Madison

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Home > List of rides > US > Madison - Google this ride!

Don't forget your sunscreen!

That's all you'll need to wear!

Oil independence and body acceptance are the big ideas, and we plan to embrace them across a good distance of the city.

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Note that the start location will be made available only to members of the Yahoo! group.

For details specific to the Madison WNBR, see this FAQ.

Next ride

Date: June 15, 2019
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: TBA

We are scheduled for one week after the Chicago ride, to avoid conflict for those who might like to participate in both.

History

2018

We started promptly at 11:00 AM and rode for 2.25 hours. Our official count was a maximum participation of 144 riders with about 87 percent fully nude and a male/female ratio of 80/20. This once again edges out our attendance record for a new high.

We hadn't fully checked the route in advance, so there were a few unanticipated minor problems. The section of Blair that we traversed was local traffic only, all gravel and torn up. Those on bicycles had little difficulty, but our skateboarders presumably had to get over onto the sidewalks. Later, as we crossed Regent on West Washington, road construction made it necessary to go through the crosswalk instead of the street.

Our regulars and newbies once again came from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. The farthest we know of that anyone traveled this year was from Cleveland.

The big news was the heat. It was a hot and humid day, with a high into the nineties, the least comfortable weather we have ever had. In addition to the twelve-packs of seltzer that I usually bring, I brought along seventy bottles of water, and all had been drunk by the time we started. As it turned out, there were a few who were unable to complete the route, dropping out somewhere within the last mile (our thanks to those who stopped to help them). There was also at least one who had to spend some time resting after finishing. It is our hope and belief that all were able to recover from any heat-induced malady by the end of the day.

The route was once again similar to those of previous years, with a concentration on areas where people were likely to be out and about. We got lots of positive reactions from bystanders. I was, however, a bit amused by the woman on State Street who I noticed covering her toddler's eyes.

Hoping for more comfortable weather next year, we look forward to another glorious ride in 2019.


2017

As of the previous Tuesday morning, the weather forecast had been looking promising. As the days passed, however, the prognostications became increasingly daunting. Friday night, it was looking pretty much like a coin toss whether we would have a dry comfortable day for cycling. As it turned out of course, after Friday night thunderstorms, Saturday was beautiful. Even the rain that was predicted for that evening never bothered to show up. At the ride start, the temperature was 75 degrees with a relative humidity of 79 percent and an overcast sky. It seems likely that the iffy forecast contributed to the moderate decrease in our numbers over last year. Our estimate was 126, still an excellent turnout. While we failed to get a count of the gender balance this year, post-ride photographs would seem to indicate that it was pretty good, not too skewed toward the male.

We started right at 11:00 AM, and rode for 10.5 miles during 1.75 hours. As mentioned below, we had kept a watch on the ongoing construction on the square. There was just one block of it that made it necessary to make a slight detour. It seemed fun that it took us past the county jail and the central division MPD. There was also some road construction right at our start / end location, which made for a local-traffic-only zone. We had to go on the sidewalk a little and endure some gravel covered terrain. Of the few things people complained about, that was not among them.

The route was similar to those of previous years, hitting the major locations where people were likely to be out and about, and cruising some of the busiest streets. Participants all seemed to have a great time, and we are sure we will have another wonderful ride in 2018.


2016

We started at 11:11 AM and rode for eleven miles, returning a little over two hours later. It was 81 degrees and sunny, with a relative humidity of 38%, not oppressively hot, but certainly warm enough to be glad to be naked. The clear sky did make the use of sunscreen more important than it had ever been in previous years. Our official participation estimate was 142, up somewhat from last year, continuing the trend of increasing numbers from one year to the next. Over half were fully nude, with most of the rest top-free. In addition to our locals, and semi-locals (from Chicago and Milwaukee), we were joined by riders from the Twin Cities, the Quad Cities, and as far away as Missouri and Ohio. We had been contacted by a man who said he would be visiting from New Orleans, but don’t know if he actually rode.

The route was negotiated with little difficulty, the worst being the road construction on the square, which prevented us from riding on about one fourth of it. We knew about that in advance, however, and dealt with it smoothly. One of our regulars from out of town remarked that, “Next year that should be cleaned up.” blissfully unaware that it was just the first part of a two-year project. If the timing of it doesn’t work out better in 2017, we will just deal with it again.

We had publicized James Madison Park as the official viewing area, and we got there about one minute before our ETA. I almost laughed out loud when I saw all the people running with their cameras to the lakeshore from the edge of the park along Gorham Street. They either paid no attention when we announced that we would go through the park on the bike path, or didn’t realize that the path runs along the shore.

As usual, we relaxed and celebrated together for several hours following the end of our beautiful foray. There was much beer drinking and posing for photographs. One of our guests from Chicago later gave us a link to a site on which he had posted many shots he had taken. This was the first time we were at a location right on one of the lakes, so some got to engage in some discreet skinnydipping.

