Bowentown / Waihi Beach, Saturday, November 19, 2022
From ten days out to the 19th of November, the date of the inaugural World Naked Bike Ride at Waihi Beach, the weather for the ride started to be a concern.
My consolation at the time was that the forecast at that time was based on computer modelling and notoriously inaccurate. Still, as in other countries, the intention was to ride come rain or shine! Because we had riders coming from as far as the South Island and Whangarei, cancelling at the last minute was not an option. The ride would go ahead as planned, and during the final week leading up to the event I started fielding a number of calls from weather-conscious riders wondering if it was still on.
Of our 61 registered riders a fair number decided to play it safe and stay home. Taking into account those who had volunteered as crew, those who had contracted Covid-19 or other illness, those who ended up having to work, and those who had to pull out for various personal reasons, we ended up with a final tally of 32 naked
cyclists taking the WNBR message to the folks of Waihi Beach. Fortunately, the weather gods were in a good mood and fine weather prevailed. Participants gathered at 10:30 a.m. to begin applying body painted slogans, set up placards, and pose for photos.
One small glitch during the start of the ride was with our music trailer. Prior to the day I had taken it for a test run along the highway in front of our farm, serenading the cattle, and it had seemed to tow well despite the weight, but it proved a little too heavy for Bryan to tow at the same speed as the other cyclists.
I had envisaged the procession through the shopping area accompanied by the sound of Queen's "Bicycle Song" and The Mixtures "Pushbike Song", but it was not to be. We will certainly revisit that idea for the next ride and tow the trailer with battery power!
It was a huge bonus to have the skills of our official photographer, Blair Hinton, to record the event for us with quality images. Based in Wellington, Blair has covered a good number of naturist events in the past, and was the ideal person to approach for this project.
We also received coverage from award-winning Stuff visual journalist Christel Yardley, who won "Best community portrait, feature or lifestyle" photograph in the News Media Awards in 2018. Christel is based at the Waikato Times in Hamilton and her pictures of the bike ride featured on page 8 of the Tuesday, November 22 edition.
Another of our supporters, Coromandel FM, promoted the event during the hour leading up to the comencement of the ride at 11:30.
Driving the rear traffic control vehicle, it was awesome to observe the enthusiastic response of bystanders waving from their balconies and the clapping and cheering of onlookers as the riders moved through the shopping precinct at Wilson Road.
Sergeant Nigel Sanderson of Waihi Police reported just two calls to their office enquiring about the legality of the event and was happy to enlighten the callers. And Elle Reid, Events Specialist at Western Bay of Plenty District Council, has not received any adverse correspondence regarding the ride.
This is in stark contrast to the uproar that happened at Papamoa some eight years ago when just a handful of riders attempted to.
establish the WNBR event by riding down the beach at low tide.
An elated group of cyclists arrived back at the assembly area on schedule, just before 12:30 for a few more photos before packing up. The plan was to head over to the beach for lunch, but the weather was simply not pleasant enough for enjoying a picnic on the sand, so we called it quits at that point and went our separate ways, some looking forward to the forest hike the following day.
But that's another story!