Tuesday, July 29th 11:40a.m.
I am riding my bike through the center of downtown Saint Louis, completely naked, as hundreds of passersby stare.
I am not dreaming.
This is the World Naked Bike Ride, a bike riding spectacle replicated in cities all over the world to bring attention to bike safety and body positivity, and to give people one more excuse to take their clothes off. Not too many people are fully disrobed, but hey, I’m not one to half-ass things (pun definitely intended).
There is no better way to explore a new city than by stripping down and biking all over town. My hands were coated with paint and I was decorating my fellow riders’ bodies with handprints in any number of (usually hidden) places. Sweetheart was also a big hit, playing his trumpet throughout the ride. Every block we went down there were crowds waiting to wave, cheer us on, and welcome us.
But really, the welcome was hardly less warm when we were clothed.
Sweetheart and I were dropped off at a cafe when we first got into town, and as it turned out, the owner of the cafe knew our host (the naked bike ride organizer) and immediately offered us a show. So on our first morning in town we played our set at a cafe, where we met lots of new friends. That night, we were back, only this time drinking beer and entirely naked.
The people I met here are working on a number of very cool social justice projects, building community farms and eco-villages, fighting segregation, teaching, resisting fracking. It was inspiring to be around so many engaged people, and makes me feel strongly pulled to move here.
One thing about St Louis is that it is incredibly segregated. Block by block it is clear that neighborhoods are shaped by race, which you can read a bit about here: http://www.salon.com/2011/03/29/most_segregated_cities/slide_show/4
Now Sweetheart and I are on our way to Kansas City. We hope. We spent the night in the trainyard, running after a number of trains we couldn’t catch, and ended up just spending the night in some bushes near the yard. We woke up this morning feeling a little defeated, but a breakfast of pancakes and hashbrowns at a nearby greasy spoon has revitalized us, and we’ll soon be in the yard again, hopefully with better luck.