Special gravel coverage

Portland’s Naked Bike Ride is Saturday. Here’s what you need to know

Posted by on June 19th, 2018 at 10:56 am

Riders cross the Hawthorne Bridge during the 2012 edition.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Official poster by Ken Sellen.

The largest free bike ride of the year is less than a week away.

Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is many things: a celebration of humanity, a protest against driving and fossil fuel abuse, a rolling party, and a demonstration of the unifying power of bicycles. The event will attract upwards of 10,000 people — many of whom don’t bike any other day of the year. That’s an impressive number; but what’s even more impressive is that it’s all organized by volunteers. People in our community care so much about this event they dedicate weeks of their lives to make sure it’s a positive experience for everyone who shows up.

That means we owe it to them to help make the Naked Bike Ride a continued success.

I talked with one of the main organizers yesterday to get the lowdown on this year’s ride. Here’s what you need to know to have as much fun as possible — and to make sure we don’t risk spoiling this invaluable, largely DIY, tradition.

The Route

As usual, the route details and end location are closely held secrets. What we do know is that the start will be at Cathedral Park on the Willamette River under the St. Johns Bridge.

Please respect the boundaries.

The good news is that this is a very cool place and it’s got the perfect layout for this event. It also has a stage, something we haven’t had at WNBR for 10 years. Organizers have lined up local hot jazz band High Step Society to help stoke the celebrations. The downside of starting in Cathedral Park is that it’s on a steep slope and the ride will start with an uphill for three blocks. Don’t despair! Embrace the slow start as a way to meet your fellow naked riders and soak up the experience.

The ending of the ride is always tricky and this year is no different. Many people won’t know what to do or how to find their way home (remember, this ride attracts tons of biking newbies who don’t have the same mental map of backstreets many veterans have). Organizers say we can’t stay at the end spot very long, so it’s crucial that we help others find their way home and/or to one of the official after-parties. Also note: Use caution and watch for obstacles when entering the end spot.

Once the ride is done, find the flaming Tiki Bike and follow it to the outdoor after-party at the edge of the field. Also look for the jugglers who will be sharing information. Bottom line: Disperse from the end spot as soon as you can.

Communication breakdown

After they posted a video by The Oregonian that appeared to meet all posted guidelines, Facebook’s algorithm blocked WNBR admins from responding to questions or posting new information on the official event page. That means you need to use other channels to stay updated and/or ask for info. You can follow @pdxwnbr on Twitter and Instagram. If you have more detailed questions, email pdxwnbr[at]gmail[dot]com.

And just FYI, the official event hashtag is #pdxwnbr.

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With so many people in a small space, it’s crucial to pick up after yourself.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

➤ Don’t litter – It should go without saying, but this is a strictly, leave-no-trace event. Most veteran bike fun riders understand this, but there will be lots of newcomers who might assume there’s a huge paid staff that will clean-up after them. That’s not the case! Please do your part to keep things tidy. Pack it in, pack it out — especially at the end location.

➤ Consent is a must – Only take photos of someone if they are comfortable with it. Yes, it’s a public place and public event, but that doesn’t mean people want their nude portrait all over social media. Same goes for touching other people. If they didn’t ask for it, don’t do it! If you see someone being rude or inappropriate, ask the victim if they need help. If you get touched or treated in a way that feels wrong, here’s what to do: Tell the person who is doing the activity that you do not want them to do it; Tell someone near you that the person is doing something you do not like; Take a photo or video of the person you have asked to stop; Tell a security guard or police officer if you can find one. It’s important to let the police know, but officers on-hand have a lot to handle so get as many details as you can and report it immediately to the PPB’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

Don’t drink and ride

Drinking and smoking of any substance is illegal at the start, during the ride, and at the end. Not only that, but when you fall on bare skin (see it happen every year), it hurts extra bad. Here’s additional guidance from the organizers: “If you see someone drinking, gently them that the ride could be cancelled if we don’t follow the laws. If you see someone who’s drunk on their bike, please tell a cop.”

Biketown it!

Biketown-sponsored souvenir seat covers.
(Photo: PDX WNBR)

If you need a bike, you can try renting from a local shop. Also note that Biketown has stepped up to be a partner on this year’s ride. They’ve agreed to waive the $10 out-of-area fee for the night. You can also get a $5 ride credit with the WNBR18 promo code.

