Waihi Beach, March 2023
It was a very stormy night here on the Northern Hauraki Plains on the eve of the 2023 World Naked Bike Ride, due to kick off at 10:30 a.m. at Bowentown Park. In fact the wind and driving rain woke me up at 1:20 a.m. and I hoped the advice given by the nice folks at the Met office would prove to be accurate - that the front would pass by dawn and all would be well.
And it was! The 60 minute drive down to the event venue saw rapidly clearing skies and by the time I arrived at 9:30 it was a lovely sunny morning. Charles and Kelvin were already there and had the gazebo set up. All I had to do was to get the banner set up, rig the tailing vehicle with sign and flashing beacon, splash body paint on and sort out the sound trolley - this time to be towed by the electric scooter, as last time it proved a bit too heavy for a bicycle to tow.
I was slightly apprehensive about the scooter's range. The manu-facturer's specs claimed 15 Km. The WNBR route is 12.5 Km, but
Made it! And with battery to spare!
The ride itself took to the streets on time at 11:30 a.m. to the sound of Queen's "Bicycle Race", The Mixtures "Pushbike Song", Nat King Cole's "Bicycle Built for Two" and Shonen Knife's "Cycling Is Fun".and it was great to see a bit more effort by the riders to get into the spirit of the ride with placards and body-painted messages promoting the cycle-safety message. After all - this was never intended to be a nudist event. In fact, while naturists and other clothing-optional advocates try to avoid upsetting anyone with their lack of attire, this protest ride uses nudity as an intention to shock! Because the common excuse given by motorists who strike and injure - or even kill - a cyclist is that they didn't see the rider, the message of the protest event is, "If I take my clothes off and ride naked, I bet you can see me now!"
A notable improvement on the last ride in November was the lack of agro, derogatory remarks or negativity from the public. Not one! And there were also no problems or impatience from motorists as they passed the riders. Folks were out on their balconies and on the street watching the naked riders cycle past them. The shopping precinct on Wilson Road was also buzzing with bystanders cheering and waving. Matt, our videographer, managed to grab a few interviews on camera with some of the townsfolk. One lady remarked, "It made my day!"
After riding around the block, via Citrus Ave, Otto Road, and Snell Crescent, we headed back towards Bowentown along the foreshore roads and Island View Reserve, then taking the cycle trail back to the finish line. We arrived back at Bowentown Park on time and with no casualties. While numbers were down compared to last year, with only 20 riders, it was great to see several new faces - some riding for their very first WNBR event and even their first time being naked in a public space!
with pulling the extra heavy weight I wasn't so sure. Of course, if the battery did decide to die, it would likely be pretty close to the finish anyway. But as it turned out, the scooter finished the course with over half battery life remaining! I suspect the relatively slow pace and almost flat and smooth course worked in its favour.
Keith leads the way . . . and we're off!
"It made my day!" said the lady pointing.
After packing down the venue site, it was time for some lunch, a swim, relaxation and socialising across at the beach under a nice warm sunny sky.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in the event - both riders and support crew.
Thanks also to Matt, who superbly captured the event on video. You can watch it on our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVnwjHpXPHo
We'll be back for the next one on 16 March 2024. Plan to be there!
If you've never done a WNBR before, you really should give it a go!