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London Naked Bike Ride 2022 – Back in the Pack

26 Jul 2022

The eighteenth London World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) was to be my twelfth. I had started the last seven from Trinity Square Gardens at Tower Hill, even volunteering to lead the pack as an official WNBR London marshal for the last four. Now I needed to reboot my love of the ride, have a fresh start, and reimmerse with the masses.

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR)

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

As per last year, the ride had eight different start points. I opted the one farthest from the centre. At 11:35am, Saturday 11 June, I wheeled my bike off a Southeastern train at West Wickham station. Still clothed (at least for the time being) I cycled southwest down towards Addington, to number 233 Shirley Church Road; the Croydon start.

11:44am on Wickham Road: a new beginning

When I entered the vast secluded grounds, I found naked people in various stages of preparedness. Some were body painted, one was a work in progress, others awaited their turn. And me? I found a private corner of garden, undressed, opened my tube of Kryolan liquid brightness, and made myself… well… more noticeable.

Addington to Croydon centre

A few minutes past 1pm, after a pep talk from our ride leader, we set off. I reckon our group numbered just twenty-five, so at this stage it felt more like a small regional ride than a London epic. We began semi-rural: Shirley Church Road, Upper Shirley Road and Shirley Road, then across the Croydon tram tracks on Addiscombe Road.

1:04pm on Shirley Church Road: off we go!

1:14pm on Shirley Church Road: to Upper Shirley Road

1:24pm on Addiscombe Road: crossing the tram tracks

To avoid accidents, our route was designed to stay away from tram lines as much as possible; Addiscombe Road was one of only two encounters. We continued south on Chepstow Road, west on Fairfield Road and Barclay Road, back south on Park Lane and St Peter’s Road, west on Aberdeen Road, and (ironically) north on South End.

1:28pm on Chepstow Road: Fairfield Road ahead

1:34pm on St Peter’s Road: right turn to Aberdeen Road

1:37pm on South End: north start

Croydon to Streatham

South End was the beginning of our long ride north, not only into central Croydon but also pretty much all the way to Lincoln’s Inn Fields. We passed seamlessly onto High Street then, just before it became pedestrianised, headed right onto Katherine Street. A left at Park Lane (again) took us to our second and final crossing of the tram lines.

1:40pm on High Street: through central Croydon

1:43pm on Park Lane: oh, did I mention? I’m silver!

Leaving Croydon behind us, we embarked on a naked tour of south London suburbs, starting with Thornton Heath, Norbury and Streatham. In bright sunshine and good cheer, we made our way along Wellesley Road, St James’s Road, Hogarth Crescent, Whitehorse Road, High Street (Thornton Heath), Parchmore Road and Green Lane.

2:00pm on High Street: at Thornton Heath clock tower

2:08pm on Green Lane: residential interlude

From Green Lane we turned right on the A23 – Streatham High Road, which became Streatham Hill. The lead riders and support riders were doing an absolutely excellent job keeping us all together and threading us safely through the major junctions. More than anyone, they deserved our rest-stop when it came, at Christchurch Road.

2:25pm on Streatham High Road: into Streatham central

2:40pm on Christchurch Road: silver smile

Tulse Hill to Vauxhall

Our break lasted little more than 5 minutes. but after an hour and a half in the saddle, it was much appreciated. When we resumed, Hardel Rise led us onto Tulse Hill, and Norwood Road took us in to Herne Hill. On Dulwich Road, I waved and whistled The Prince Regent pub, where I’ve life modelled for SketchPad Drawing since 2015.

2:52pm on Dulwich Road: The Prince Regent

Next we took to Brixton: Brixton Water Lane, Effra Road, St Matthew’s Road, Brixton Hill and Brixton Road. Cheering, waving, tooting car horns, cries of astonishment and occasional covered eyes or muttered disapproval followed us everywhere. We cycled under the ‘Stay in Peace‘ painted railway bridge, then went left into Stockwell Road.

3:02pm on Brixton Road: Stay in Peace

3:04pm on Stockwell Road: the O2 Academy Brixton

Stockwell and Vauxhall were our last south London districts before the Thames. We passed through on quieter roads: Clapham Road, South Lambeth Road, Parry Street and Wandsworth Road. After two and a quarter hours’ naked bike riding, the Croydon crew finally reached the river… at MI6, which had probably monitored us all the way.

3:16pm on South Lambeth Road: into Vauxhall

3:18pm on Wandsworth Road: at spook central

We crossed the river via Vauxhall Bridge. At the north end of the bridge, while waiting for red traffic lights to change I glanced left and was astounded to see a line of naked bike riders waiting to merge with us. I guess they started at Kew Bridge and Clapham Junction. Was this a coincidence or brilliant coordination? Let’s say the latter.

3:22pm on Vauxhall Bridge: eyes left for more naked riders

Millbank to Forum Magnum Square

After cycling more 25km as a small posse of just 25 nude bodies, we suddenly found ourselves absorbed into a much larger group. Now, truly, I was ‘back in the pack’. We headed north on Millbank, passing Tate Britain, but only as far as the next crossing; Lambeth Bridge took us back south. We’d tasted just 10 minutes of north London.

3:27pm on Millbank: me and Tate Britain

3:32pm on Millbank: south so soon on Lambeth Bridge

We exited left on Lambeth Palace Road then continued to where Westminster Bridge Road curves south around the Park Plaza Hotel. Here for the first time I found myself on highways familiar from participation in bygone London rides. Addington Street and York Road took us to Forum Magnum Square; already an ocean of flesh and bikes.

