ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
And just like that, on Saturday, summer arrived. The sky was a glorious blue — finally. It was hot — finally. There were naked cyclists in the streets — FINALLY!
Yes, Saturday witnessed another staging of the World Naked Bike Ride (Eugene Edition).
I encountered WNBR(EE) at Charnelton and Broadway. I was riding home from the RiverPlay playground near Skinner Butte, heading south on Charnelton, my two kids in the bike trailer.
The WNBR(EE) riders streamed through the intersection in front of us, heading west on Broadway, breasts dangling in the golden sunshine.
Then there was some sort of disturbance. One of the riders was yelling at a car. I think he just wanted the car to take his turn at the four-way stop. I know, I hate it, too, for some reason, when a car waves me through a four-way stop even though the car clearly arrived first and has the right of way. It’s a bizarre kind of “courtesy” that makes me angry. Like I’m being patronized.
Anyway, whatever they were yelling about was resolved, and the riders continued on their way in their varying degrees of nakedness: some actually pretty much clothed, a lot of shirtless guys, a bunch of topless women and a handful of fully naked men — including one generously endowed gentleman wearing a Day-Glo orange condom on his flaccid member — well, either he was generously endowed or he was stuffing. But it was probably nice for the full-frontal guys that it wasn’t 45 degrees and pounding rain. Lest …
I turned the corner onto Broadway, right in the middle of them. “Hey,” I yelled to the kids, “we’re in the World Naked Bike Ride!”
My kids are at an age when seeing a group of people naked on bicycles is about as surprising as seeing a person walking a dog. In fact, after we got home later, I was chatting with a neighbor and I asked my 3-year-old to tell the neighbor what we’d just seen. “Balloons!!” she yelled, remembering a cluster of such that she’d spotted tied to someone’s porch. “And naked bike riders,” she added, almost as an afterthought.
Just a half an hour before we’d encountered the naked bike ride, she had been ready to disrobe herself, in order to play in one of the water features at RiverPlay. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but the place was so mobbed, I felt like I had to discourage her from going fully bare-ass naked. She seemed disappointed, which made me a little sad for her. So begins the slow death of innocence.
But not if WNBR(EE) can help it!
The ride turned north on Lincoln and I continued with them for another couple of blocks. They stopped and waited patiently at red lights. They stayed in the bike lane, more or less. They were all very courteous from what I saw (that one little outburst at the four-way stop notwithstanding), and they seemed to be trying hard to follow the rules of the road, lest motorists brand them “just another bunch of obnoxious, naked, holier-than-thou cyclists.”
But the most remarkable thing about the WNBR(EE), I think, was how unremarkable it was. Nobody else seemed to care. No cops following. No gawkers. (Except maybe for me.) Sure, a few heads turned, but — ah, well, just another summer day in Eugene.
The point of WNBR, apparently, is to show the vulnerability — the nakedness, I guess — of cyclists who pedal streets teeming with cars and trucks and motorists who like to text while they drive. Fair enough point, I suppose. Clever gimmick. Probably fun for the participants — if you’re a person of that kind of cheekiness. But do the motorists get it? I doubt it. And then there’s this added risk, of course …
::UPDATE — Only story in the news I noticed about this was this 40-second bit on KVAL. I’m not totally sure, though, the footage they show — aside from the brief interview — is from this particular ride.