Category Archives: Manchester Naked Bike Ride
After taking part in the Manchester Naked Bike Ride last year (click here for blog article), I really wanted to take part in the big one – Brighton!
On Sunday 9th June, I joined 600 or so others and circled round the gorgeous city in a protest against oil dependency and car culture. WNBR’s take place around the world are a celebration of the bicycle as well as the power and individuality of the human body.
During the ride and immediately post ride, I have to say the whole experience was on the whole really good. However, upon reflection I have changed my mind about participating in further rides.
The main issue that I have is with the number of intrusive photographers that the ride attracts.
The event met at Preston Park whereby the organisers had created a tented area for participants to get changed/body-painted which offered some privacy. In addition, stewards walked around with placards asking for photographers to get permission before taking photos. Non-participants were told to stand around the perimeter of the participants circle. I acknowledge that the start of the ride is in the middle of a public park so making it fully private is very difficult but getting changed in front of onlookers and photographers was a little daunting.
I am mindful of my ‘day job’ and so have made sure to wear a mask at this and previous rides. As much as I enjoy the rides, there is the sense of fear afterwards that someone is going to recognise me!
I’m not opposed to people taking photos of the event either (capturing the moment, etc) it is the photographers who turn up with their tele-photo lenses taking close up photos of female participants. It was very noticeable that when a female participant arrived and started to undress, the photographers started twitching.
Whilst the thrill of cycling around Brighton fully naked is exhilarating, I really wouldn’t want to be a female participant – particularly if i wanted to do it as the WNBR states – ‘As Bare As You Dare’.
I am also mindful of a blog by a fellow naturist – The Naked Imp in which the author decided against participating in the 2013 Manchester Ride due to the number of close up photos of female participants that appear on porn-related websites. I think that this is a real shame that someone who wants to participate (either as a naturist or to support car-free cultures, or both) has decided against it due to the presence of intrusive photographers. With this in mind, I have decided to disguise all participants in the accompanying images.
After cycling down from Preston Park, we came to the first rest spot – Hove Lawns
Before heading back into Brighton to the second stop – Old Steine
It was here, that I felt the most uncomfortable to be honest. We were stood around for about 30 mins in amongst shoppers and photographers (see images above). I actually put my shorts back on due to feeling exposed. I didn’t see the need to stay at Old Seine for this length of time, especially as I was stood next to an elderly Brightonian who repeatedly asked me “if there were many ladies participating this year”. I changed the subject to being from Manchester and was then asked whether there were any mixed-sex saunas in Manchester, and randomly, what the architecture was like! In addition, the PA was too quiet to listen to any of the speeches.
I was glad then, to leave the 2nd stop and head towards Kemp Town and the naturist beach
Finishing the ride, I spent half an hour of so drinking a few celebratory beers. However, the breeze got up so I decided to leave.
I was also put out by again, the number of photographers who were lined up along the beach taking photos of participants. I know that participants know what they are signing up to, and the importance that the media can play in raising awareness of the cause, however, when there is a bank of photographers stood at the beach taking close-up photos, I think things are going too far.
What did amuse me (after the initial shock) was a guy post-ride sunbathing next to me who was sporting an erection who was asked if he could have his photo taken. The guy replied no which, given the exhibitionist nature with which he was lying, I thought was a bit bizarre!
On the whole, the event was enjoyable and the response from people in the streets, stood outside bars was fantastic. The sheer number of participants also made the event amazing and much better than Manchester. The organisation was great with fantastic stewards and Policing. However, if you are a female reading this, I’d think carefully about taking part given the number of voyeurs it attracts.
The Brighton WNBR Facebook page is requesting feedback for future events. A few that spring to mind for me are:
* Increase size of changing area in Preston Park
* Scrap use of Old Steine as a rest stop – Hove Lawns was fine but think some photographers just walked down from Preston Park for another photo opportunity – maybe Old Steine was too far for them to walk to?
* Review use of PA system and location for speeches
* Liaise with Police to ensure the there is some kind of presence at the end of the ride at the beach. What would happen if a group of photographers started to take photos at the beach on any other day? What makes it ok just because people have participated in the WNBR?
On Friday 1st June, I did the Manchester Naked Bike Ride.
Arriving at All Saints Park, Oxford Road just around 6.30pm there was a growing number of people arriving (including some people offering body painting).
