San Francisco:Ride Report 2011 06
Some photos to go along with this ride report will be added a bit later
Ride Report by Jim Z.
Getting to the Ride
Jeff and I rode from Baker Cliffs to Justin Herman Plaza. I stripped naked after we passed through Fort Mason. I got several laughs and giggles from bystanders as we rode on. Jeff informed everyone with his commanding voice that the World Naked Bike Ride was happening at Justin Herman Plaza today. I did it visually with the WNBR banner on my bike. However, the strong, cold winds were pushing my WNBR banner sideways and I had to stop more than once to fix it while Jeff kept going. I ended up riding naked by myself to the delight of most bystanders. But, when I almost reached the ride start point a police car drove up and I stopped. The lady officer made me produce my driver's license and called it in. I explained that I was naked because we were doing the naked bike ride that we had been doing for 8 years with up to 100 other people. She asked when the ride was starting and where we were going. I provided some fairly vague responses like in about an hour and all over town. At that, the officer returned my license and let me continue on my way completely naked. Several people were already undressed before I arrived after the delay caused by my police encounter.
At the Assembly Area
The number of participants was about half what is was last year mostly due to cold, windy weather. As usual, the majority of riders were naked guys with a half-dozen semi-naked gals. A few of us including myself went barefoot as well as naked. (We had special petals installed on our bikes to allow for barefoot riding.) One nudist lady with a dark tan went completely naked as she had done last year. The professional body painters we normally have couldn't make it, so a few folks brought some supplies to fill the void. One of them painted "Naked and Free" on my chest. A few others were painted with slogans like "Burn fat not oil" and "Solar not oil" but the majority didn't get painted at all. However, one guy came fully painted from head to toe as a tiger. He said the process took about 4 hours and it looked really great. Several people were there to support us by going naked at the ride start point but didn't join us on the ride itself, including one black couple.
No On-the-Ground Media Coverage
Unlike previous years, there was no direct news coverage of the event, not even in the SF Weekly. Instead the SFWeekly covered a Yahoo forum discussion a few days earlier about whether pedestrians should participate or not. And to prove the point, the naked black couple (mentioned above) walked with us as far as they could before we left them behind. We met them again on our return from AT&T park while they were still doing their walking version of the SF WNBR. In addition, one of the riders who had the misfortune of getting two flat tires walked naked down Columbus back to his car parked near the ride start point without incident and almost without notice much of the time. Apparently, nudity in San Francisco is so common that it's just a part of the landscape these days.
Leg 1, Loop 1 to AT&T Ball Park and back
The ride started right on time at 12 noon. 60 or 70 riders started the ride by doing several loops around Justin Herman Plaza for the benefit of photographers which is a SF WNBR tradition. One guy rode around on a unicycle. A giant bunny greeted us just as we were heading out of the plaza. We then headed past the Ferry Buildings and down the Embarcadero to AT&T ball park to meet the crowds going to the Giants game. We received lots of whistles, cheers and honks along the way. Many SF Police were doing traffic and crowd control but we were not hindered in any way unlike the April 23rd ride where we were diverted to a less travelled street. At ATA&T ball park we got more cheers and whistles as we rode along the promenade behind the stadium. Several riders chanted, "Go Giants! World Naked Bike Ride." We did another pass around the front of the stadium on King St. before stopping near pier 40 for a little while.
Leg 1, Loop 2 to The Palace of Fine Arts and back
Ride along the Bay to the Marina
We proceeded pass the Ferry Building again but we lost several riders at that point due to the chilly winds and we were down to about 50. Then we proceeded by Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf doing an extra loop around on North Embarcadero before resting briefly at Aquatic Park. The cold 30-40 mph winds coming off the bay with the blowing sand stinging our feet didn't allow us to linger for very long. I put on my sweat shirt at this point and some others put on wind breakers but many braved the cold winds by remaining completely naked. We continued. The ride around Fort Mason wasn't too bad but when we reached Marina Blvd. the 30-40 mph cold head winds were not only cold but also made it seem as if we were riding up hill. For the most part everyone was just struggling to keep going and we didn't do as much hand waving or chanting of slogans that we usually do. Several cars on Marina Blvd. gave us approving honks. When we arrived at the Yacht Club area where we normally take group photos with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, we instead, sought the relative comfort of a couple of buildings shielding us from the strong winds. One of the buildings was a public restroom that many of us used. I parked my bike against a fence but the winds blew it over more than once knocking over another bike. Several riders had enough at this point and headed back. We took a group consensus on whether to do The Crookedest Street in the World or not, and the consensus was to skip it this year.
