When I heard about the Brighton Naked Bike Ride in 2007, I couldn’t wait to take part. It’d started up the year before but this was the first fully naked event.
Friends told me that the ride served as a demonstration to raise key issues about the environment and what our fuel consumption is doing to the planet.
I’d learnt to drive in 2004 but never really felt comfortable behind the wheel. After a year, I’d ditched four wheels for two and never looked back.
Cycling down the beach with the wind in my hair is one of my greatest pleasures and I honestly don’t understand why everyone doesn’t use a bike whenever they can.
So, I jumped at the chance to pedal around the city I love and raise awareness for some great causes.
My mum and dad were a bit shocked that I was taking part but I assured them there was nothing lewd about the eight-mile ride.
My parents have always tried to ensure I was comfortable with my body. Growing up in Brighton they’d even encourage a skinny dip if the beach was quiet. Of course I have worried about the odd lump or bump, but I’m very comfortable in my own skin and couldn’t wait to take part.
Saying that, I did feel nervous as I stripped off and stood around waiting for the ride to begin that very first year.
However, as the 350 participants started peddling off there was a great atmosphere and my anxiety disappeared. It was the smiles on the cyclists’ faces that were really attention-grabbing – not what they had between their legs.
Having had such a great time, I took part for the next three years running. Each summer the event became bigger with more and more people taking part.
So, I contacted Duncan Blinkhorn, one of the organisers of the ride, to see what I could do to assist. In 2013, I started by handing out leaflets and this year I helped with fundraising events and meetings to arrange the ride.
There can be anything from 500 to 1,000 people taking part, but it’s heavily dependent on the weather. Riders are much more likely to dare to bare if the weather’s nice, alhough there are some like me who’ll be there rain, wind or sun.
You don’t have to be fully naked. Some years I’ll wear a pair of flip-flops but other years I don’t even wear those, preferring to go barefoot and really be open to the elements.
Friends sometimes come and watch and my parents have come round to the idea. This June, they even came to see me ride.
You do get some people jeering and laughing on the ride round but mostly people are really happy to see something so different on the streets.
They stop to ask questions and I’ll pull over my bike to hand them a few leaflets on climate change.
We’re also hoping to improve conditions for cyclists in the UK’s biggest cities. Riding a bike is a great way to get about and keep fit, so we should make it easier by ensuring cycle lanes are safe and readily accessible for all.
If it takes my naked body to draw attention to these issues then that’s fine… though some might say I have a bare-faced cheek!