3:38pm on Lambeth Palace Road: now we are many…

3:44pm at Forum Magnum Square: …and now we are huge

Here the splinter groups from all eight start points would gather before proceeding as one. It was also a chance to suspend my anonymity in the herd and catch up with old friends. Marshals tend to gather at the north end of the square, so I threaded my way yonder and duly found Cy Wol and Natansky, who’d marshalled from Tower Hill.

3:46pm at Forum Magnum Square: hunting for friends… – © Notts Naturist

3:51pm at Forum Magnum Square: …caught by Cy Wol… – © WNBR London

3:53pm at Forum Magnum Square: …selfied with Natansky – © Natansky


After about fifteen minutes’ rest at Forum Magnum Square, during which time the last start group arrived (Regents Park, I believe, having needed an unexpected detour for roadworks), it was time to get back on the saddle. Despite having quit as a marshal, I still couldn’t resist booming out that it was time to get moving again. Always on duty.

3:56pm on Belvedere Road: leaving the square

4:02pm on Concert Hall Approach: WNBR London legend, Cy Wol

4:04pm on Concert Hall Approach: WNBR London legend, Natansky

We exited by the usual means of Belvedere Road and Concert Hall Approach. I didn’t know at the time but the passage from Forum Magnum Square to Lincoln’s Inn Fields was the only section of the entire route that would be a repeat of my previous London rides. Crossing Waterloo Bridge, we passed dozens of ride-savvy photographers.

4:06pm on Waterloo Bridge: panoramic photo – © Michael G Spafford

4:08pm on Waterloo Bridge: group photo – © Ian Press

4:09pm on Waterloo Bridge: super close-up – © Stuart-Lee

Aldwych to Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Roads may have been familiar but not all the sights were. For example, the Christian Orthodox priest at Aldwych denouncing everyone as shameful, or the naked guy who had a dog in his backpack. We continued: Lancaster Place, Strand, Aldwych, Strand, Fleet Street, Chancery Lane, Carey Street and Serle Street, to Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

4:13pm on Aldwych: hey, a dog in a bag!

4:15pm on Strand: clouds over the Royal Courts of Justice

4:20pm on Lincoln’s Inn Fields: Inn we go

I arrived at our designated corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields with Cy, but immediately lost sight of him. During the next half-hour I found no other familiar faces but was greeted by people who recognised me from past rides, or my life modelling, or even this blog! Here was downtime. While some danced, I just wandered, sat on a wall, snacked.

4:34pm at Lincoln’s Inn Fields: can you see me? – © Ðariusz

4:36pm at Lincoln’s Inn Fields: a view from a wall

4:38pm at Lincoln’s Inn Fields: on my perch – © a_rider


At 4:47pm, we began the final leg of the ride. Our destination was Wellington Arch as per previous years but our route there would be new – Covent Garden is always best avoided and The Mall had been closed since the Platinum Jubilee. From Newman’s Row and Lincoln’s Inn Fields we exited via Sardinia Street, turning left on Kingsway.

4:51pm on Kingsway: Bush House ahead

4:53pm on Strand: flags for QEII’s Platinum Jubilee

4:56pm on Strand: by Charing Cross Station

At the end of Kingsway we turned right onto Aldwych (no denouncing priest this time) and then Strand. Here, we made painstaking progress through traffic and traffic lights to the last red lights before Trafalgar Square. Somehow I’d drifted to the front, yet as the riders ahead disappeared from view, I realised I had no idea where to go next…

4:57pm on Trafalgar Square: near the front of a group… – © Ian Hollaway

4:58pm on Trafalgar Square: …and then suddenly I’m leading – © Ian Hollaway

Wild West

This was a genuine problem. I took a punt at leading us up Cockspur Street and then to Pall Mall, but it was anyone’s guess from there. No riders nearby had a clue either, so there was only one option: I dashed back down Pall Mall to find a marshal. Luckily marshal Joe wasn’t too far distant. I explained the situation and he scooted up front.

5:01pm on Pall Mall: about-face in search of a marshal – © Photographic Detail

It makes a huge difference when the person leading the way actually knows the right route. Certainly I never would have guessed to turn: right at St James’s Street, left at Piccadilly, right at Dover Street, left at Hay Hill, right and left around Berkeley Square into Fitzmaurice Place, right at Curzon Street, bursting out gloriously on Park Lane.

5:06pm on Pall Mall: back on track at St James’s Palace

5:10pm on Dover Street: a detour from Piccadilly

5:15pm on Curzon Street: a Piccadilly parallel

5:17pm on Park Lane: nearly there!

Wellington Arch

Park Lane led to Piccadilly and Duke of Wellington Place, at last. From Addington I’d cycled 35km to: Croydon, Thornton Heath, Norbury, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell, Vauxhall, Millbank, Lambeth, Waterloo, Strand, Aldwych, Charing Cross, St James’s, Mayfair… a whopping 4 hours 20 minutes, for this ultimate goal.

5:19pm on Duke of Wellington Place: end’s in sight

5:20pm at Wellington Arch: crossing the finish line – © Boutique_Studio

Ride organisation and marshalling from the Croydon start had been truly exceptional. We enjoyed warm sunshine all the way, got an overwhelmingly positive reaction from passers-by – even motorists – and each convergence with other groups was spot-on. For me, barring a brief disengagement at Trafalgar Square, it was a superb WNBR.

5:24pm at Wellington Arch: packing away – © Hedyelyakim

I didn’t stick around long at the end – I didn’t fancy the afterparty and I certainly didn’t have enough energy to join the hardcore group riding back to Croydon. Instead I was happy to catch-up with friends again – Chas, Nat, et al – and say farewell for another year. Thanks, London; thanks, WNBR team. You didn’t miss this old ex-marshal. 🙂

Our route from Addington to Wellington Arch

More on WNBR London 2022

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