Warning: Contains nudity
As a newbie to the scene this year, I’m here to answer all the questions you have… Yep, including that one.
It's raw, it’s real it's… cycling naked through the busy city centre.
Riding a bike naked! In PUBLIC! Is that even legal?
Believe it or not, being naked in public in the UK is legal. It only becomes illegal when you intend someone to be alarmed by your exposure, or doing something indecent. So, please don’t wank in the park… that will get you arrested.
Why do seemingly normal people, globally, ride naked on their bikes together through city centres?
There are a few reasons people do this. The main one being to raise awareness about the amount of accidents where cyclists get knocked off their bikes. Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show 140 cyclists were killed in Britain in 2020, up from 100 in 2019!
Others want to promote cycling instead of driving in a hope for a greener city.
And lastly, the reason I attended, for body positivity. Not to say that I do not fully support the first two reasons, but for me it was about self-love. Putting myself out there and feeling vulnerable. Practicing what I preach, to the extreme!
So here’s how the Cardiff Naked Bike Ride went for me:
I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not. I kind of wanted to… but I wanted to know if I was just being crazy and it was really a terrible idea, so I posted on social media about 5 hours before the event to ask my followers. To my surprise, everyone that voted said I should do it! So I did.
Before the ride I didn’t eat lunch, how could I? My stomach was in knots. I was a bag of nerves. Why was I even doing this to myself? I kept an eye on the Cardiff WNBR (world naked bike ride) event page and noticed a few people saying they couldn’t make it, so I decided to comment saying I would. I know that when people start saying they aren’t attending an event that other people follow suit and don’t go. Wanting to help I said I would be going and I mentioned that this was my first ride.
On the way to the event, I stopped to ask some guys working as security at another event, “Do you know where the bike ride meets”. They blushed a little and smirked before telling me… they knew what I was up to!
I found the entrance with a big World Naked Bike ride banner above. (see pic above)
As I slowly rolled up to the sign-in table I had the realisation that, they were naked! Now come on Laura, of course they're naked! You are at a naked event! I try to keep my eyes fixed on theirs as I sign in, my heart pounding. At this point I don’t plan to get naked. A couple go in at the same time as me. They prop their bikes up against a wall and I follow suit. As a couple, they have each other but all I have is, well… just me, and my bike. I brought my new bell with me… a good excuse to speak to people. “Can someone help me put my bell on”, I ask at the gazebo.
A couple of people volunteer and I go back to my bike to wait. I feel awkward. I awkwardly sit next to one of the only fully clothed guys there. He doesn’t speak to me, nor I to him. I look around. I sit and I watch. I notice I’m staring at people, naked people. Shit, Laura, stop it! I’m just not used to seeing naked bodies! Everyone is just casually wandering around the lawn naked!
Dee from the gazebo comes to talk with me, she knows my name because someone told her it was my first ride and to look out for the blue bike (from my post I expect). She explains how she is leading the ride. And later mentions she was the first ever woman to ride in the Cardiff WNBR! What an inspiration!
I hear someone shouting that there is only 15 minutes left to get painted, which is something I want to do, so I force myself to go over there. A group of people sat painting each other. I opted for a stencil and a kind lady applied it to my back. This meant I had to strip off!!! The top came off first, followed by my jeans. Now I’m standing in just my black cotton thong. In the middle of a field, surrounded by crazy naked people. I’m also here, so by default, also crazy! I must add that it’s not mandatory to be completely naked to join the ride. The theme is bare as you dare and fancy dress is also appropriate.
One woman went the fancy dress option, wearing nothing but fairy wings. She looked incredible. She was the one who stencilled “now you see me” on my back (show pic of this). After this, I grabbed a brush and attempted to paint myself which was harder than anticipated, as I was shaking! As I got the hang of it, I painted some doddle artwork down my legs, then attempted to do my face which went horribly wrong. I wiped it off and it just smeared red paint all across my face. Fuck! I looked up from where I was kneeling on the ground at the guy who was covered head to toe in gorgeous blue swirls. I just watched him paint his own face, so I asked if he would do mine. He said yes! Thank goodness.
