Want to make a political statement while riding a bike and topping up your all over tan? You're in luck because the British leg of the World Naked Bike Rides (WNBR) gets going in earnest this weekend with three rides starting in Southampton on Friday, followed by London on Saturday and then Brighton on Sunday.
While there was a decided nip in the air for the first UK WNBR in Portsmouth last month the weather gods look like they're going to be a lot kinder to this weekend's rides with good weather predicted for all three.
The World Naked Bike Rides certainly add to the gaiety of whatever nation they are taking part in, but they do have a serious point they are both a protest about the world's dependancy on oil and the way car culture rules our lives; and a celebration of the bicycle, the individuality of the human body and demonstration of the vulnerability of the two in traffic.
If you're thinking of taking part the WNBR website has links to the individual rides and is a mine of information. The three basic things to know are the dress code which is as bare as you dare, the fact that nudity in itself is not illegal under UK law and a couple of dos and don't. DO wear body paint and fancy dress if you want and DON'T get naked before the ride starts or stay that way after it finishes (although the Brighton ride finishes at a nudist beach so it's all right there). The organisers of all three of this weekend's rides have good relationships with the police and they would like to keep it that way.
With barely any planning at all you could make it a weekend of naked bike riding starting in Southampton at 6PM tomorrow evening (what better way to get home from work) when the seventh Southampton WNBR assembles at the east side of Southampton Common (full details here on the WNBR website) before heading off on a six mile loop.
If previous years are anything to go by there will be well over a hundred riders - if the weather is as kind as the forecast suggests there could be plenty more. Reading the history of the six rides Southampton have been luckier with the weather more often than not and last year's ride which was described as "perishingly cold" still managed to attract 143 riders.
Saturday sees the 10th edition the London WNBR every ride since 2007 has attracted well over 1000 riders so expect a big crowd tomorrow. There are five start locations - three north of the river: Marble Arch, Regents Park, and Kings Cross and two south of the river: Clapham Junction, and West Norwood. The rides set off at roughly the same time (exact timings and much more info can be had here) the rides from north of the river merge at Piccadilly Circus while those from south of the river come together at Vauxahall Bridge before the whole lot join up near the London Eye for a pootle round Central London ending at the Wellington Arch. Ride length is roughly 9 miles plus a bit depending on where you start from - if it's West Norwood that's going to be a bit longer.
You can then do it all again on Sunday on the 8th Brighton WNBR another ride that is expected to draw upwards of a thousand riders. This year's ride starts in Preston Park, body decorating and entertainment start at noon, the ride itself assembles at 1pm and sets off at 1.30 for a two hour jaunt around town taking in the sites and ending up on the nudist beach between 3.30 and 4pm. Who knows who you'll see on that one - our own Vecchiojo lives close by and pink is his favourite colour so it seems like the perfect match - we're sure he'll report back if he is there.
Oh yes, don't forget your sunscreen.
(Next weekend sees an even bigger crop of UK rides in Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Canterbury so let's hope the weather holds)
*Or should that be the other way around
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.