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Brighton Naked Bike Ride 2022 – On a Roll

29 Aug 2022

After there’d been no official World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) in the UK during 2020 (just an unofficial one) and many rides were delayed in 2021, WNBR London finally returned to its traditional second Saturday of June in 2022. The following day, WNBR Brighton did likewise; reclaiming its second Sunday slot. We were back on a roll.

I went by train from London Bridge to Preston Park station, then cycled to the nearby eponymous parkland – the ride’s starting point. On the way I popped into Sainsbury’s for a sandwich, and there chanced upon Natansky with friends Anthony and Roberto. What luck! The trio had travelled from London together, and I now joined their group.

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

Park life

We entered the start enclosure around 12:45pm, with the ride due to begin at 2pm. It was a glorious sunny day. Many people were already naked, both within and beyond the fencing. I left it relatively late to strip-off and, unlike at London, went without body paints on this occasion. My skin can only take so much post-ride scrubbing.


12:54pm at Preston Park: base camp


1:40pm at Preston Park: clothes off


1:55pm at Preston Park: Nat, Anthony, Roberto and me – © Natansky

Preston to Pavilion

Despite the novelty of having a digital countdown clock attached to the fence, we still somehow managed to be a few minutes late getting away. No problem, of course; we simply savoured our anticipation a little longer. Eventually, at 2:06pm, a section of the enclosure was rolled back and our fabulous flood of flesh flowed forth.


2:07pm at Preston Park: we begin


2:10pm at Preston Park: give us a wave!

Our route down to the coast was a familiar one. From the top of Preston Park, we set off in a steady procession anticlockwise on the wide pathway around its perimeter. At the southern end we waited for a couple of minutes as usual, gathering our numbers, ready to hit the streets en masse.


2:14pm at Preston Park: clean as a whistle


2:15pm on Stanford Avenue: to city and sea

At 2:15pm we made our move, turning left out of Preston Park onto Stanford Avenue, before a rapid right put us on Beaconsfield Road. Coasting smartly downhill, we soon passed beneath the towering railway viaduct then went left at The Hare and Hounds into Viaduct Road itself.


2:16pm on Beaconsfield Road: under the bridge


2:17pm on Beaconsfield Road: haring down Viaduct

A right turn at the end of Viaduct Road put us on Ditchling Road heading towards the seafront. The gentlest of doglegs at St Peter’s Place and Waterloo Place took us into Richmond Place, Grand Parade, Pavilion Parade and Old Steine. Everybody had felt such ecstatic joy here at last year’s post-lockdown release. Now I felt… contentment.


2:21pm on Ditchling Road: less gas


2:25pm on Pavilion Parade: looking back – © Mr Konehead


2:26pm on Pavilion Parade: parading past pavilion

Beside the seaside

Whilst we’re a popular presence all around Brighton, the biggest cheers always come as we exit Old Steine and tack right at the roundabout in front of the pier. Sunseekers and funseekers are out in force, lined-up in rows to spectate our extraordinary flypast and offer raucous appreciation as we gleefully soak up the extra attention.


2:28pm on Old Steine: end of the pier show


2:28pm on Grand Junction Road: police escort


2:33pm on Kings Road: i360 fly-by

From the pier, our ride followed the coastline westwards along Grand Junction Road, Kings Road and Kingsway. As ever in Brighton, police outriders (clothed) stayed with us, halting all westbound motor vehicle traffic so our part-protest, part-demonstration, part-celebration could proceed in safety. Thank you, Sussex Police.


2:38pm on Kingsway: westward Hove


2:40pm on Kingsway: end of part 1

Downtime

At 2:40pm, we left Kingsway for a break on Hove Lawns. This was our one chance to abandon the bikes and relax, snack, socialise, use the loos, or go walkabouts. I often find that bracing breezes make it quite chilly here, but today was nice. Our little group went down to the lawns’ sea-facing edge and bagged a few photos… ever the posers.


2:44pm at Hove Lawns: out of the saddle


2:52pm at Hove Lawns: body positive! – © Natansky

Alas, Natansky had to leave us here before the ride continued – domestic duty called her back to London. As we got underway again at 3:15pm, someone spotted Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, taking photos of us from between two parked coaches. “Get your kit off, Norman!” went the cry as we resumed on Kingsway, up to St Aubyns.


