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Slow start, soaring payoff: first take on WNBR 2013

Posted by on June 9th, 2013 at 1:05 am

It’s safe to say Portland’s never seen a World Naked Bike Ride quite like this.

The ride started in the South Park Blocks, surrounded by Portland’s civic institutions, and it totally transformed the atmosphere before the ride, both for eager riders and curious onlookers. Unlike in past years, when the ride’s begun on the Central Eastside industrial district, the energy was arriving from all directions. Happy people in various states of undress swarmed through the trees of the park blocks and swamped the surrounding streets.

The fact that onlookers knew just where the ride began seemed to slow things down. The first couple of turns for riders became bottlenecks when mostly-well-meaning pedestrians left the curbs to offer high fives.

On the other hand, a different start point wouldn’t have offered neon pink towers for naked young riders to dance happily inside, to the cheers of the watching crowd. And once the crowd crossed the Burnside Bridge, it was smooth sailing all the way to the afterparties.

It’s not clear yet just how many riders showed up. “The count (no good numbers yet) is directly tied to the slow start,” ride co-organizer Carl Larson wrote. “There’s a reason Bridge Pedal doesn’t start all at once…”

Jonathan and I are processing photographer Alex Milan Tracy‘s shots of the night and we’ll have another post up soon.

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  • Reza June 9, 2013 at 1:31 am

    I think what was most incredible for me was that when you turned from Couch onto 12th near the end of the ride, you saw that there was still a massive number of riders who were just crossing the Burnside Bridge, and were probably 15-20 minutes behind. The ride seemed to be quite a bit larger than last year’s, although the route felt shorter. But we did hit gridlock on E Burnside around 9th or 10th and were forced to walk our bikes a few blocks.

    Was the first time the WNBR did not go down SE Hawthorne? As far as I can remember the route included the long downhill between 30th and 12th, where some nasty accidents were known to occur.

    Cheers to the organizers, participants, and rabid onlookers for putting on a great spectacle, as always. And to the PPD for accommodating the ride. I just wish it wasn’t so COLD. I think I preferred the weather last year with the cloud cover and (minimal) drizzle.

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  • Shari June 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    It was GREAT! The only problem was the lack of toilets. My boyfriend and I went there directly after dinner with friends. Those dinner drinks went right thru both of us and the line for the toilet was about 50 people deep – BF and I were both forced to pee in bushes.

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    • Jonathan Gordon June 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

      I missed the part of your post where you said you then promptly donated to make sure there are more porta potties next year. Though I waited on that 50-person line and it took less than 10 minutes.

      Donation link at the bottom of this page:

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  • JebJeb June 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Maybe it’s time for a late July or early August WNBR, for the cold blooded. Me!!

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  • Jimmy June 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I was walking down Hawthorne around 10:30 last night and there were hundreds of people with lawn chairs waiting for the ride. Why wasn’t the route publicized?
    Getting rid of that bottleneck at 34th & Belmont was probably good, but leaving SE 28th and Hawthorne out of the mix was a pretty big fail.

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    • John Lascurettes June 10, 2013 at 7:42 am

      It never has been nor never will be publicized. It’s covered in the FAQ of their site I think.

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  • Indy June 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I missed Hawthorne too. The ride started off slowly, had pockets of strange darkness and crickets on Weidler, and didn’t seem to have the energy and enthusiasm of last year.

    I think starting at the Schnitz, heading South, looping past the library would be a great start. Those gates opening and the guys/girls dancing really sent a chill down my spine, it’s too bad everyone was headed the other way.

    Lot of lessons to be learned for this. I think it’s time to start permitting this and make it a serious institution(maybe even tourist draw) in the city.

    Yeah I know the few hundred people that started it are rolling their eyes, but them’s the breaks. This beast has been released and you lost control of it. Be proud of your baby growing up now.

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    • tnk June 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      They did get a permit this year, I believe. At least I read that on their website.

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  • Jeff June 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I crossed the hawthorn bridge with a bunch of naked people headed to the park blocks at ten oclock. we waited by the snitzer for a long time maybe and hour but naked. burrr.. The solid stream of people i was riding with was directed by police straight to the end point once we crossed the burnside. Im guessing the ride was cut down cuz the cops didnt want to look at our buts all night :/ We could do that once a month! rain or shine.
    PORTLAND!! That was cool.

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