Wow, what a thrill – incredible.
Well we all knew there was a chance we’d get the badge for the coldest World Naked Bike Ride event this but with all the glorious weather in the week leading up to Edinburgh’s ride on Saturday we were almost fooled to think the weather was going to be with us.
Well, at least it didn’t rain.
But there was quite a chill in the air and the die hard among us did not get phased. The message about the ride – to protest against car culture and highlight the vulnerability of cyclists on the road – had been spread far and wide and 100s if not 1000s of people certainly knew about it but we did wonder if anyone would turn up on what would be deemed a cold winters day in some countries. But no this is June and this is Edinburgh and for those of us that live here our 10°C (50°F) came as no surprise.
We met at the Meadows – infamous for being one of Edinburgh’s premiers green spaces on a beautiful sunny day – the park was empty. But our small band of soon to be mostly naked (genitalia covered due to difficult and archaic legal issues in Scotland not familiar to other parts of the world) began to build. Who strips down first is always an interesting question but when a rider turns up already to go it is essential to strip down immediately in support. Before you knew it we were looking naked and cold but with all the excitement it didn’t really matter. We were happy, we were united, we were about to make a bold statement in Edinburgh.
After a good while getting our selves adorned with body paint – artistic flowers, protest slogans – we got going. Our route had been carefully designed to make sure we’d take in many of Edinburgh’s major sites and maximise our visibility and the impact of our message. Many of use ride in big groups around the city centre to promote cycling as an alternative means of transport with Critical Mass in Ednburgh every month and we normally get a lot of attention, especially since we have several sound-systems and we assert ourselves as peacefully as possible on the road where we have as much rights to be as cars.
But we don’t normally get attention like we did on Saturday – beautiful. The ride took about an hour but with all the excitement it seemed to go much quicker. Particular favourite moments were heading up the Royal Mile where everyone and his/her dog seemeed to have some electronic device pointing at us to capture a not so ordinary day on the Royal Mile (here’s a short video that has since surfaced). But Princes Street was pretty fab too. But wherever we went we got attention – happy hoots from bewildered motorists, cheers from on lookers – some of us were even lucky enough to have some fun interaction with the public (personally I welcomed a wee bum squeeze from a passing member of the public).
And then before we knew it we were back in the Meadows – and the realisation of just how cold it was dawned on us. A few cheers and gratitude to those that orgainsed and led the ride, as well as for the support of each other throughout the ride, and then a quick group photo shoot, and then of course there is nothing like a group hug to warm the spirits.
Not the warmest but certainly the most fun – and the hottest…oh yeah…few pictures of the day below but more can be found here.
So what next – this was not a one off event – most of us cycle every day and we are not happy with the way cars dominate our cities and we have to make ourselves vocal about this. So let’s keep getting out on the bikes day-to-day but also let’s remain connected via our cycle activism and take the time to cycle in large groups. Many of us who organised the World Naked Bike Ride in Edinburgh participate in Critical Mass which happens every last Friday of the month in Edinburgh (next ride on the 26th June). Critical Mass is an international cycling movement is at heart a bike celebration but also attempts to reclaim the roads by riding in a large group to make cycling more visible (FAQs about Critical Mass). Come and join us and be amazed.
And for those interested in promoting better attitudes towards out bodies there is the #freethenipple campaign (psst…we did quite well with nipples equality on our ride), which is about obtaining equality with regard to toplessness, and there is international topless day on the 23rd August.
Let’s make change happen in our hearts and souls and then soon we’ll it before our very eyes…thank you for your support…