. I could spot her without trouble. She was the only 83 year old riding fully dressed!

It was hard trying to squeeze all my clothes into that small backpack. Would the zip ever fasten? Better be quick though, they’re lining up to set off!! “Come on Gran! We’d better go to the front, so that if we drop back we won’t get left behind.” Gran was still sorry about wearing clothes but was definitely going to cycle round with us, when suddenly we were off, through Wellington Arch and out onto the road. Some of the organisers were holding back the traffic and we whizzed along. Everything else just seemed like a blur, with us trying to keep up. Generally we didn’t cycle too fast, but I was very glad of the occasional stops to let everyone catch up. I thought we would be having photo sessions at each of the landmarks, but no, we just pressed on. Trying to take photos whilst you are cycling is difficult, so I have a limited selection. Really one has to participate or take photographs, but not try and do both.

Trafalgar Square was very busy. The riders ahead had carved a way through the crowd and we just cycled steadily right round. Lots of smiles, cheers and even more cameras and camera phones pointing in our direction. One middle aged lady in the crowd yelled out at the top of her voice “Why not?” and gave us a big wave. Down to the river. There was a chilly wind blowing over the bridge. We cycled around close to the London Eye then back over a different bridge. One man was cycling with his dog in the pannier on the back of his bike. Doggy decided he liked all the fun and the crowds and jumped off the bike to run ahead. Poor man trying to keep up! The dog was in its element though and I didn’t see it again until 15 minutes later when it was in the arms of another cyclist, a lady this time, peddling bravely along. Dog and man were reunited later.

Oxford Street was teeming with people. We all slowed down a little. One of the young women decided she was going to walk down Oxford Street. I don’t know what she did with her bike – I guess her boyfriend/husband looked after it. She just walked steadily and carefully down Oxford Street without a stitch on. Right there in the middle of a busy Saturday afternoon in all the throngs of people. I suspected that she’d been dreaming about this moment for a long time. Her dream was coming true. Good for her. She carried herself very well. In fact, she looked positively regal. I then realised that Gran wasn’t immediately behind me any more, so I stopped and lets scores more cyclists pass me. Then they thinned out and the last one came by. At least I deduced he was the last one because the crowds on either side of the street suddenly swarmed back into the road, gazing up Oxford Street after the riders. What was I to do? Where was Gran? I would start to feel uncomfortable if I waited around, nude, in the middle of Oxford Street on my own. Should I dress and go back to look for her? Or hope that she could make her own way back to Hyde Park (she was dressed after all)? In the end I decided I’d better catch up before the crowds in front swarmed over the road too, thereby cutting me off from my companions. I cycled madly to catch up and was relieved to catch up with Gran pedalling steadily on. I don’t know how she’d got past me.

We all stopped at the U.S. Embassy whilst Jesse handed in a letter to Bush. The embassy was guarded by armed police standing atop a concrete crash barrier. One officer was videoing us all as we went past. I bet the video gave his mates a laugh in the pub later on. One of our girls jumped up on the barrier sans bike, in fact, sans anything, and posed for him. That would have been a beautiful photo, one I missed taking. Still, I have a wonderful mental image. Her feminine beauty, nudity and purity contrasting with his masculine policeman’s expression, bullet proof padded clothes and a world-weariness, all together in a cameo that speaks volumes. By the time we got to Park Lane I suddenly realised that it was nearly over. Jesse was holding up the traffic and we had a wide empty boulevard to cycle down. I glanced at my watch. We had been going for an hour and 25 minutes. It seemed more like just half an hour.

Back at the Arch we were triumphant but tired. And cold. Even I got dressed quickly, something I am not prone to do. Then the sun came out, but I had been cool enough not to instantly want to fling my clothes off again. Tony stayed nude for a while, but I noticed his teeth chattering. There was one couple being interviewed and filmed by some camera crew or other and they managed to look warm. Kat, who we’d been talking to earlier, found Gran and gave her a big hug. Kat was a really genuine, friendly girl with a beautiful smile and kind eyes. The sort of girl that all men who haven’t already got a mother-in-law would hope to meet. Richard went off to buy some beer and we drifted over to Hyde Park to drink it. Gran preferred a cup of tea in the café and the others soon realised the benefit of the heated indoors (this was England in June!!). We had a chat there, about 5 of us, before finally going our separate ways. Will we go again next year? We will have to see if Gran is still up to it at 84, but if she is, then I doubt we’ll be able to stop her. And given even a tiny bit of sunshine, I’m sure she’ll do it “properly” next time.

by Paul Burkimsher, 2005

#NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide Photo Competition Results

WNBR London ran a programme of #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide activities on Saturday 13th June 2020 in place of the postponed 17th annual ride. We wanted to keep attention on our campaign themes – and have a jolly good time doing it!

