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Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2019 – We Are Nature

24 Jul 2019

In 2019, the Brighton Naked Bike Ride teamed-up with climate emergency activists Extinction Rebellion to campaign under a joint banner: “We are nature“. The World Naked Bike Ride has always been a protest against global oil dependency. Now the situation is critical, yet still world leaders refuse to act. I headed to Brighton.

Preston Park prepares

The ride’s usual mustering place, The Level, was hosting Brighton Vegan Summer Festival, so this year we would start from Preston Park. I arrived to find a compound already occupied by bikes and naked people. On entry, I was issued a long bean pole flying a green Extinction Rebellion flag, plus a bungee ball for fixing it to my bike.

12:10pm in Preston Park: the Extinction Rebellion Choir

After dropping my bike in a clear spot near the compound entrance, I went walkabout. At the far side I found a body-painting tent where an activist asked if I would like to be decorated. Of course! I gave her a free hand to apply any motif. Next, I chanced upon Scotty H – yesterday official photographer at the London ride, today a lot barer.

1:03pm in Preston Park: back to back with Scotty H.

It was great to see Scott, but I was surprised not to find more friends from the London rides – albeit there were many familiar faces amongst the ever-increasing mass. With the 1:30pm start time looming, I grabbed a quiet moment to snack on a sandwich and then we were off; pushing away slowly from the grass onto an outer pathway.

1:33pm in Preston Park: rolling out to start the ride

1:39pm leaving Preston Park: along the western flank

1:41pm leaving Preston Park: a pause before we hit the roads

We’re all going to the seaside

We exited Preston Park at its southern tip and angled briefly northwards again, along Stanford Avenue before commencing a rippled road trip south towards the coast: first along Beaconsfield Road, then London Road, turning left into Oxford Street, right into Ditching Road, and tracing the west side of The Level to St Peter’s Place.

1:44pm on Stanford Avenue: onto the streets

1:46pm on Beaconsfield Road: beneath the viaduct

1:54pm on St Peter’s Place: facing Phoenix

The colours were magnificent. Extinction Rebellion flags flew in every hue, along with huge images of the globe, handmade banners and slogans, the rainbow flag of Pride, plus all kinds of body-painting and accessories. On we went: a right turn at Richmond Place, then continuing down Grand Parade, Pavilion Parade and Old Steine.

1:56pm on Grand Parade: a bemused resident gazes down

2:00pm on Pavilion Parade: passing the Royal Pavilion

2:01pm on Old Steine: arriving at the seafront

West to Hove Lawns

We’d been bathed in warm sunshine whilst gathering in Preston Park, but by the time we reached Brighton Palace Pier and turned right at the roundabout, grey clouds had come over, temperatures dropped and we were at the mercy of fresher sea breezes… although these were still as nothing compared to the biting winds of 2017’s ride.

2:02pm on Grand Junction Road: “Brighton’s Best Views”

2:09pm on Kings Road: runner and riders

2:12pm on Kings Road: selfie on arriving at Hove Lawns

After cycling a little over two kilometres along the seafront we arrived at Hove Lawns. Here we dismounted and took our first break. It was no longer a day to get a tan but I was content just to sit on the grass till we were ready to move again. We’d had about 20 minutes’ downtime before I noticed tell-tale signs of an imminent departure.

2:22pm on Hove Lawns: time for a break…

2:36pm on Hove Lawns: …then off we go again

The big loop back to town

Exiting Hove Lawns, we continued west along Kingsway for almost another kilometre before swinging right onto St Aubyns. Here we tarried a while so the whole ride could regroup before heading east, back towards town. As we compressed within this quiet residential street, the spectacle of our colours became even more striking.

2:45pm on Kingsway: the western extreme of the ride

2:48pm on St Aubyns: a pause as we regroup

We returned to the town centre via Church Road, Western Road and North Street, all of which are merely run-of-the-mill urban shopping streets, yet people cheered us the whole way. At the Jubilee Clock Tower we turned south – down Ship Street, Prince Albert Street, Bartholomews, Little East Street – briefly reclaiming the seafront.

