Last night was the Portland World Naked Bike Ride and though I've never thought of doing it before, I was intrigued by the invitation from the Portland Art Museum to allow the naked riders into the museum exhibit before the ride for $1/article of clothing. I thought it would be fun to hang out in the museum nude, with the nudes. I talked to Petra about it (she has ridden it a few times) and Howard was sort of interested. Then we got to thinking about using the tandem so we took it for a spin to see if we remembered how to use it, and then I padded up the seats with a lot of zebra fleece and it was pretty comfy. I didn't know if I'd ride entirely naked, but once we were downtown (we took the bike on the Max, to save our strength and our butts) and got to the park blocks with all the naked people, it felt pretty okay to take it all off. It was a warm night and we we in good company so once we were in the museum courtyard, we took off everything and checked our pannier at the museum door. It was very cool and sort of surreal to be in the museum naked. The oddest part was actually going to the bathroom and having nothing to pull down or pull up, then after washing my hands, and finding no paper towels, going to wipe my hands on my... not pants, and finally walking out of the ladies room nude to find men walking out of the men's room nude and it suddenly felt like one of those dreams, but not in a bad way at all.
The most uncomfortable part was being surrounded by the fully clothed gawkers taking photos of the 'crazy nekkid people', particularly the creepers who obviously saw the event as something quasi-sexual, when in fact the entire ride is about the vulnerability of cyclists and how fragile we are. There were people of every size, shape, age and color, and we were all beautiful. I felt much safer both with the naked people than with the clothed people at that point, and in a giant naked bike gang than surrounded by automobiles. I appreciated the spectators who at least took off their shirts in solidarity with us.
It was a fun ride with likely 10,000 riders. We left the south park blocks, heading up Jefferson to 12th, then up 12th to Burnside, across the Burnside bridge. There were folks all along the route cheering and waving and high-fiving us. It was a bit brisk in the evening air once the sun was gone and I had on my zebra sweater as a cape to match my zebra helmet/hat. Howard was freezing as he was in front blocking me from the wind. The zebra fleece seat covers worked really well and were uber comfortable. When we turned off Burnside onto NE 9th something happened with our handle-bars and we nearly crashed as they loosened and turned at a 45 degree angle. We pulled over and yelled at the passing crown "WRENCH! HEX WRENCH! WHO HAS A HEX WRENCH?" Soon, some naked guy pulled over and whipped out his tool kit and tightened up or hex on the handlebars. Then he offered to follow behind us to make sure we were okay and we were off again. Some naked teenager crashed in front of us but was up and riding again before anyone was injured. We rode up towards Lloyd Center past Franz bakery, under the 16th Ave underpass. Our hex-wrench guy caught up with us and asked us how we were doing (nice guy!). Then we rode Broadway to 33rd. We turned right on 33rd towards Sandy, but we were too cold to consider going back down Sandy, downtown and then ride home again, so we cut out of the crowd, put on more clothes and rode up 33rd home.
For our first ride of the year - and on the tandem - we did really well, even though we threw the chain as we tried to get up our hill. We got it back on track in order to make it home. Definitely need a tune up though. Anyway, that was fun. I can see doing it again even! W00t!