If that isn’t enough warning about NSFW content, I don’t know what is.

This year we formed up in the parking lot next to the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was kind of interesting watching people bringing their families to the museum. Didn’t see a lot of shock and dismay, didn’t see anyone turn around and leave, but I did notice a few pointedly ignoring the commotion. If you wanted to avoid it, there was always the entrance on the other side. Others gawked and took pictures.

In the background, you can see downtown Los Angeles. We had a high of 90F locally around noon. The morning ride was hotter and twice as long as the afternoon ride and I elected not to go on it. In the afternoon it felt a bit cooler. A breeze from the Pacific (20 miles to the west) had kicked in and as the sun slowly dropped, shadows from the buildings kept us cool.

I think nudists have taken over this ride. Even though there was a rack of posters with bicycling slogans there weren’t any bicycling-related tables. This year we didn’t stop at the Spoke Bicycle Cafe for a rest and a bite. They’d indicated they would be too busy to take us in. (Hmmm…) But that meant no bathroom break at the halfway point, another strike against going on the AM ride.

Your intrepid rider waiting for the afternoon ride to begin. Then I got mixed up with some young people in a body painting booth… Actually, there were two booths. One wanted $20 for a paint job, the other was doing it just for voluntary contributions. That’s who I went with. Notice the knee brace? That’s from a knee injury I suffered back in January, yet another reason I didn’t do the 12-mile AM ride.

Along the ride, we ran into encountered a large Roe v. Wade protest coming in the other direction. We were probably 3/4 male and they were probably 3/4 female. They cheered us. We cheered them. While we were stuck at a traffic light, some of them ran through our group handing out flyers. They liked my body paint message.

When we passed the Federal court building there was a big demonstration there and they cheered us – right in the middle of someone’s speech. I hope they didn’t mind.

That’s Eli in the middle. She’s the body painter. Her friend in the green hair is Saturn and the braids belong to Saniayh. She’s a working professional in the movie industry and an artist and you can contact her via Instagram @eli_nerat and @Underland_creations_llc

I’ll say I saw more cheering and general support on this ride than on any previous one. Folks honking horns, waving, and shouting. Sometimes it felt like I was a ball player at an exciting home game. I think there is a growing acceptance of this as one of LA’s unique events. It probably does not transfer over to tolerance of individual freedom to be nude. Nudity appears to be ok if there is an excuse of some sort. A demonstration or maybe an artwork. That’s a lot better than nothing at all! 😁

Is this the same feeling gays get when participating in a gay pride event? We’re all naked and thousands of ordinary folks are accepting of that and even cheering us on? I’m surprised to say it but I felt validated and affirmed. (Validation and affirmation are not things I have grown to expect a lot of.) The only other place I really feel that emotion is the Bare to Breakers. Hanging out with other nude people at a resort is nice but there you expect support. Be nude in public and any support is optional.

Being part of a nude group in public is different from being individually naked in public and that in turn is different from being a nude hiker on a remote trail. I think it is good to be comfortable in all three situations but that’s just my opinion.

We avoided Skid Row. I had no idea that was the name of a real place.

I do try to scan the people on the street for reactions. There were also a few unhappy people, a lady shouting something vaguely religious, a homeless dude acting hostile, and a couple of people scowling or looking away. More than last year but they were still exceptions and only stood out because of their rarity.

I did not do any photography during the event. To be honest, there were moments when it was all I could do to keep my bike upright. When we were moving, I’d say typically it averaged about 6 mph. In some places, particularly up small hills, we slowed to the point I had to walk the bike. Too many bikes in too little space and too many riders behaving cluelessly.

Photography did not feel like a safe option and I haven’t managed yet to get permission to use anyone else’s photography. Instead, I’ll just end with this incredible video of downhill mountain biking in the nude.