PORTLAND, OR – Oregonian’s Steve Woodward has hopped aboard today with multi-media coverage
of the WNBR. He’s reporting 800 riders.
Riding cheek to cheek Not for naught nor for naughtiness do 800 cyclists
pedal naked, but rather to do the globe some good
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Naked was the fashion Saturday night, and bikes were the luxury vehicle of
About midnight, with only the glow of streetlights draping them, an
estimated 800 men and women pedaled madly across the Hawthorne Bridge into
downtown Portland, up Northwest 23rd Avenue, down West Burnside and back
into Southeast Portland in what has become an annual Portland tradition: the
World Naked Bike Ride.
Whooping and honking bicycle horns, the riders drew waves, cheers, laughter,
camera flashes and favorable comparisons to Portland’s “other” parade that
very morning. Gawkers abandoned drinks and poured out of bars. Teenagers
leaned out of a white stretch limousine to offer riders high-fives.
According to reports from bikers, some spectators even joined the ragtag
parade, shedding clothes and hopping on their own bikes.
What’s the occasion? The bare facts: Since 2004, Portland-area bicyclists
have participated in a global event in which riders showing more skin than
not ride in public to protest oil dependency. Their nakedness demonstrates
bicyclists’ vulnerability to cars.
Last year, the Portland event drew about 500 “naked” bikers, the largest
such ride in North America, according to organizers.
“Portland is just a very great place,” Erin Downs, a 17-year-old Northeast
Portland high-school student, said at the warehouse party after the ride.
“I want to be part of Portland,” she said, dressed in blue hair, a blue
kerchief and two studded leather belts slung low. “This is the life, blood
and veins of Portland. If I didn’t show up, how could I be a Portlander?”
“I expected more naked people,” said Mick Arrell, a 19-year-old Southeast
Portland man with red, blue and green paint smeared randomly across his
chest and arms.
It’s true. Many people stripped only as far as their skivvies.
“I didn’t strip down at the request of my roommate,” explained Jimmy
Schmierbach, 25, of Northeast Portland. “She said she didn’t want to look at
His roommate returned the favor, riding in her bra and panties.
Although she was wearing frilly orange underwear with blue trim when
interviewed, April (“like the month”) Wiza said she was less modest during
“All the good parts were showing,” said the 27-year-old Southeast Portland
Wiza also displayed a poetic message for anyone behind her: “LESS GAS MORE
(rhymes with ‘gas’).” The hand-painted message included an arrow pointing
readers to her (rhymes with “gas”).
On the blocked-off street outside the Organics To You warehouse party after
the ride, several men had added ties to their birthday suits. One woman wore
nothing on her chest but a red Superman logo. “Green power,” declared a
man’s back. One woman dressed provocatively in cheap black lingerie — cheap
because it was painted on.
Unlike many riders, friends Eric Miller, Kyle Kelley and Robin Jackson were
fully dressed in something other than facial hair: Miller in natty beret;
Kelley in full-on pink-and-maroon ensemble, complete with pink, feathered
skateboarder’s helmet; and Jackson in black fedora, dark pinstripes and
red-and-white checkered vest.
Miller launched his ride with a figurative fig leaf or two to preserve his
“I started out not all the way,” Miller said, “but I was feeling it.” And,
apparently, if one is feeling it, there’s naught to do but shed the remains
of one’s modesty — even in the middle of the Hawthorne Bridge.
“It’s nice to let go,” said Jackson, an erstwhile Naked Bike Rider and a
member, with Miller, of Portland’s Marchfourth Marching Band.
Actually, Jackson was dressed during the ride, too.
“I was hanging out with my parents,” he said sheepishly.
Steve Woodward: 503-294-5134; stevewoodward@ news.oregonian.com