Additional kudos to Biketown for sponsoring this year’s saddle covers (designed by local artist David Novick) which will be available by donation at the event.

Naked bikenomics

Some St. Johns businesses will be open extra hours to serve riders. The local go-to bike shop is Block Bikes (7238 N Burlington, very close to the start) and they’ll be ready to help if you need anything last-minute. And just a few blocks north of the park is Occidental Brewing who will be hosting their annual Crawfish Boil. Sounds like a perfect pre-ride spot to us! Wherever you go, please be respectful of your presence and remember this is a small and usually quiet neighborhood.

Bring cash for official souvenirs!

Volunteers Jen and Bryan sporting the hanky.
(Photo: PDX WNBR)

Help raise funds for next year’s ride by ponying up for official merchandise. Look for the booth near the stage before the ride from 8:00 to 9:00 pm. Fundraisers will also be wandering through the crowd with items like this year’s handprinted “Less Gas, More Ass” handkerchiefs, 2018 stickers, and the official ride poster by local artist Ken Sellen. You can also buy items online at BuyOlympia.com.

More volunteers needed

To make sure the ride goes smoothly, organizers have boosted the number of volunteers to help riders stay informed and on-point. They still need more people to help. You can sign-up here.

Have fun!

Relax and enjoy it. It’s an amazing experience I can’t recommend highly enough. Here’s this year’s promo video to get you in the mood…

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • John Lascurettes June 19, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I absolutely love this year’s poster. Probably the best ever. And I’m totally gutted that this will be the first ride I’m missing in 11 years. Have a great ride everyone.

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  • Matthew in PDX June 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I’ll be there for my fourth ride, this being my fourth year in Portland!

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  • Matthew in PDX June 19, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    If you are on the fence, remember this: you won’t be the oldest, youngest, thinnest, fattest, ugliest, prettiest, or any other superlative you can think of. Relax and enjoy the event. Also, the rule is “as bare as you dare”, so go to Cathedral Park, and take off as much clothing as you feel comfortable shedding, you never know, as the night goes on, your comfort level will probably rise, and you may shed more.

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    • John Lascurettes June 19, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Every newbie I’ve ever bought starts out a little daringly demure and eventually and enthusiastically says, “my god, I’m so overdressed!” And then sheds it all. I love it.

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  • John Lascurettes June 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    * “brought” not “bought”

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  • Kyle Banerjee June 19, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    “a celebration of humanity, a protest against driving and fossil fuel abuse, a rolling party, and a demonstration of the unifying power of bicycles. The event will attract upwards of 10,000 people — many of whom don’t bike any other day of the year.”

    I’d be surprised if over 1% of the population outside a few tiny communities perceive WNBR to be any of those things. No one I’ve told over the years that it’s a protest was aware of that, and most laughed when I told them because none of them thought that’s how it will be perceived.

    That so many noncyclists participate and that so many can’t figure out how to get home makes me wonder how much the procycling and antidriving components really have to do with it.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 19, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Kyle, Have you ever been on the ride? Or did you glean your perspective from only the people you talk to about the ride? And my point was that there are as many reasons for coming to this ride as their are people on the ride.

      FWIW I don’t care why people show up! All that matters is that people show up.

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      • Kyle Banerjee June 19, 2018 at 3:24 pm

        I have not been to the ride, and the perspective I shared is from noncyclists and casual cyclists who have no more awareness of cycling issues than the general public.

        For a protest to have impact, it needs to reach people who aren’t already sympathetic. For the vast majority of outside observers, the idea that WNBR is a protest that draws attention to vulnerability of cyclists is literally funny. On the plus side, the general reaction to the event seems to be to make people smile — including those who don’t particularly like cyclists.

        Not that the rolling party sea of humanity thing isn’t good enough reason for people to
        participate. Every year, people bug me to go and I toy with the idea. I have some head turning hardware to ride which would be easy enough to light up with electroluminescent wire — if I do this, I’m going whole hog with full body paint coordinated with my bike and light scheme.

        BTW, did I see you riding Burnside crossing Broadway this morning about 8:15? I didn’t get a great view so I couldn’t be sure. I normally wouldn’t expect such a strong advocate for separate infrastructure to take a road like that, but some of the other stuff you do requires comfort with traffic. If those who ride these spaces encourage and help others who are ready to expand what is rideable to them, there would be more cyclists everywhere which is good for everyone.

