Repeated: WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE (potentially Not Safe For Work photo at top of that page).
Explanation added: An annual tribute to biking, always show-y by sheer dint of it BEING DONE NAKED BY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, made more political this year by what's happening in the Gulf of Mexico which is making more and more of us think about how much oil we use and how to try to use less, but also a chance to RIDE NAKED. Since surfing naked is, despite the T-shirts, less likely to work.
Position in my mind last night: Far, far back. I was only vaguely aware of it. I was more aware that I wanted to go out for a late dinner at the food cart pod at SE 12th and Hawthorne, and yes, this is already going in the direction you think it is.
I actually had an errand I could run at 11 at night on a Saturday, enough to justify in my mind driving first to a library to drop off materials (in a drop box, because no, our libraries aren't open THAT late) and then tooling over to that pod and partaking of food. I'd kept meaning to go back there; I'd had a catfish po-boy at one of the carts, and I'd gone once to the big-celebrity cart at that spot, Potato Champion, but why not spread my experience and my money further?
And I didn't yet know that anything unusual was headed my way until I was heading east on Belmont towards 39th...and saw cop car lights. And cop motorcycle lights. My first thought: Police activity? Accident? Okay, better turn off the main road. Which I did, going a block south to keep going east towards the library, and looking north at each road and seeing more cop vehicles, and something's starting to click in my mind...
...but it doesn't fully click until I pull off of 39th and park and grab the book and the DVD I needed to return and I start hearing THIS APPROACHING ROAR of hooting and chanting.
And the bicyclists passed.
I repeat: THOUSANDS OF RIDERS. The event organizers' goal was to best last year's total of 5,000 riders, fully or mostly naked -- exceptions being lingerie, balloon hats, capes, makeshift pasties, G-strings like the riders were characters in Achewood, and reflector vests, with the guideline being "as bare as you dare" -- and this year's ride may, may, have beat that. (One claim is that they not only had more than 10,000, they may have had 13,000. That's still waiting to be confirmed, denied or revised, sounds like.) I ran up to the Belmont-39th intersection, with some bikes cutting the corner through the Arco/AM PM station there so I have naked cyclists zooming by to my left, right, fore and ass, I mean aft, and made it across the road during a brief lull in the number of riders so I could get over to the library. Then I waited EVEN LONGER to get back to the west side of 39th, so I could get back to my car and continue to the food carts. I probably was surrounded by naked bicyclists for 15 minutes, and when I crossed the street, THEY STILL WEREN'T DONE PASSING. Figuring (correctly) that the ride would continue down SE Hawthorne, I zigzagged through neighborhoods between Hawthorne and Belmont -- seeing naked biking stragglers even along there -- until I parked a few blocks away from the carts and walked to the pod.
Guess what place was a Naked Bike Ride meetup area?
This pod, already a busy place weekend nights, was also busy with naked people. Most of the people who stopped Naked Bike Riding then started getting back into clothes they'd brought along in backpacks, but quite a few stayed naked or topless or otherwise not fully dressed and started getting in line with the rest of the crowd to order food. Yeah, I can understand being hungry at that point. (I also was very aware of HOW COLD MY HANDS WERE. I was not shaking people's hands or high-fiving for fear of making them shiver!)
I ate. I boggled. I ate some more. I boggled some more. I had a pulled-pork savory pie from Whiffies, a horchata to drink (sweet rice milk; NOT a euphemism for anything, you sickos) and a pork taco, because I like tacos and (as you can guess) I like pork. I headed back to my car, and then home, ever more certain of my heterosexuality and continuing to boggle that this happened and, for the first time, I'd seen it in person.
And I didn't mention: IT WAS KIND OF COOL LAST NIGHT. As in cool weather. I was thinking warm thoughts on behalf of the naked people. And to keep from feeling cold myself!
All right, some of you are probably wanting evidence that this actually happened and wasn't cooked up in my mind. Twitter user Brandon, a.k.a. Another PDX Blog, snapped this shot on Hawthorne near 38th, across from the Fred Meyer. (That's blurry, blurry enough to be Safe For Work.) The Portland Mercury posted this morning the blog entry "Tweeting the World's Largest Naked Bike Ride," and also linked to this -- definitely Not Safe For Work -- Flickr photo collection from last night.
Again again: WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE. Freddie Mercury would've been proud.