2:51pm on Church Road: starting the long ride back to town

2:55pm on Church Road: the swerve onto Western Road

3:02pm on Western Road: nearing the centre

3:09pm on North Street: at the Jubilee Clock Tower

3:11pm on Ship Street: buskers #1, outside the former Holy Trinity Church

Next stop, Old Steine Gardens

For less than a minute we were on Grand Junction Road, revisiting the roundabout in front of Brighton Palace Pier before hooking back round onto Old Steine and hanging an immediate sharp right into Old Steine Gardens. Here we would take the second of our rest breaks. Unlike at windswept Hove Lawns, the atmosphere was carnival.

3:14pm on Grand Junction Road: a brief return to the seafront

3:15pm on Old Steine: flying my green Extinction Rebellion flag

3:16pm on Old Steine: arrival at Old Steine Gardens

While Phantom LIMBS played live and naked riders cavorted in the fountain, I took a seat on the grass. To my great delight I was discovered by Cy – a fine friend and high priest of London’s naked bike ride. We’d both observed that whilst London’s is still the mightiest ride, Brighton tops it for youth, vibrancy, gender mix and overall hipness.

3:18pm in Old Steine Gardens: our second rest break

In and out North Laine

We stayed at Old Steine Gardens for about half an hour before leaving via St James’s Street – going north on Old Steine itself, past the Royal Pavilion and continuing along Marlborough Place into Gloucester Place, until a left turn at Gloucester Street fetched us into the North Laine district. Here we were in narrower, livelier territory.

3:48pm on Old Steine: the North Gate in view

3:49pm on Marlborough Place: by Ye Olde King and Queen

3:53pm on Gloucester Street: entering the North Laine

A right turn into Sydney Street, a left turn diversion into Gloucester Road then another right at Robert street; right again a short way along North Road where a swift left sent us down Jubilee Street. These are lively lanes even on quiet days, so the appearance of innumerable naked people on pushbikes merely added to the festivities.

3:57pm on New Road: buskers #2, adjacent to the Pavilion Gardens

Kemptown traverse

New Road, North Street and Castle Square carried us back to St James’s Street then back across Old Steine Gardens. We continued on St James’s Street into Kemptown, one street leading seamlessly into another: Upper St James’s Street, Bristol Road, St George’s Road – about a kilometre and a half in total.

4:01pm on St James’s Street: starting the long ride east

4:06pm on Bristol Road: swinging up to St George’s Road

It has to be admitted this is probably the least interesting stretch of the ride, although pockets of non-participants did occasionally show enthusiastic support. Nonetheless, as the euphoria dipped a tad, I had time to bag a once-traditional shop window selfie. At the end of the line we swung south on Eaton Place, down to Marine Parade.

4:07pm on St George’s Road: selfie in window of Bo Style

4:10pm on St George’s Road: turning down towards Marine Parade

4:11pm on Marine Parade: in it for the long run

To the nudist beach

In close parallel to the seafront once more, our destination was within sight: Brighton Nudist Beach. We continued east on Marine Parade then took a sharp hairpin turn to freewheel down the steep descent of Duke’s Mound before another sharp hairpin put us on low-lying Madeira Drive: the home straight.

4:13pm on Duke’s Mound: freewheeling down the gradient

4:15pm on Madeira Drive: the home straight

Our finish line was the entrance to Black Rock Car Park. I crossed it around 4:17pm, two and three-quarter hours after setting out from Preston Park. Wearily, I rested my bike against the rails and kept a watch for old friends but none materialised. Instead, an Extinction Rebellion activist came by to reclaim their flag; I was sad to lose it.

4:17pm at Black Rock Car Park: finished!

4:19pm at Black Rock Car Park: “WE ARE NATURE”

The final act of the ride is a skinny dip at the beach. It hadn’t been an especially cold day, but such was the cumulative effect of nippy sea breezes that I felt more inclined to get dressed than get in the English Channel. It had been a marvellous experience, however, and much stronger for the inspired partnership with Extinction Rebellion.

4:24pm at Brighton Naturist Beach: a chilly dip for the brave

Our route from Preston Park to the nudist beach

More on WNBR Brighton 2019

WNBR is a worldwide campaign that demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists and protests against car culture. Its linked objectives are to:

  1. protest against the global dependency on oil
  2. curb car culture
  3. obtain real rights for cyclists
  4. demonstrate the vulnerability of cyclists on city streets
  5. celebrate body freedom

Bygone blogs

Previously on the Brighton Naked Bike Ride:

From → Causes

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