Live & Direct From The 2nd Annual Naked Bike Ride


AaronAvatar_1.jpgBY AARON STELLA The Philly Naked Bike Ride, now in its second year, is intended to raise awareness of Philadelphia’s biker population, and of the advantages of biking: it’s cheap, green, good exercise, communal, and most importantly, fun. And so, from the grassy knoll of Lemon Hill, we rode again—in all there were more than 1,000 of us, many sans clothes—for the Second Annual Philly Naked Bike Ride. Oh yes, I was naked, and so were my friends (pictured above) thanks to some encouragement from a wandering group of women trying to snap pictures with the naked folk. Among the naked, some sported bright body paint in every bodily place, some wore masks, some with messages painted on their backs (e.g. “Burn Fat. Not Oil”), and then some like myself, letting it all hang out in the breeze.

The course of the estimated 90-minute bike ride toured us through Philadelphia’s most populated and typically traffic-heavy sectors: From Lemon Hill down Kelley Drive, round the Art Museum then down the Ben Franklin Parkway to 19th, round Rittenhouse Square then up to Market, round City Hall then onto 5th, through the tunnel under the bridge, up to Spring Garden to 3rd then through Northern Liberties, to Girard then back down 2nd, and finally hitting up New Market Street to the finish line at Schmidt’s Piazza. Along the way, inadvertent and intentional bystanders gawked, some in dismay, though many honked their car horns and “whooped!” us on in support. Even baby-toting families laughed gleefully as we rode past, some bikers loudly informing the babies, “This is how you were made!” Although the most impacting experience had on the ride by far was gliding through the 5th street tunnel with a thousand naked bikers unleashing jubilant cries.

But going back to the naked-in-waiting on Lemon Hill: no other physically relevant scenario that I could possibly conceive registers as more egalitarian than mingling with a bunch naked people. The feeling is transcendent, yet completely earthbound, in that all hierarchical constructs seem to crumble to pieces as the bikers arrive at Lemon Hill, only to casually disrobed. I remember spotting a biker en route who was declaring proudly in paint on her back, “Your body is beautiful.”—a message, in retrospect, I couldn’t agree with more. Seeing such a diversity of body types (really, when you got down to it, human types) almost pries your mind open to the beauty that is the human form. That is to say, that after reaching Schmidt’s Piazza, and triumphantly pumping our bikes in the air for one last hurrah, we all slowly dressed, and parted ways. The bike ride home was held in reverence. Though it was disheartening to wear clothing again, the memory of what happened that day, having rule over the road, being naked and being cheered on by your fellow citizens, had a mysteriously transformative effect on the soul. Renewed. Evolved, even. I can confidently say that there is no other experience I’ve had in Philadelphia that has made me love it more. Huzzah! Long live the Philly Naked Bike Ride!

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