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THE LONDON RIDE PAGES - 2006 Ride Report




2006 Business Cards that advertised the ride.

Here's a ride report from Jesse Schust (of the 2006 London Ride Planning Collective) -

Extraordinary weather boosted numbers and we ended up with a lot of people. Really. Really really a lot. When the ride started, we were able to make an accurate count. The official counters got 692 and 695 as their figures, so we left with very nearly 700. The ride steadily grew, accumulating various riders along the route. Leaflets were given out and lots of people had signs on their bikes and bodys. People had flags, decorations, foliage and body-paint. The whole feeling was magnificent - and people we passed seemed to grasp our pro-bike, pro-body, pro-fun, anti-oil, anti-car message.

Our oldest participant was 84 - Marguerite "Gran" Elsley of York. She participated in last year's ride when it was too cold for her to take any clothes off, but this year she had the opportunity to ride as clothes-free as she wished. Here's something she said "I'm now a fit and healthy 84 year old, and I love being free from the restrictions of clothes. I also revel in living a car-free life. By remaining very active, I benefit from the pleasure that always follows exertion."

The police helpfully blocked off traffic and made our progress much faster than it would otherwise have been. The cycle-mounted police were very pleasant to ride with, and they didn't interfere with the pace and quality of the ride at all.

When we arrived back from the ride, the numbers were impossible to count as people streamed around the Wellington Arch and walked there bikes out onto the lawn. There were 574 riders who passed through the Arch. We always gain a significant portion of riders during the ride itself, and this year was no exception. As an accurate count wasn't possible, I've ventured a guess assuming that this year's gains were comparable to those of previous years. On this basis, I can say... we are confident that we returned with at least 800, but it seems likely that we had up to 900 riders upon our return. The police bid us farewell, and for the next hour, people enjoyed a clothing optional space at Wellington Arch. By then people started to disperse fairly quickly, though some people stayed undressed until 8pm.

We did a remarkable thing today, and everyone seemed to realise this from the very start of the ride. It was a pleasure to ride with all of you.

Last year, we made history by being the largest nude protest event in British history. We had 250 riders at the end of the ride.

This year, we easily exceeded our predicted turnout of 350 riders. We made history by having many more riders -between 800 and 900 at the ride finish. The largest ride that ever happened before this was an unbelievably huge ride of 400 riders in Zaragoza, Spain!

Here's a side note about numbers. Although numbers can indicate the level of support within an area, it's important not to focus too much on the numbers. There are different advantages to rides of every size. Any ride that has more than 120 riders will easily attract riders because it feels big, relaxed and individuals don't stand out unless they want to. The smaller rides are wonderful too - with rides up to 35, you can actually meet all the riders if you want to. There are two main ways to judge the success of a ride -
1. Did all riders enjoy the ride?
2. Did they feel the ride did what it intended?
I'd say that the London ride was a success in these terms.

If you enjoyed the ride, please consider getting involved with the ride planning collective in London. Although the ride has a significant number of female participants, the collective could do with some more females. Even though meetings are 8-12 participants, there hasn't ever been more than 2 women at a meeting. Please help to change this. It would be great to see gender balance or even a period of imbalance to more women than men.

If you don't live in London, perhaps you can follow the examples set by York, Manchester and Brighton - create a local planning collective and create a ride nearer to you. It looks like there is growing interest in both Cardiff and Swansea at the moment, and it's been too long since the Edinburgh ride of 2004. See you next year!

London Ride Planning Collective

To see some photos of the ride, visit our photo page (we'll be adding to this in the next few weeks).

A photography message board discusses the controversy over our photography policy:

This is the banner we used for 2005.