I am going on an adventure—riding my bike in Philadelphia—on September 9, 2017.
No big deal, right? Where’s the adventure? Philadelphia is fairly normal as cities go, mostly flat I am told (at least in the part where I’ll be riding), with many interesting sights.
But I am not going on just any bike ride. I will be riding with hundreds of others for the ninth annual Philly World Naked Bike Ride.
Yes, I, and hundreds of others, will be riding bikes in Philadelphia without wearing clothes. And others will be riding with some clothing—it is a “bare as you dare” event.
I love being naked. I recently spent four days at The Woods, an LBBT-friendly clothing optional campground in Pennsylvania, and I reveled in being naked OUTDOORS all day every day. I spend most of my days at home writing while naked (Jonathan likes me to wear a t-shirt when he’s around, so I do that in the evenings and weekends). I wish I could be naked outside in our yard.
What is the point of this event?
Organizers claim it is part of a global movement to promote fuel conscious consumption (ride your bike more, your car less), positive body image (every body is beautiful), and cycling. World Naked Bike Rides happen in many places each year. London’s version is famous, and there are others in Britain and Europe, but many people say Philadelphia does it best in the U.S. Of course, in parts of Europe public nudity is accepted as normal.
Fuel conscious consumption is a way of focusing on how we use energy—so we can reduce our demand on finite natural resources and do our part to preserve the planet for future generations. Can we walk more, and ride bikes more, and use public transportation more often?
Positive body image is, for me, a deeply spiritual issue. As a Queer theologian who sees the divine in all creation, I value every single human body (as a vegetarian, I also seek to value the bodies of other species). Mine is 70 years and counting, definitely not muscled and hard, with body parts that many would not rate highly.
Indeed, for years, I did not value my own body, especially my genitals which are small. Taking my clothes off whenever and wherever I can has helped me feel a new affection and gratitude for the body I have been given, and even to validate myself for taking care of it. Of course, I could exercise more, eat less, lose ten or twenty pounds, tighten my abs, build my shoulders and biceps—but overall I am in pretty good shape for a guy in his elderhood.
The good news is that the World Naked Bike Ride, no matter where it is, encourages and celebrates all bodies. Going to Philadelphia this year is a spiritual pilgrimage for me, just as holy as going to church, going on retreat, praying by myself and with friends.
And I am glad to promote cycling. Deciding four months ago to go to Philadelphia pushed me to buy a new bike and start riding. I have been riding two or three times each week since early July in Greenbelt where we live. Riding for an hour or so—up some hills as well as down and on the flat—is a time of centering and joy, as well as some good exercise. I feel better for riding. I wish I saw more cyclists on the streets. In Philadelphia, I imagine our nakedness will draw attention, and that may help encourage a few folks there to get on their bikes.
And who knows, maybe reading this post will encourage you?
I even have room on my bike rack for a second bike, so feel free to let me know you’d like to join me in this adventure. Or meet me in Philadelphia!
I encourage comments, as always (and if you are interested in joining me in Philly, you can write me at RevDrRobin@comcast.net ).