The Gateway City’s most unique, and eye-opening, two and three-wheeled joyride returns this Saturday for its perennial cycle.
For local bike buffs, consider this the “Tour de Nu.”
The eighth-annual World Naked Bike Ride – St. Louis takes place in the city’s Grove neighborhood beginning with a pre-ride gathering that begins at 5 p.m. in front of the appropriately-named HandleBar (4127 Manchester).
Then at 7 p.m., the 12-mile ride launches (slowly) and proceeds along Manchester, Tower Grove, Arsenal and Cherokee into Soulard and continues northbound along Seventh and Fourth streets into downtown. Backstretch paths on Washington, Olive and Vandeventer finishes the trek.
According to organizers, the lone equipment requirement in order to participate is a helmet. A bike with a light is also encouraged.
And yes, true to its namesake, clothing is optional. Perhaps more accurately, the spoken rule is to show up “as bare as you dare.”
In past years, some take “au natural” quite literally…both top and bottom.
Last July, in blazing temperatures that could have potentially created the worst of saddle sores, the seventh installment had close to 3,000 pedalers, which landed St. Louis third, behind Portland and Philadelphia, in participation out of the 70 cities nationally that held a World Naked Bike Ride.
“We took the ride to a whole new level last year and are excited to build upon that momentum again this year,” said ride organizer Tatyana Telnikova in an official statement. “The overwhelming support by our riders, spectators, partner organizations, businesses, business districts and the City of St. Louis has grown the ride tremendously. We look forward another great event for St. Louis this year.”
Don’t look at this merely as an unbridled, butt-naked breakaway or a disrobed dash of debauchery. Per its mission, the spin raises awareness in cyclists’ rights and vulnerability on the road, advocates a positive body image and protests oil dependency.
Written messages, displayed both on bikes and bodies, are seen by curious, and supporting, spectators along the route. The event drew over 8,000 visitors, both dressed and quasi-dressed, to the Grove neighborhood last year.
“The ride is putting St. Louis on the map as a bike-friendly, environmentally and globally conscious, creative and inclusive city,” continued Telnikova.
At the conclusion of the jaunt, which ends back at the HandleBar starting point, a post-ride after-party (and cover up) begins at 8:30 p.m. along the Grove.
There is neither a pre-registration nor a cost to participate. In short, show up and…mmm…show off.
Saturday’s high temperature is projected to be 96 degrees. That might be warm enough for everyone to strip to their skivvies by the time the unclad odyssey begins.
For more information on the World Naked Bike Ride – St. Louis, go to wnbrstl.org.