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        • John Lascurettes June 19, 2018 at 3:40 pm

          Have you at least seen the ride? Because if you did, I doubt you’d miss the protest component of it. A good percentage of the riders are painted or carrying signs with messages of alternative transportation, roadway vulnerability, and body positivity. Yes, the nakedness gets the attention, but the messages are out there.

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          • Kyle Banerjee June 20, 2018 at 6:03 am

            I’ve seen it as well as coverage, and yes I’ve seen the signs.

            That many people carry messages doesn’t change the basic dynamic. The whole premise of any protest is that the protesters need someone else to fix something because otherwise they could fix it themselves. Among other things, this means that they need to send the target audience a clear message with a good reason to change — otherwise, why would anyone do anything different?

            Rather than reinforcing how vulnerable cyclists are, the nakedness distracts from any of the messages you mention and in fact is a draw for many participants. The same thing happens every year and for most people, this just comes off as one of those Portland hippy dippy things.

            To turn your question around, have you talked with people who aren’t tuned into certain activist communities and are already sympathetic? This has been going on a long time, and I have yet to encounter a nonactivist that takes the the message seriously. And it’s not like protest messages never reach others. BLM and the Occupy messages have a lot of resonance.

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            • John Lascurettes June 20, 2018 at 10:09 am

              I use the discussion of the WNBR at every opportunity for the cause. “Hey, you’ve done the naked ride, right? Isn’t that uncomfortable.” After I explain a few things about bicycle geometry and basic human anatomy I tell them what it’s all about. They’re often curious about coming out and trying it next year. Those that do see show fun and liberating it is to ride. And no, it’s not exactly an intro to commuting in traffic, but it does show them that there’s more to getting around than a metal isolation chamber.

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          • Middle of the Road Guy June 20, 2018 at 9:00 am

            How does body positivity have anything to do with alternative transportation?

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        • Dan A June 20, 2018 at 7:15 am

          “Here’s an event I don’t care about. Get ready for some long-winded posts where I tell everyone what’s wrong with this event.”

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          • Kyle Banerjee June 20, 2018 at 9:56 am

            “We can’t have a proper echo chamber if we consider minority viewpoints. Let’s make them feel unwelcome while pretending we’re inclusive.”

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            • Dan A June 22, 2018 at 11:16 am

              You frequently spam discussions about things you don’t care about with long braggadocious comments about how much better you would be able to do things if you had any interest.

              ‘Minority’ viewpoint has nothing to do with it.

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          • John Lascurettes June 20, 2018 at 10:10 am

            “I don’t get it, therefore no one else will either.”

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    • rachel b June 20, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      I’ve gotta agree with Kyle, here. 😉 White people just like gettin’ naked in public. It’s strange.

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  • huh June 19, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    You got consent from the dozens of people in the above photos? Don’t drink but go to a brewery pre-ride?


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    • Clarence Eckerson June 19, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Pretty sure when Jonathan says consent he means very close up shots or individual shots of people. But if people aren’t comfortable to be seen in a shot with 100 people from far away in a ride like this, then they wouldn’t be doing a ride like this.

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  • soren June 19, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    “If you see someone who’s drunk on their bike, please tell a cop.”

    The Portland Police Bureau has a brutal track record of civil rights violations and unnecessary violence against marginalized folk. Urging people to report individuals and subject them to possible violence or worse is simply awful.

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    • Kyle Banerjee June 20, 2018 at 5:39 am

      Such reporting could even direct police resources away from enforcing against marginalized communities.

      Unless crowd pictures and videos published everywhere are being systematically altered, that’s not who shows up to this event. Perhaps that explains why this has not been a problem in past years despite the fact that protesters disrupt major thoroughfares?

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  • Roberta Robles June 20, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Mother of two here: it’s ok to take your kids to the naked bike ride. Give them the choice to wear clothes. This is an epic experience for kids to have. There are all kinds of learning opportunies, discussion and dialogue that goes into seeing this many naked people riding. Every body is beautiful and different. There is a time and place to be naked. Consent to be naked in public is a rare privilidge. Establishing personal space boundaries. This is the rare protest ride I’ve felt a bonding with Portland Police. They are usually all smiles at this protest ride.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 20, 2018 at 8:03 am

      comment of the week. (thanks for sharing Roberta).

