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London Naked Bike Ride 2012 – Into the Light

13 January 2017

My first London Naked Bike Ride was in 2009, my second came in 2011, and 2012 was my third. Like my blogs for those first two rides, I’ve written this fond recollection in early 2017. When 800 would-be nude cyclists gathered at 3:30pm on 10 June 2012, it was by Wellington Arch – traditionally our finish. We made an impressive spectacle and could make a clean start, but were again easy pickings for voyeur photographers.

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Anticipation at Wellington Arch

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Clothes off, ready to go

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Pure class

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The procession down Piccadilly

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Around Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain at the Circus

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In the pink at Trafalgar Square

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At the National Gallery – it’s a Naked Planet

It was a nice sunny day and a joy to be on the road as we made steady, if somewhat staccato progress along Piccadilly, then down to Trafalgar Square. I’d undertaken my first life model booking only a month before and whereas on earlier rides I’d hidden my face, this time I swapped my scarf for a loud whistle; I was nearly out as a public nude! We went on: Whitehall, Westminster Bridge and south to Waterloo Bridge.

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Emerging from Parliament Street

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A glance back from Westminster Bridge

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On Westminster Bridge, sans scarf

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Pedal power on Concert Hall Approach

Our staccato opening had become increasingly stop-start, with an emphasis on stop. Later I learned that organisers were deliberately halting us at frequent intervals all the way round so we would stay together as a group rather than become fragmented like last year. It meant we had more time to enjoy the sunshine but also made the overall ride rather frustrating as we could never build momentum.

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Law abiding citizens outside the Royal Court of Justice

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Another pause, on the way to Ludgate Hill

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Natansky… before we knew each other

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Slow progress at St. Paul’s

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A poser strikes, outside the cathedral

As in 2011, we went as far east as St. Paul’s Cathedral before turning and taking our time to reach Lincoln’s Inn Fields for an even longer stop. From there we meandered through the back roads around Covent Garden and beyond, to Trafalgar Square. Still we were stop-start, stop-start but we usually encounter good-humoured crowds here so it wasn’t so bad. Certainly we brightened the afternoon of one hen party.

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Westbound on Holborn

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Shop window selfie on High Holborn

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Hen party in Great Queen Street – they couldn’t be happier

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The thronging of Long Acre

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A familiar figure amid the throng

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Back at Trafalgar Square

South around Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch, and on to The Mall; I always take particular pleasure in coasting along The Mall with complete naked freedom yet even here we stuttered. It was frustrating but I don’t blame the organisers – they had to make a call, and on this occasion it wasn’t quite right. But they are all volunteers, doing it to protest car culture and celebrate body freedom. I, for one, am grateful.

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Underneath the arches

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Music-maker on The Mall

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7:12pm, journey’s end

And so we completed our circuit at Wellington Arch. It was past 7pm when we made it back, after three and a half hours on the go; a lot longer than 2011. This year’s ride also had one more starting point than last year, as a feeder ride comprising 12 bikes and a scooter set out from West Norwood. There would be multiple start points in all the rides that followed – and I haven’t missed a year: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

I hope that all the while I’m able to pedal, I will continue to be part of the magnificent part-protest, part-celebration that is the phenomenal… London Naked Bike Ride.

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