KELOWNA - Organizers of the second Annual Naked Bike Ride in Kelowna are calling the event a success with much more media coverage and more positive reaction from the people they passed in the streets, even if their numbers were about the same as last year.
“Last year we had zero media, we flew under the radar, but this year they were all over it. We didn’t know the media would pick up on it quite like they did,” Liam Park says. He started the ride wearing his girlfriend’s underwear but ended it fully naked.
Co-organizer Madison Keller says the attention they received this year was a bit unnerving, but the ride went off a lot smoother and was better received than the innagural event last year.
“When we showed up at the beach, there were all these people there, fully clothed with their cameras out, just looking at us. It was bit awkward at first,” Keller says. “But we were able to stay together and we had tons of support from people we passed by. Everyone was cheering us on. The police kind of just watched us and when we did encounter them, the riders were respectful and made sure they obeyed traffic laws.”
Keller did the ride wearing fancy boa panties and pasties but said the degree of nudity is irrelevant.
“How naked you are doesn’t matter, you’re still demonstrating the vulnerability of cyclists and the absurdity of how we view the human body in its natural state.”
Because of the media interest this year, Keller says there was a lot more social media commentary, both good and bad.
“I didn’t find the negative reactions suffocating at all. I think it helps, it throws a bit of gas on the fire, so to speak, and gets people interested when there’s two sides to it."
The Annual Naked Bike Ride is a global event, taking place in cities around the world, and while the message can get somewhat lost in the medium, Park says the titillation factor of someone naked on a bike is critical in getting noticed and rising above the chatter on social media.
“You could have 400 people riding around on bikes fully clothed and while it’s a bit of a spectacle, the message would soon die out. But even with a couple of dozen semi-naked people on bikes, suddently everyone’s taking pictures, they’re sharing it, putting it on Instagram, tweeting it. They’re saying to their friends and family, ‘you’ll never guess what I saw today’. You can’t beat that.”
The two vow to continue the Annual Naked Bike Ride next year and hope by establishing the event as a regular occurence, to start focusing people on the message as much as the spectacle.
“If it becomes like a real thing, instead of a rumour, I think people will really start to take notice,” Park says.
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