Free wheeling

I nearly left my pants at home this morning. The temperature was a few bitter degrees above zero, my home is five icy miles from work and I was pedaling my trusty titanium steed, but the temptation was unbearable. I’ve secretly been craving another little taste (that’s right another) of a new fad that is literally creeping across the globe – naked cycling.

After emerging from relatively fresh roots in New Zealand, bare biking is popping up all over. There, south of the equator, more than 20 different groups of bicycling “naturists” routinely hop in the saddle and pedal their flesh in public. Less concerned about coverage than cadence, the zealous Kiwis know few boundaries and spin their cranks come rain, blistering heat, advanced age or sagging glutes. Words like “ultimate freedom” and “total release” have been tied to the roving two-wheeled exhibition.

“Being a naturist is a wonderful, exhilarating, liberating experience,” a 60-year-old member of the velocult explained. “It’s good for your relaxation and stress release, and for growing your self esteem and confidence as you learn to love your body.”

Yep, naked cycling has practically gone mainstream down south. The Auckland World Naked Bike Ride takes off annually and shares a whole new meaning for the word “knobbies.” Naked cycling is so entrenched in New Zealand that when two nude riders were pulled over in the beach town of Whangamata, they got off with little more than a warning. Their charge was not for “having their tackle out” but for riding without helmets.

“They were wanting to experience total freedom,” said the compassionate constable. She happily let the “jovial young men” spin on down the road, so long as they found protection for the first of their two heads.

Naked riders have also been popping up all over Europe, and the liberated peloton has made its way across the pond, streaking onto both of America’s seaboards. Even Durango had a brief brush with bare bicycling back in 2003 – when 15 “mostly naked” riders pedaled en masse down Main Avenue. Video of that critical masturb immediately went micro-viral, but the local trend was quickly rendered flaccid by images of a couple alcohol-soaked riders meeting hard truths atop the tarmac.

Not long after that crack-filled procession, even I inadvertently dabbled in a little naturist fun of my own. Following one of my biannual late nights at El Rancho, I boarded my human-powered ticket home. And though many fluid ounces had fallen, the bike was handling surprisingly well . . . or so I thought.

I’ll never know what happened – pothole, tequila tremor or attack of a rogue trouser snake – but a seemingly friendly stretch of the Animas River Trail suddenly turned gnarly. Out of nowhere, I was out of my pedals and managed to hook the right-hand pocket of my shorts – the lone curtain between public and privates – on the nose of my saddle. The canvas split like a piece of notebook paper, audibly tearing as it was rent from belt loop to lower leg. In a split second, I went from pedaling comfortably clothed to lying shamefully exposed in a defeated heap on the concrete. Any passersby would have gazed on a dazed and chafed man wearing little more than a pair of canvas chaps.

Humiliated, yes, but also finally liberated, I found myself accidentally chanting the naturist mantra. Over the next 4 miles, I was able to indulge in that fabled “stress release” as my shorts flapped above, over and under the unmentionables. I grudgingly learned to “love my body,” as rogue bumps slapped the leather saddle into the tenders. And I discovered a whole new “ultimate freedom,” as I pedaled by a Durango Police squad car blissfully hidden under the cover of darkness.

Strictly between you and me, I’m not wholly opposed to expanding my cycling boundaries in a different climate. A little time pedaling in the summer sun sounds pretty tempting right about now, and Auckland’s World Naked Bike Ride takes off just around the corner on Feb. 13. Given a plane ticket, generous per diem and a saddle with a handsome cut-out, I might actually be inclined to “grow my self esteem” down south.

But facts are facts – a man only wins the Canadian lottery once a year – and my co-pilot craves the comfort of a little protection when we’re sharing a spin. The naked truth is, I think I was actually cured of my naturist tendencies during that 20-minute, late night weave. Those were saddle sores I’m not sure I’ll ever revisit.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

May 11, 2023
Digs for dirt bags

New hostel offers hikers, skiers and other frugal fun hogs place to hang their hats

May 4, 2023
Saving the cemetery

Proposed apartments spur efforts to preserve historical burial grounds

May 4, 2023
Rico reprieve

Small mountain hamlet to remain resort-free, for now