While the Tour de France was forced to postpone its launch by more than two months as mass gatherings were outlawed to meet health guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic, another key date for cycling enthusiasts will go ahead on the tour’s original start date of June 27 – albeit in slightly altered form.

Portland’s edition of the World Naked Bike Ride is the flagbearer for the nude cycling events seen in many cities in recent years.

The events regularly attract huge numbers to cycle together as nature intended, including a world record crowd for such an endeavor of well over 10,000 in 2015.

Exhibitionists faced an anxious wait to discover what form this year’s ride might take, with the event ultimately avoiding yet another cancelation by expanding to become a full-day event over the entire city rather than a single-group ride.

“People are encouraged to ride naked all day and discouraged from gathering with others,” said the planners behind the ride, which has been running since 2004 and usually keeps its starting location secret.

“We won’t meet and ride en masse. Instead, we’ll ride whenever and wherever we want on the day – naked, joyous and in solidarity.

“The ride will look vastly different to previous years. We are bigger than this virus… we will ride on.”

Roads around Portland are usually closed off and marshaled by fully-clothed police during the ride, but traffic congestion is likely to be less of a consideration as cyclists are advised to cycle only with people they live with.

“This is the best thing that could happen to the world naked bike ride,” the lead organizer of Pedalpalooza, which runs hundreds of biking events in the region, told the Portland Mercury.

“We can’t make space for people to gather. But we also can’t postpone joy or avoid embracing uncertainties. It’s an opportunity to reimagine our systems.

“If anything, our reach will be farther and more diverse if everyone just pedals off from their homes naked at varying times.

“Chances are going to be high that you’ll see someone biking around naked on June 27.”

The ride is partly a collective global protest against oil dependency, positioning cars and pollution as “indecent exposure” and nudity as the best way of “defending our dignity and exposing the vulnerabilities faced by cyclists and pedestrians”.

Fans were largely impressed with the revised idea, with suggestions that it could even be held across the entire state of Oregon.

“If the weather is great, riding all day naked is a genius idea,” said one, while another pointed out: “A whole new level of courage is needed to frolic naked without 10,000 people with you.”

Leaders have had to discourage supporters keen to volunteer on the day, insisting that no support will be needed as no group events will take place.

Some concerns have also been raised over a lack of safety in numbers, restarting an argument that led to anger last year when organizers warned that riders should not allow “fully-clothed men” to take photos of the event without the consent of riders.

“Show up naked and get what you get,” replied one annoyed respondent. “Don’t want your photo taken, don’t show up.”

Another said: “I was there and I saw a lots of guys filming the crowd. The people who are complaining have no valid reason to unless those guys were performing an illegal activity. This is so petty.”

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