Monday, July 28, 2014

Bare As You Dare: WNBR-STL

Last Saturday was the World Naked Bike Ride-St. Louis, and I participated! This blog post is totally SFW, but the links may not be. Click through at your own risk.

The ride was a blast. I had so much fun. My friend Jules and I connected with friends Melissa, Matthew, Mary, and Steven, and we met up with friends Harold, Karen, and their son Eli, after the race, too. Beyond that, I saw just two or three people I recognized at the event, which suggests to me that:
(1) this was one of those times when St. Louis was being all "big city" instead of "small town" (it vacillates wildly between the two) and
(2) more of my friends should ride bicycles. ;)

For Jules and me, "bare as you dare" = "not any barer than we'd otherwise be in public", so we opted for bikinis for the ride, and I wore a dress over my bikini to dinner and shorts over the bikini bottoms for the after-party. The WNBR stands for a number of great things:
  • Awareness and promotion of decreasing dependency on oil-guzzling transport ("burn carbohydrates, not hydrocarbons")
  • Increasing cyclist awareness and visibility
    ("now that you see me, pay attention to me when I ride with clothes on")
  • Positive body image reinforcement
    ("every body is beautiful")
I decided to play up the environmental aspects of riding, since those, together with increasing my fitness through easy and fun (not gym-specific) activity are my favorite reasons for riding, and "tattooed" burn carbs not hydrocarbons on my arm and leg in permanent marker (I'm much better at writing on my leg than my arm - the arm bit was pretty comically awful). 

By far, the highlight was the ride - over 1,500 (est.) cyclists from all economic and social backgrounds coming together. I love that bikes are a great leveler when it comes to other dividing lines to make a big and unified "us" group. When "we" take off our clothes and ride together, the effect is certainly amplified! I enjoyed all twelve miles - the camraderie and support from bystanders (and the hilarity of the occasional oh heeeellllll no) and was very happy to be at least partially-dressed, as not only did almost everyone have a cell phone, but almost all seemed to be set to video capture, judging by the way the bystanders were holding their gadgets. I was also perfectly happy to realize I was missing from all of the photos posted by the RFT (nsfw) Post-Dispatch (nsfw) and KSDK (mostly sfw). Ha! 

I also loved the creativity exhibited by the riders (in their various states of undress or dress). Our group really enjoyed City in a Jar Jess's "Starry Night" body paint (#64 of the RFT photos), and I was really inspired by a 1920s-flavor outfit featuring a pale peach slip that I might incorporate into a future costume. My rule is that if I am photographed, I have to be cool with my employer seeing it, so I'll never be very bare. Not that there is any shortage of folks who were willing to bare it all, though.

The afterparty was kind of a let-down for me, honestly, but I'm glad they have it. We just milled about for a bit, and then rode back to our dinner/parking spot in the Hill. Mostly, it was a celebration of gawkers and people who really like to be naked and/or drunk, but lost much of the context of the ride, and so lost the appeal for me. The only real downside, though, was that my rear light wasn't as charged as I'd believed, and died during the ride. In the future, I'll make sure the lights are fully charged the night before and leave them off for the ride - the sun didn't set until after our return, and in the middle of the pack, I had no need for lights to see or be seen during the group ride. Also, pack back-up lights.

Photo credit: My Hubs. S is drawing fabulous lightning bolts on M's arm.
Photo credit: Karen K.

In future bikey news, the Moonlight Ramble-STL is coming up on August 9, 2014. Unlike the Naked Bike Ride, where you can just show up, the MR requires preregistration and the deadline is this Friday, August 1, 2014. So sign up soon! I can't wait. It's a lot later (Midnight start) which might do me in, but I so enjoyed the big-bike-group dynamic on Saturday, that I'm looking forward to it. I may just sleep through church that Sunday...

If you prefer daytime riding, here are some upcoming group rides  in August hosted through B*Works and Trailnet:

Saturday, August 2, 2014 9:30am - B*Works Automobile Row Tour. From the event link: This tour visits several of the buildings from “Automobile Row” as well as other sites  of historic importance, including both the sole survivor of St. Louis’ first “private place” and perhaps the most overlooked literary landmark in the entire country. Free. Just show up!

Saturday, August 16, 2014, 10:30am - Trailnet I Love STL Bicrobrews Microbrewery Tour. From the event link: Several urban microbreweries are featured on this tour. Learn what it takes to craft a great brwe from some of St. Louis' finest microbreweries. Tastings and tours will be provided at many of the stops. Must be 21 to drink. $8 if you preregister online; $10 day of tour.

Saturday, August 23, 2014, 9:00am - Trailnet Old Frenchtown Bicycle Tour. From the event link: This ride explores two of St. Louis' most fascinating and historic neighborhoods, LaSalle Park and Soulard. Home to some of the Midwest's most interesting architecture, both of these 19th century neighborhoods retian the imprint of the various ethnic and religious groups that have lived and worked there. Both are also case studies in the effects of highway construction on the traditional city as well as models of late 20th century historic preservation and urban redevlopment. Preregister online or in person; $5 for adults and $3 for kids. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014, 9:30am - B*Works Old North St. Louis Tour. From the event link: Known for years almost exclusively as the “Crown Candy Kitchen neighborhood,” Old North St. Louis has experienced a remarkable renaissance in the past decade. This tour begins and ends at Crown but explores the entirety of a neighborhood that began its existence as an independent city with an unusual and  visionary urban plan. Free. Just show up! 

Personally? I am most interested in the Microbrewery and Frenchtown tour - I lived in Soulard for a bit while I was in law school and before the Hubs and I bought in the county. I was thrilled the WNBR tour cut through my old neighborhood, and went right by our old apartment near Broadway (7th) and Geyer. I would love to participate in the Old North Tour, too, but I'm not sure that will jive with some scheduling things for me. I love CCK, though, and would love to go!

These city tours are such a fantastic way to see parts of St. Louis you didn't know much about or maybe were reluctant to travel through alone or in an automobile. In particular, the Calvary Cemetery Tour (and its complementary second half, which will be hosted through B*Works in October) offered the great opportunity to ride to the cemetery through neighborhoods north of the CWE, which I haven't spent any time in during my 13 years in St. Louis. I so enjoyed the architecture and the positive interactions with the people who live there on our routes to and from the Calvary Tour. Cycling really erases so many of our differences and brings us together. It's another reason I love my bicycle.

If you have been thinking of joining us on one of these rides, I hope you'll jump right in (to reference the local music scene) at one of the August events. 

Cheers, and happy riding!


  1. Great recap (I'm working on mine for tomorrow). I agree on the after party (and I had the same thoughts last year). I'm thinking we should make our own post-ride plans for next year.

    1. Agree - if we find a good place to park/meet for dinner, perhaps we can prioritize them being open afterward, too, and could grab a table and drink there post-ride. Depending on the route start/stop, we could look at South Grand or someplace fun and funky with a great patio like The Royale.


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