Naked Bike Rides have taken place in 50+ cities around the world with around 3000 people taking part in UK rides each year. The purpose is ‘a peaceful, imaginative and fun protest against oil dependency and car culture. A celebration of the bicycle and also a celebration of the power and individuality of the human body. A symbol of the vulnerability of the cyclist in traffic’. Click here for more details.
This was the first time I had been really nervous about taking my clothes off in public – guess the fact I was in my hometown and the number of ‘spectators’ stood around watching was also quite unnerving. I actually contemplated not doing it but the thought of missing out was too great, so I took the plunge. I was mainly conscious about being photographed without my disguise so figured the best way was to leave the park to put on my bear mask before coming back into the park and starting to remove my clothes.
In total, there was around 100 – 150 people participating. I’d say that the majority were naked and there was an interesting mix of people – usual amount of older men (50+) plus a good number of younger females (20-30’s) – maybe the feature of the London Naked Bike Ride in the Channel 4 documentary ‘My Daughter The Teenage Nudist’ helped to promote these rides to a younger audience?
Once naked, we were given instructions by the organisers, gave a cheer for all participating and off we went.
The route for the ride went up Oxford Road, into St Ann’s Square, along Fountain Street and down to the Printworks. From here were turned down past Victoria Station, along Deansgate, then back up Oxford Road towards Portland Street. Here we headed towards Piccadilly Gardens, down through Canal Street, then back to All Saints Park.
Here’s some videos of the event –
I have to say, the reaction from the good people of Manchester was fantastic – really positive and encouraging. However, there was one incidence that was particularly unsavoury. As we headed along Fountain Street, at the top of Market Street, there was a group of young lads who were trying to grab the female riders as cycled through. Maybe next year, the Police can provide some officers to stand here to ensure that this does not happen again?
If anybody wants any of the photos removing send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll remove them.
This past weekend has been amazing. This is what happened…….
Friday 25th May
Enjoyed the evening sun (and a few pints) at the roof terrace of the Bridge, Bridge Street in Manchester. The roof terrace is small but nice and quiet compared to the hundreds of people out around Spinningfields. We actually thought it would make an amazing naturist retreat (not overlooked, sun trap) – just needs a hot tub in the corner!
Saturday 26th May
Spent a lovely few hours soaking up the sun in the back garden. Managed to erect some screening to allow for a spot of naked sunbathing – Bliss!
I then went to a naturist swim organised by North West Naturists at Fit City Worsley in Walkden, Salford. There was around 40 people at the swim, mainly aged 40 years plus, although there was a good number of couples and a handful of younger folks.
On arrival, I was greeted at the door by one of the organisers, signed in, paid my £10 and shown where the facilities were. We had the full use of the venue which included a large pool, smaller ‘learner pool’, sauna and steam room. The organisers also set up a small area for refreshments. Everyone I spoke to was really friendly and will definitely go again. For more information about North West Naturists, click here.
Sunday 27th May
Waking up to another day of beautiful sunshine, we decided to travel over to Morfa Dyffryn naturist beach in North Wales.
The beach is located north of Barmouth on the A496 (the coast road). Almost exactly four miles from central Barmouth you’ll come across the village of Tal-y-bont. Drive through Tal-y-bont and over a narrow bridge. Shortly after this bridge you’ll come across a road down to the beach on the left-hand side (signposted ‘Traeth Beach’ and Dyffryn Seaside Estate). Follow this road down to the first car park. Here there is a road to the right signposted Dyffryn Seaside Estate. Drive into to campsite and turn left at the small roundabout. Here we paid £2 to leave the car all day. There is a small shop where you can buy provisions.
To get to the naturist section, take the path at the top of the car park which takes you through a cut in the sand dunes. Once you get to the beach, turn right. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the naturist section as is marked by official notice posts (the large number of naturists will also inform you that you are there!).
The weather was gorgeous (if a little windy. NB. recommend that you take a wind break), and there was a good number of naturists enjoying the sun (maybe around 100 in total). At the start of the naturist section, most beach-goers were couples in their 40 – 50’s or families with young children. The further along the naturist section, there was an increase in gay males. There was a fair amount of men in the sand dunes but saw no inappropriate sexual behaviour. Journey from Manchester took around 2 hours but was definitely worth it and we look forward to going back again this summer.
If any of you have been to Morfa Dyffryn, we’d love to hear from you!
Next up…. Manchester Naked Bike Ride on Friday 1st June!