People kept asking if they could take photos of me, I agreed. It seemed like the normal thing to do, well everyone else was acting like it was normal anyway. But it didn’t feel normal, not one little bit! But sure… go ahead, take them. It’s just me with my tits out, getting my face painted by a painted guy in his boxers. Just a normal Sunday. Little did I know one of those photographers was from Wales Online and my friends would soon be sending me naked photos of myself from their article!
The group leaders called to pack up the paint. I wasn’t ready. I was still feeling too… naked! I reluctantly made my way back to my bike that was propped up against the wall. I stuffed my clothes into my basket. A tanned, naked man came over and introduced himself. He was tanned ALL over, so I could tell he was no novice at this naked thing. I don’t know if he had planned to, but he ended up looking after me for the duration of the ride.
As the first cyclists took off I was still standing clumsily holding my bike, rummaging for my water, feeling like I needed to pee from nervousness. As I looked around at all the naked bodies, I decided I would look more weird leaving my pants on, so I slipped them off and the people standing near me cheered me on.
My thoughts were probably the same as yours… what is it going to be like putting my you know what on that bike seat! It wasn’t the most comfortable I have to admit, but it wasn’t as weird as I’d anticipated. I’ll definitely take something to cover my seat next time. It felt a little sweaty by the time we were half way. And I'm sure most people were feeling the same… sweaty bums sliding all over the place. Are you put off yet?
It wasn’t all that bad honestly.
As we set off people were cheering and waving, and taking photos. Still shaking, I joined in the bell ringing and waving. My new friend stayed with me chatting as we cycled. I couldn’t stop saying how nice the breeze was. It was surreal. I love cycling around Cardiff but usually do it solo. It was nice to have company to chat along the way, even if we were all naked.
Bums, bums everywhere!
At this point I was still very much aware that I was naked and I’m not sure that feeling ever wore off. I did however get used to the fact that everyone else was naked. My mind accepted this was now normal behaviour. One thing I loved about the non-sexual nudity is not one person commented on my body, no one commented on my looks, weight, or said I was beautiful; nothing! And it was bloody brilliant!!!! Looks didn’t matter, size didn’t matter; nothing mattered. There was no superficial bull crap. The only compliment I received was about how great my face paint was, oh and how I was brave attending alone. We were all just people, wobbly, imperfect, naked people, cycling through the city together.
I got chatting to people along the way, a young lad on the ride. Just 22 and also came alone! And a couple who hired a two person trike thing who came equipped with their own camera gear to create a YouTube documentary of the whole thing that I featured in.
As we cycled through the city centre many people lined the streets. Most were excited to see us. Lots of giggles, cheering and waves. I was overwhelmed by the support we received. There were a couple of incidents, one where a group of late teen boys were shouting free Willy (aimed at the men with their… you know, freed willys out) and other people telling us to put clothes on. But over all people were shouting positive things like good on you and clapping.
Many people stopped to take photos and record us. My favourite reaction was a young boy who was excited to see us, jumping and waving, then he suddenly froze as he realised that we were all naked. His mum was laughing and eventually he was too. Then he started waving again. I find it funny how nudity is so natural yet in the UK, it’s something we shy away from and get embarrassed about.
As the Cardiff WNBR came to an end I felt ready to not be cycling anymore, I was starving from skipping lunch, but, as I was told I would feel, I didn’t want to get dressed again. I was hot after two hours of riding around and I was now used to being naked. My jeans felt tight, restrictive and damn right uncomfortable as I pulled them on again.
I was sad to leave my new naked friends. I cycled home still on a high from what I had just experienced, paint still on my body and a smile on my face. I know I’ll be back next year and I look forward to being reunited with the awesome people I met!
If after reading this, you feel up for a challenge, then why not join us next year. You can join the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/194410707262234 Sign up to the 2022 event here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/295127693877 or drop me a message and we can get a little group together. I would love to see you there! Even if you come along in your clothes.