For the #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide Photo Competition, people were asked to share pictures of what they were doing in place of riding with WNBR. You can see all the accepted entries in the #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide Photo Gallery.

WNBR London Goody Bag

The winners received a WNBR London Goody Bag with seat cover, mug and badge.


Judge Richard declared four winners. These were based on the judges’ personal opinions and not influenced by the public vote.

Lucy

Lucy illustrated how she particpated in our naked bike ride without leaving home. She had support from her mum and sister who voted for her. Due to a temporay glitch the system did not confirm the votes, so her sister kept clicking – over 200 times.

The judges said “Lucy is approximating to the bike ride, and the lighting is good.” The public seems to agree – the photo has had hundreds of likes on Twitter.

Lucy
Ride on the balcony

Howard Smith

Howard is a keen WNBR supporter from Wales – illustrating how the virtual WNBR London activities had no geographic boundaries. His entry shows how our supporters chose a wide range of alternative activities. The judges’ verdict was “it’s the composition and every day nature of the activity that appeals”.

Howard is cleaning windows
Howard Smith Cleaning Windows

Esther Bunting and Steve Ritter

Esther and Steve did a two-person, isolation World Naked Bike Ride, starting alongside the A13 and exploring the marshy land alongside the Thames.

They contributed video, photos and a detailed blog: https://steveritterlife.com/2020/06/10/bmnbr2020/.

The judges said it was “more ambitious than anything anyone else did, it’s very specifically Not the WNBR, and combines a textual explanation with a very attractive bike ride”

WNBR Bowers Marsh 2020
WNBR Bowers Marsh 2020

#NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide, Saturday 13th June 2020

When the World Naked Bike Ride in London (WNBR London), was called off because of lockdown and social distancing advice, the organisers felt that the campaign needed to take on a new form. A programme of #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide activities was developed and supporters took up the challenge.

The 2020 WNBR London ride had been planned for Saturday 13th June, so the alternative activities were planned for the same day. The focal point of the day was the Zoom-In, timed to run at the same time riders had originally been expecting to be out on the streets of London. 331 people signed up to attend the online gathering, which featured discussion and debate from eminent special guests as well as the opportunity for supporters to show what they had been doing in place of the ride.

World Naked Trampolining

Later in the day a Zoom-In afterparty celebrated the ride’s achievements over the years. Organisers from other rides around the world joined WNBR UK people to reminisce, chat about the campaign, and enjoy good company. Several people told tales of the origin of the ride back in 2004. Visitors from USA, South Africa and Mexico talked about their rides, including Portland Oregon where the ride has around 10,000 cyclists.

Ride on the balcony
Lucy’s ride on the balcony

During the day, supporters had been asked to do something safe, relevant and whacky instead of the mass ride. WNBR London regularly has over 1,000 riders, and a further concern was the large crowds of spectators that usually line the streets. Many participants shared photos or videos on the WNBR London website (https://WNBRLondon.UK) and on social media with the hashtags #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide or #notwnbr.

The main Zoom-In featured some excellent guest speakers in discussion with the WNBR panellists, as well as contributions from supporters, live bodypainting and a look at some favourite WNBR videos.

Live bodypainting

From British Naturism (BN), Mark Walsh (Events Manager) and Pam Fraser (Youth Ambassador) talked about the growth in popularity and activities of BN. They discussed the legality of nakedness including BN’s campaigning, which was instrumental in shaping the 2003 laws that establish it is not a crime to be naked.

Dr Victoria Bateman from Cambridge University and Dr Keon West from Goldsmiths were joined by naked video maker Lucy Muse in a segment that delved deeply into issues such as the social benefits of nudity, body confidence, feminism, women’s rights over their own bodies, male attitudes to women, diverse cultural responses to the human body, and, of course, the merits of the World Naked Bike Ride.