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      • Roberta Robles June 20, 2018 at 9:26 am

        Ahh yeah!!! Get your boobies out there! I should add that I absolutely love the poster. Breastfeeding is much easier if everybody would relax about accidental nipple exposure. Do it for the kids 🙂

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    • rachel b June 20, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      I would’ve hated my parents making me go on Naked Bike Ride when I was a kid. I suspect it may not be an “epic experience” for a lot of kids.

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      • Roberta Robles June 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm

        Time and place. Every kid is different. If all you’ve seen are breastfeeding breasts then you have no shame in eating or seeing what nourishes you. Would I take an older kid? I would offer and use this as a chance to learn and discuss.

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        • rachel b June 20, 2018 at 10:17 pm

          “If all you’ve seen are breastfeeding breasts then you have no shame in eating or seeing what nourishes you.”

          You can not want to go (as a kid, or as an adult, for that matter) for reasons other than shame, yuh know. 😉 You can even be body positive and not be interested in mass-naked-white-people things. Every kid is different, sure. But kids are guided by, and at the mercy of, the adults in their lives. And a good kid who wants to please their parent(s) may say “yeah! let’s go!” but may actually find it uncomfortable (to say the least) being exposed to (by which I mean “seeing”) a bunch of naked adult strangers. I would not advocate taking kids to this event. Exposing your kids to nakedness at home is one thing. Exposing them to a bunch of exposed strangers–a huge crowd of them, many of them perhaps not there for all the right reasons–seems like not such a great idea.

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      • Kyle Banerjee June 20, 2018 at 6:30 pm

        I doubt I’d be a cyclist today if my parents had taken me on a Naked Bike Ride.

        I get the distinct impression that those who come the closest to actually practicing the Naked Bike Ride thing on a daily basis, namely road cyclists — i.e. those who ride actual roads dressed in lycra — are generally viewed here in a negative light and regarded to have undesirable exhibitionist traits.

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    • Gasper Johnson June 23, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      Jonathan, I think this comment warrants its own story. We have a lot of baggage when it comes to issues related to our bodies. The nature of shame precludes those who are experiencing it from addressing the source directly (because admitting the shame would increase the vulnerability to it). Instead we often find someone else who is also vulnerable to champion on our behalf, often kids. But for all the people wailing “wont someone think of the children” very few bother to ask them about their experience.

      Big surprise, many (most?) kids don’t care about clothes.

      But specifically Id love to hear more from parents and their kids. How have they navigated the sea of naked bodies. What questions have arose. What lessons were learned.

      I recently lost the starting venue for our naked ride in Las Vegas because they wanted the alcohol-free space to be adult only (+18). I didn’t care but it seemed odd to tell kids, arguably the most vulnerable that they would not be allowed inside so any kids wanting to do the ride would have to wait outside seemed counter-productive. So even tho there were probably not going to be anyone under 18 attending the possibility stopped the event cold. Ugh.

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  • TonyH June 20, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    My yearly slogan:

    The body you have, on the bike you have.

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  • Tom Hardy June 20, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I will second that John. The age of the sons and daughters and nieces and nephews make very little difference. Once they are introduced to the concept of the ironey of the protest they eventually get it! And many bring more the next year. I have found that race makes very little difference except the individuals that won’t ride think someone else will not think they look hot.

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  • David Smart June 21, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    The idea that consent is required for photos is idiotic. Someone can be naked and that’s their right, and it’s their right to ride on a secret route that I can’t avoid because they won’t tell me what roads to avoid, but it’s somehow my fault if they fall into the line of my camera?

    I’m all for freedom of speech, but not freedom from repercussions. Actions have consequences. Things that happen in in public social spaces may end up on public social media.

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    • Gasper Johnson June 23, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Community standards are what is important here. We have the right, as a community to say it is okay to ride naked, thus expanding our 1st amendment. The community standard can also limit or expand the right to privacy, our 4th amendment.

      Specifically this is enforced at the start of the ride.

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  • C Winsor June 23, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    It would have been a little more thoughtful to have given local neighbors a little heads’ up notice instead of making our evening a little hellish trying to figure out how to get home near Cathedral Park!! Most events at least notify affected neighbors of events that could impact them. NOT HAPPY!!

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    • Dan A June 24, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Send your suggestion to pdxwnbr[at]gmail[dot]com. BP doesn’t manage the ride.

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