3:16pm at Hove Lawns: off again


3:22pm on Kingsway: big smile into St Aubyns

Hove to Hall

St Aubyns takes us north up to Church Road, where a right turn sets us on course for our return to the city centre. Church Road leads to Western Road, which in turn leads to North Street, taking us past shops, cafés, bars, buses and pedestrians. In fairness, many people just carry on their day regardless, but even more stop and applaud.


3:27pm on Church Road: back to the centre


3:28pm on Church Road: still smiling


3:36pm on Western Road: don’t mind me

Weirdly, from North Street we turn south along West Street. This leads us all the way back to the seafront at Kings Road, but only briefly as we take the next left up Middle Street. A right turn puts us on Duke Street, which slides down into Ship Street, where we fork left on Prince Albert Street and Bartholomews, passing the Town Hall.


3:39pm on Western Road: North Street next


3:44pm on Ship Street: backseat driver


3:45pm on Bartholomews: peace, love, happiness

Lanes loop

Little East Street took us to Grand Junction Road for a final glimpse of the pier before we looped north on Old Steine, around Old Steine Gardens, and back past the Royal Pavilion. We went left on Marlborough Place, passing the pavilion’s North Gate, and then north again, making our approach to The Lanes along Gloucester Place.


3:48pm on Old Steine: pavilion reprise


3:49pm on Old Steine: left to Marlborough

Our passage through the narrow Lanes always begins with a left turn into Gloucester Street, and ends with a freewheel descent along Jubilee Street, but otherwise seems to vary each ride. This year’s in-between Lanes were Gloucester Road, colourful and chaotic Kensington Street, and a snippet of North Road.


3:53pm on Gloucester Road: Basketmakers Arms aloft


3:54pm on Kensington Street: hues and cries


3:57pm on Jubilee Street: leaving The Lanes

Eastbound

Wheeling on from Jubilee Street to New Road, then swinging left on North Street and thence Castle Square, we twice traverse Old Steine via St James’s Street to start our journey east through Kemptown. St James’s Street leads to Upper St James’s Street, which leads to Bristol Road, which leads to St George’s Road.


4:00pm on North Street: bums and buses


4:04pm on St James’s Street: rainbows and greens


4:08pm on St George’s Road: cheers!

On St George’s Road a couple beside me asked, “Weren’t you painted silver all over on the London ride yesterday?” Yes, indeed! I was impressed they’d recognised me after such a substantial, all-over transformation. We continued right from St George’s Road into Eaton Place, the sea in view ahead of us, then left onto Marine Parade.


4:09pm on St George’s Road: orderly queue


4:11pm on Eaton Place: back to the sea


4:12pm on Marine Parade: down Duke’s Mound

Mound and round

From Marine Parade, we’re just one big zigzag ‘Z’ from our finish line. Top of the ‘Z’ is Marine Parade itself, but a sharp right puts us on the slash of the ‘Z’: a steep downhill roll along Duke’s Mound. At the bottom, if our brakes are working, a sharp left puts us on the lower parallel of the ‘Z’: Madeira Drive, our home straight.


4:13pm on Duke’s Mound: legs wide


4:14pm on Duke’s Mound: round the outside – © Ðariusz


4:15pm on Madeira Drive: nude not crude

Unexpectedly, rather than an exhilarating end, we then came to a grinding bottleneck halt. Although not clear at the time, apparently the petty ultimatum of a local business meant our traditional destination, Black Rock car park, couldn’t be used. Instead we had to funnel single-file through a tiny gate leading across Volk’s Electric Railway.


4:19pm on Madeira Drive: frustratingly funnelled


4:23pm from Madeira Drive: one by one


4:27pm at the naturist beach: our end

It seemed to take forever – hundreds of naked people pushing bicycles one-at-a-time through the narrow opening – but it also gave a pleasing sense of finality. The railway tracks were, after two and a quarter hours, over 9.6 miles, a true finish line. For many riders, the goal now was fun on the naturist beach. Me? I just rolled happily home.

Our route from Preston Park to the nudist beach

Bygone blogs

From → Causes

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