Ben and Lucy talking with Mike, Dave and Sophie from WNBR, Dr Victoria Bateman and Dr Keon West

In the final segment, several activists from the original WNBR campaign in 2004 discussed the origins of the ride, with its themes of ecology and wellbeing, manifested in campaigns against oil dependency and car culture, alongside the promotion of safe cycling, healthy lifestyles and good behaviours.

Cheers!

Participants were delighted with the day’s activities and concluded – “we should do this more often”. Organiser, Cy Wol, said “a great learning point from lockdown is that we could achieve so much more, using far fewer natural resource, reducing pollution, cutting risks, and including a broader community if we work online instead of meeting face-to-face. WNBR London’s planning meetings will stay online – it’s the new normal”.

WNBR London confirmed that no decision has yet been made about rescheduling the ride for later in 2020. The situation is reviewed at every meeting, based upon current evidence and advice. The key issue is whether a ride would be wise – not whether it would be permitted. The planned date for 2021 is Saturday 12th June.

Esther and Steve’s #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide

Esther and Steve went on an epic #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide, which Steve documented in his blog. You can see the full story with video and photos at https://steveritterlife.com/2020/06/10/bmnbr2020/.

Esther and Steve’s #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide

Videos played in full or in part during the Zoom-Ins

VideoLinkDuration
WNBR London Vimeo Channelhttps://vimeo.com/wnbrlondon
WNBR London2019 flypast https://vimeo.com/34204903806:20
WNBR London 2014 highlights https://vimeo.com/42620804604:10
30 second WNBR London trailerhttps://vimeo.com/28871195200:30
WNBR London 2005 by Keith Robersonhttps://vimeo.com/42592238005:07
High Altitude WNBR Documentary https://vimeo.com/14107674230:50
Brexit Leaves Britain Naked by Victoria Batemanhttps://vimeo.com/30110002802:13
Brexit: The Naked Truth by Dr Victoria Batemanhttps://vimeo.com/31426547131:40
BN’s Pam Fraser on ITV’s This Morninghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjMGvn8Nscs11:39
WNBR London 2019 highlightshttps://vimeo.com/39778581505:00
Lucy Muse’s WNBR London Documentary (2018)https://vimeo.com/27469422019:30
Lucy Muse Vimeo Channelhttps://vimeo.com/thomasandmuse
vivrenu-tv Documentary (2017)https://vimeo.com/27782168807:54

Our programme of free activities on 13th June 2020

All day, every day: WNBR London Quiz – an online quiz about WNBR London and its campaign themes

10:00 to 17:30: Exercise and surprise – safe cycling and other forms of activity people can do instead of being on the ride, either at home or safely in isolation outside. Participants are encouraged to Zoom-In or share photos – go on, surprise!

10:00 to 22:00: #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide photo submission & prize competition – where people share photos of what they’ve been doing in place of riding with WNBR

15:00 to 17:30: Zoom-In #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide – connecting supporters and special guests for chats about WNBR with a show/tell what they’ve been doing (you need to pre-register for the Zoom-Ins)

16:00 and 17:00: WNBR London Watchathons – during the Zoom-In, supporters will be encouraged to watch and discuss excellent films of WNBR London

19:00 to 21:00: #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide Afterparty – an online afterparty session just for fun! (you need to pre-register for the Zoom-Ins)

All activities will be clothing optional and we’d love to see some body painting, fancy dress, bike decorations and flags – just like the real thing.

So, what are you going to be doing for #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide on 13th June 2020?

Make sure it’s safe and follow social distancing advice. If you are on your own in public, don’t take the risk of being naked. Although it’s legal you might encounter problems.

Please send in your photos and/or join us on the Zoom-In!

Some guidance about #NotTheWorldNakedBikeRide activities:

Activities are clothing optional, as bare as you dare. We will not tolerate bad behaviour – you will be blocked for life! That means no overtly sexual or obscene language, behaviour or imagery. Although we will try to prevent photography, just like the real ride, you can bet someone will be watching and maybe trying to get a photo – so don’t do anything you might regret later.