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.
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.
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.
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.
➤ 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.”
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.
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!
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.
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…
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