Through the city back to Justin Herman Plaza
Those that remained continued to the Palace of Fine Arts just long enough to take a few photos, but that stop was also unusually brief, largely due to the unpleasant cold winds. We proceeded onto Hwy 101, the main artery from the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. We took up the entire right lane and rode in relative comfort as the winds were now behind us and it was bit warmer as we were now further inland. I removed my sweat shirt and was again riding completely naked. We took a right on Van Ness, then passed by the Octagon House on Gough but we decided not to stop as planned. We then crossed Van Ness to Polk and rode to Pacific so we could ride over the Broadway overpass to be seen above by traffic. But, we didn't take into account that the overpass had concrete walls on both sides and the traffic below wouldn't see anything anyway. At this point, we deviated from the planned route and went back to Polk instead of Larkin and rode all the way to Bay St. and then to Columbus bypassing most of Russian Hill.
The ride down Columbus was fairly comfortable and we got lots of cheers, giggles, laughs, car honks, whistles and thumbs ups along the way. As we were stopped at one red, one lady across the street yelled, "Right On! I want to do the ride next time! Is it monthly?" We yelled back telling her we do it once a year and to visit the World Naked Bike Ride website. We also got the occasional, "Put some clothes on!" remarks. We decided not to stop at City Lights Books and kept going pass the Transamerica Pyramid and back to The Embarcadero to start the 2nd leg of the ride. Several more riders dropped out and we were down to about 25 riders.
Leg 2 to Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Parlor
As we headed down Market Street, the response from the people and cars on the street was good and some of the riders chanted, "Burn fat not oil!", "World Naked Bike Ride," "Get on your bikes and ride naked!" We did one loop around Union Square. One of the people who saw us at AT&T ball park was surprised to see us again downtown several hours later.
Stop a City Hall
We proceeded down Market with a side trip to City Hall. At City Hall a professional photographer, (Al at Foto Rebel XT that I had brought in to document our ride), took some group photos of us on the steps of City Hall.
Then a couple drove up in a restored meter-maid cart and played the "Can Can" for us. Some of the naked riders danced to the music while Al took more photos. The guy body painted as a tiger entertained the couple in the cart with some funny poses. Daniel tried to get the lady in the cart to undress and dance naked with us but she said with a big smile, "I don't have the balls to go naked here."
Ride to Ben and Jerry's
A number of people decided to leave the ride at this point and we were down to about a dozen riders. As we continued down Market, the cold winds were really picking up and the temperature was definitely dropping into the 50s making the ride fairly unpleasant. Along Market we lost several more riders. Of the 9 or 10 riders left, we decided that we needed to shorten the planned route a bit and skip the Panhandle. But, we decided that the Ben & Jerry's stop was still a good idea. Along the way, a bystander asked us if it was getting too cold to ride naked. We responded, "Yep and we are going to eat ice cream to be even colder." They had a laugh at that. Instead to taking Duboce we continued on Market to Sanchez possibly because we missed seeing Duboce for some reason. We did the wiggle to Haight and headed straight for Ben and Jerry's.
Ice Cream Stop
We dismounted our bikes just outside Ben & Jerry's. One rider watched our bikes as half dozen of us went inside. There were no issues going inside the parlor naked. One of the riders offered to buy ice creams for anyone who was naked. A couple of gals inside thought we were pretty cool (in more ways than one.) One of the gals admiring our family jewels said, "You guys look so comfortable with your dicks hanging out." As we got our ice creams, the two gals took photos of us with their cell phones. I went outside with my ice cream but it was too cold and windy even with a sweat shirt on. So, a couple of us went back inside to eat our ice creams in the relative warmth of the parlor. The two gals inside took more photos of us while we ate our ice creams.
How the Ride Ended
Once we finished our ice creams, a police officer pulled up and told us we were being disrespectful going naked where children might see us. Daniel, the ride coordinator, told the officer that was a very weak argument and there was nothing wrong with simple public nudity. The officer countered with "You don't have kids do you," and basically attempted to tell us that we don't understand what it's like to be a parent. (I almost stepped in to tell the office I was a parent with two daughters but I didn't.) The rest of us started dressing anyway as it was just too cold and windy to remain naked. After the officer drove off, Daniel dressed as well. But, the officer drove by again to see that we were dressing and kept going. At that, we decided to end the ride. About half the riders rode back to Justin Herman Plaza while the other half went in various other directions.