We must mention the action of our new friend Jayson from Chicago, who was apparently the only one alert enough to help attend to a medical situation that arose early in the event at the tail end of our formation. We are deeply indebted to him for doing what needed to be done, and for making us aware of the need for a change in protocol for subsequent rides.


2015

As predicted (see below), it was great. We have long been hoping to get our numbers back up to those of our first Madison WNBR in 2010, and now we have surpassed that figure. There were as many as 131 of us at our peak. That included 70% fully nude and a female participation of 36%.

There was some rain that started about an hour before our starting time, which ended soon enough that we were not affected by it. There was also a cloudburst later in the afternoon, but the weather was quite sufficiently courteous to allow us a dry window for the event. Under overcast skies, the temperature was 67 degrees with a relative humidity of 79% and moderate winds. That is the coolest we have had yet, but it was still very comfortable for cycling.

This is getting to be like an annual reunion of old friends. It's great to see those who return year after year, many with us since the beginning. It's also wonderful to share the excitement of those on their very first naked ride. Our travelers seemed to come from pretty much the same places as in previous years. The guy from Long Beach, California was back a second time, so he must think we are doing something right:)

The route was 12.4 miles, which took about 2.25 hours to complete. Of our major targets, the spectator turnout at Memorial Union Terrace was disappointingly low. We attribute this to the apparent fact that a performance of the Isthmus Jazz Festival, which had been scheduled there, was relocated to its indoor rain location. We encountered enthusiastic crowds at State Street and the farmers' market, with much waving and cheering and smiling, and a few high-fives. I am not aware of any report of a single negative reaction from any bystander.

It all went beautifully. We are all eager for next year's ride.


2014

Hooray! We once again had a significant ridership increase over the previous year. Our official estimate is a peak of 88 participants. As usual, that includes some who joined in along the route, perhaps as many as ten this time. We had about 80 percent fully nude with most of the rest topfree. The gender balance was about 75/25, favoring the male (we need more women involved!).

The weather was once again beautiful. It was cloudy with a temperature of 72 degrees, 78 percent relative humidity, and southeast winds at 8 miles per hour. A slight chance of afternoon rain had been predicted, and it did occur, but had the courtesy to wait until just after we had finished the ride.

There was a mix of locals, Chicagoans, Milwaukee area people, and a few from places like the Quad Cities, Des Moines, and even a Californian. I was a little disappointed, though, when the California guy admitted that he had not come to Wisconsin specifically to join us:)

The route (see below) was estimated at 13.1 miles, but ended up being a bit longer due to a detour necessitated by construction on Johnson Street that had not been taken into account. We hit our three major targets, Memorial Union Terrace, State Street, and the Dane County Farmers' Market at the Capitol Square. We figure these spots to be those where the biggest crowds are to be found mid-day on a Saturday. We had no problem riding through the union terrace this time. We were there at about 11:36, and I noticed that the first band of the second day of the Isthmus Jazz Festival was getting ready for its noon performance.

We seem to have made some inroads into becoming part of Madison's mainstream culture. There was a listing on the website of Madison Parks Calendar of Events as well as a mention in the weekly e-newsletter of the Dane County Farmers' Market. We don't know how they got there.

All aspects of the ride went smoothly. At the end, we returned to the starting point for much socializing and celebrating. Our 2015 WNBR is going to be great.


2013

Turnout this year was slightly up from last, with an estimated 62 riders, 75 percent fully nude with most of the rest topfree. The male/female ratio was once again 70/30. Locals were pleased to welcome travelers from such exotic climes as Milwaukee, Chicago, Moline, St Louis, and Des Moines.

Skies were partly cloudy with 70 degrees, 76 percent humidity, and southwest winds at 7 miles per hour. I would have thought it was warmer, as it felt quite comfortable. The cloudiness seemed to be an advantage, as I got no sunburn despite applying no sunscreen.

It went smoothly, with all the usual encouragement and cheering from spectators. If there were negative reactions, I wasn't aware of them. The one unexpected hitch came at Memorial Union. We had been led to believe that the lakeshore path there would not be open this year due to construction, but a rider mentioned that it had recently opened. After a rather awkward alteration in the planned route, we approached the Union Terrace, only to be told by MU staff that we couldn't ride nude there. I have no idea whether this employee just took it on her own authority to turn us away, or if she was acting on instructions from management. That location had been part of the route for each of our three previous rides, and there had never been any negative consequences. We need to look into this.

We proceeded from there to finish the route (see below), including the well-frequented sidewalk cafés along State Street and the Dane County Farmers' market on the square. Then we headed back along the major thoroughfare of East Washington Avenue to our starting point for the usual celebration with champagne and beer as well as grilled brats.

