Monday, June 13, 2005

World Naked Bike Ride


I spent Saturday morning working on my herb garden and shopping with Mia and John for BBQ food and then buying dropbar-end lights and making streamers and spoke weavings for my bike in the afternoon. I recycled a mylar ‘blanket’ given to my big bro at the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon from years past to decorate the Mint Julep. She looks beautiful and festive now. Apparently the lights illuminate the streamers at night and are highly visible. Other riders says it looks cool from the back.

After doing these chores I threw in some laundry and showered. All of my sundresses were drying, so I just wore the short/low-cut nightie I was wearing to take the fixie for a trial spin. I wanted to find out if there were any problems caused by the mylar before the Naked Ride began. The bike was fine, but the reaction of my fellow travelers and neighbors was pretty obnoxious. I didn’t appreciate the hooting and actually considered not doing the ride since this was just foreshadowing for the rest of the evening.

I also started feeling a little weird in general about doing the ride because I know a lot more people this year compared to last year. Do I really want to see them naked? Especially my roommate and my Hbar business partners–John and I wear robes to the shower in our apartment. Do I really want to see all of my friends naked?....... Do I want them to see me naked? This wasn’t a huge question in my mind, just a nagging doubt. I removed my tools from my seat bag to make room for my sundress during the ride and packed my ARDC card/sheriff’s ID/$$ and chapstick. I was traveling light. Around 7:00 I tucked an orchid in my hair, slapped on some lipstick, and went to the pre-ride body painting party.

As was the plan, the announced meeting place was just a sham to filter out the creepy perverts. A biker was standing on the sidewalk–with a cop car stationed across the street. People who didn’t look as if they were going to participate, but only gawk and photograph didn’t get the digits. I rolled up to her and she immediately gave me the address of the party–Todd’s place, where I worked on my bike the night before. Off I went and found his place easily this time. After a while a tarp was laid out on the lawn and people set to painting each other.

Travis asked me to paint his face and I was reminded again how amazingly intimate it is to touch another person’s face. When I was done painting him, he offered to return the favor so I slipped off my sundress and he painted a tree form on my shoulders, chest and belly. This felt weird for about 30 seconds, and then it was just fine and cool. Just like jumping into cool water, it is only the initial moment of nudity that is discomforting for me. Travis is an artist, and apparently he did a good job, because I heard several compliments and people pointing at me.

After painting we re-robed and met up with other riders in Palmer Square Park which was flanked with cop cars. The word was given and we quickly stripped and got rolling as a group. We wiggled around the city for about three hours (9:00-midnight) and rode in basically two types of areas: residential or busy bar areas. The bar areas were fun because the streets were lined with people cheering and the flashing of photographs. Basically the bars and restaurants emptied out onto the sidewalks so people could gawk at our 200 person spectacle. White frat-boy types kept yelling, "show your tits" all along the ride, while black men preferred "show me dos titties" as the mantra of choice. Ummmm........both of these requests seemed very odd considering that most of the women were topless. I guess they just didn’t know what else to say. Dumbasses. The residential areas were a nice reprieve from all of the yelling and solace from the cameras.

Anyway we went through the bar strips of Lincoln Park, River North, Michigan Ave and then past Blues Fest at Grant Park before taking Lake Shore Drive (tehehe) south to Congress and then going through the Book Fair in Printers Row, South Loop, Downtown, West Loop and then up Milwaukee Avenue to Wicker Park. Hui Hwa and I broke off slightly before the end of the ride to see John’s band play at the Hideout.

I was exhausted at this point and my body didn’t feel too great either. Long, slow group rides like Critical Mass can be exhausting under normal conditions. Riding past the huge rowdy crowds saps even more energy–especially while being on vigilant look-out for men who might grab or cops who might arrest (6 total arrests). Also my ass was getting sore and my hands and arms were killing me–because I wasn’t wearing gloves and my fixies bars are still unwrapped in the spirit of the ride. Plus there was a man riding a recumbent who sucked because he often swerved unpredictably–I made several conscious attempts to get away from him, but he kept reappearing.

Hint: recumbents are unstable at slower speeds–don’t ride them on slow group rides (or if you do ride them, pay attention so you don’t swerve like a drunkerd into other peoples’ paths.).

Instead of feeling weird with the other Hbar owners, it was pretty fun to ride and joke with them. At one point along Michigan Avenue we were all riding abreast and I thought it would make a great picture for the Hbar. Tehehe. Too. Fun.

Anyway, I got to the Hideout in time to hear John’s last song and then I mentally crashed. I was super-exhausted and starting to feel cranky. Plus, people were asking about the body paint that wasn’t covered by my sundress. Almost all of the people who I explained the ‘tree’ picture/WNBR asked to see the whole painting. Sorry, but I’m not going to strip down in a bar to sate strangers’ curiosity–that’s too ‘girls gone wild’ for my taste. I was over-stimulated and not in the mood to deal with strangers, so John and I left for Flash Taco before heading home to eat our burritos on our porch.

Even though I was very tired, I decided that going to bed with paint on was NOT a good idea, so I jumped in the shower. Thankfully the paint washed off quite easily, and I realized that I was standing in several inches of bright, grass-green water. It was such a delightful site, that my cranky mood disappeared (apparently John didn’t find the evidence of this as delightful the next morning, though). I went to bed slightly after 2:00A.M. tired and slightly achy, but clean and happy.

Altogether, another successful World Naked Bike Ride!


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