It was altogether a resoundingly successful ride, inspiring us to look forward to 2014.


2012

It was a dark and stormy night.

Oh no, wait, it wasn't that at all. It was eleven in the morning, mostly cloudy, 73 degrees, and 81 percent humidity. There had been about a thirty percent probability of scattered thunderstorms predicted throughout the day, but we never saw anything of that. I recall briefly sensing a light mist sometime earlier in the day, and it sprinkled on us for a minute or two toward the end of the ride, but let up by the time we were done. There was not much sunshine while we were out, but it was easily warm enough to be gloriously naked in the elements.

Our official count was 58 participants (including two legal observers), 30 fully nude, and a male/female ratio of about 70/30. It might seem a little daunting that in the three years we've been doing this, our turnout has decreased each time. I did notice, however, there seemed to be fewer spectators out and about compared to last year, so perhaps the weather and other factors made for fewer folks in the great outdoors anyway. But enthusiasm ran high, with many proclaiming to have had the time of their lives, and vowing to return next year, and again and again. We were pleased and flattered to host folks from such distant climes as Milwaukee, Chicago, Moline, and Cleveland.

As before, the route included the major targets of UW Memorial Union Terrace, State Street with its sidewalk cafés, and the Capitol Square during the Dane County Farmers' Market. This was the first time that we took two laps around the square; it had been part of the planned route in 2010, but fell the way of mice and men that time. I think most had fun with the extra turn, and we will probably make it a tradition. So aside from those three areas, the rest of the route was pretty much a leisurely ride around town with most of the audience consisting of motorists.

As in 2011, our pre-ride contact with police was minimal; we let them know the event was approaching, and we let them know where and when. If they're happy with that, so are we. On the day of the ride, they made no contact with us regarding it, so we may surmise that either they received no complaints, or they fended off any complaints as frivolous. So we are thrilled that on our third foray, we got through it with no disorderly conduct citations, down from 11 in 2010 and one in 2011.

We are looking forward to another great WNBR in Madison in 2013.


2011

All right, it wasn't bigger and nuder, but it was pretty darn good. We had as many as 67 riders, with over 50% fully nude. These stats were down from last year, but not too disappointing given that nobody knew exactly what to expect from the Madison Police Department. They had announced that they would take the same position as last year, which to me meant that they would probably shut us down sooner and more efficiently. So I was actually a little depressed when I gave the signal to start, feeling as if I were leading the lambs to the slaughter.

We left right at 11:00 AM, June 18, under scattered clouds with a temperature of 76 degrees. It all went surprisingly smoothly. We did the whole route, just a little under ten miles, without incident of any kind. We were resoundingly well received by thousands of onlookers at our three major targets, State Street, Capitol Square (during the Dane County Farmers' Market), and the UW Memorial Union Terrace. There were also lots of motorists honking their approval along the way. We made the loop back to our starting point and had a great celebration with champagne and beer.

But that was when the police arrived. They said they had a complaint (according to the video I saw, just one!), and needed to take action, so they asked for a volunteer to be ticketed. The man who raised his hand was someone I knew, who in fact had told me during the ride that he was hoping to get ticketed. We are not sure what his agenda is, but we are confident that he will contest the charge and win. Of the ten riders who received a total of eleven tickets last year, there are still seven whose cases have yet to be resolved, and we are optimistic about those too [All pending charges were dismissed as of early August, 2011.].

So as well as it all went, we are very enthusiastic about planning for 2012.


2010

Wisconsin's first-ever World Naked Bike Ride started shortly after 11:00 AM, June 19, 2010, under a mostly sunny sky and a temperature of 77 degrees. The mood was decidedly joyous and festive. Peak participation is estimated at 115 (take that, Los Angeles!), with about 80 percent fully nude. Most were from Madison and nearby, but there were some from Milwaukee and environs, and a significant contingent from the Chicago area.

Police had been invited, and their presence was felt throughout. For the most part, they were kind, courteous, and helpful. However, about a third of the way into the 11-mile route, between seven and ten riders were stopped and ticketed for disorderly conduct (ordinance violation). It is worth pointing out that this is about the least infraction with which the police could charge us, not a crime, but more like a parking or jaywalking ticket. It didn't come as a big surprise, as we had been given a somewhat vague warning shortly before. I was among those cited, as was a female on the organizing committee. The majority of those cited were female. All are encouraged to contest it in court.

So the ride continued, minimally clothed. I was able to catch up, as I think others also were. My spirits were dampened a bit at having to wear briefs, but we finished the route in a celebratory fashion, with many continuing to celebrate with a Champagne toast and lots of beer. Others chose to head out to Mazo Beach (the local nude beach).

It was gratifying to see how well everything fell into place. Aside from the arrests and subsequently having to dress, it was just perfect. The consensus was, of course, that we need to do it again next year. And we will, but bigger, louder, and nuder.


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