My home city of Denver has surprisingly strict laws on public nudity. You’d think that being the first state to legally sell marijuana in the USA, we’d be slightly more chill about it. Really, the police should be worrying less about naked people and more about people driving under the influence of eating chips and dip.
The closest I ever got to a naked-in-public event here was nine years ago when I did the “Naked Pumpkin Run” in Boulder, CO. Long story short, I was a thin slice of cheddar away from getting arrested. I should write a blog post about it because the whole experience was just freakin bananas (apparently I’m hungry while writing this).
Ever since, my naked heart has longed to legally participate in some kind of mass bare-assed event. Ergo, when I found out about the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, I immediately put it on my bucket list. The ride happens all over the world. Portland just happens to have the largest with 8k - 10k participants over recent years - making it the massiest of the mass naked events.
But trying to make this happen always seemed so complicated. First, I’d have to find a place to stay (not too complicated). Second, I would have to track down a bike to ride (fairly complicated). And third, I would have to actually remember the date of the bike ride (extremely complicated… for me).
Luke and I have been trying to plan a trip to Portland for years now. I had never been before and he remembered loving it from way back when he went. As we began plotting out our summer vacation, we knew this had to be at the top of our list. Like usual, I touched based with some local Portlanders for advice.
When I mentioned the idea of coming out to a fellow nudist on Instagram, he suggested we come out during the bike ride. HE REMEMBERED THE DATE FOR ME! He said we were welcomed to stay with him and his partner at their place. HE HAD A PLACE FOR US! He said he even had an extra bike I could use. HE HAD A BIKE FOR ME!
When this many stars align, the universe is telling you that you need to take your clothes off and get on a bike. This had to happen. The only thing left was to convince Luke to do this trip during the naked ride. Nudity and crowds aren’t at all his jam.
Having a partner who has separate interests can surprisingly be a good thing. Relationship experts say that maintaining individual identities is key to long term success. Luke and I can attest to that.
Luke finds it relaxing to mow the yard. I prefer to play on Instagram. He enjoys staying home and sitting on the couch while drinking a mug of wine. I’d rather go out to a bar and drink club sodas. Actually, I’d rather drink manhattans. But I’m sober so I can’t. Either way, as long as we don’t try to change each other, it works for us.
The tricky thing about this is that while we make great partners, we don’t necessarily make great partners in crime. This can especially apply to travel. With him being calm and introverted, and my being spazzy and extroverted, he wants to relax, and I want to party. Therefore taking holidays together require a bit of compromise.
I sat down with Luke and talked to him very frankly about how this absolutely needed to happen. He wasn’t fond of our trip surrounding an event he wouldn’t participate in, but he graciously agreed to it - knowing that it meant a lot to me. Thank God… because I had already bought the plane tickets.
When we originally planned this trip the year before, I also had a couple other items on the agenda. I wanted/needed to meet up with fellow blogger Michael Schneider. And I wanted/needed to work with talented photographer Kenton Waltz. So, I made sure to work these back in as well.
Our vacation took off the moment the moment the plane landed. We had to track down and get our Turo car rental (Turo is like the AirBnB of car rentals. I should also write an essay about it because it was fucking weird). Then we jetted over to Powell’s to see the world’s largest bookstore (it was a very girthy bookstore).
After that, we made our way to our hosts’ home to get settled in, hang out with them, and go get some dinner. They informed us that if Luke wanted to do the naked bike ride, they could get a fourth bike and that he didn’t HAVE to ride naked. Luke said he would think about it. He still felt weary about having to be around all those people.
Next we rushed over to meet Michael the blogger and the other Michael (a single dad with no kids). They were fantastic and within a half hour we found ourselves at a strip bar where we saw male dancers go full frontal and/or eat chicken fingers (see two essays ago).
“You know where we should have gone?” said Michael to other Michael. “The Eagle.”
“Oh, that’s right,” other Michael said back to Michael (so many Michaels). “They have naked pool on Thursday nights. That would have been perfect for Scott.”
In all actuality, this would NOT have been perfect for me because, out of the four of us, I would have been the only one willing to really get naked. Being naked while everyone else stays dressed feels awkward and creepy.
It was too late for all of us to venture over there as a group anyway, but the Michaels would point out that The Eagle was on the way back to our side of town. It would be an easy stop if we wanted to do it on our own.
I had once hung out naked in a bar in San Francisco back in 2012 and the experience was exhilarating. For me, it genuinely isn’t about sex (even if it might be sexy). I’m not looking for any kind of backroom or to get some goppy knob-job. I literally just want to strip down and casually hang out with a beverage.
San Francisco has now outlawed public nudity. So, having the chance to experience this again seemed like another rare opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I turned to Luke and begged him to go like a child begging to go to a Toys-R-Us. Once again, he graciously agreed… as long as we made it quick. He was tired and wanted to get to bed.
Upon walking into The Eagle, we were greeted by a very friendly (and cute) cub who wanted to see our IDs. Some guys had their clothes on while others were in their underwear. I peaked around the corner and saw two naked guys playing pool. That was it.
“Can I still get naked if I don’t play pool?” I asked the door-cub.
“Absolutely,” he said. He explained where I could stash my clothes and that nudity was permitted as long as we weren’t doing anything naughty.
I know it sounds like I am a pro at this naked thing, but truly, each time I do something like this, I get terribly nervous. This is why I continually do it. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and I know I will walk away with an adrenaline rush and a new sense of well-being. It’s ironic how getting out of our comfort zones can make us feel more comfortable with ourselves.
Luke got a beer and I worked up the nerve to strip down. We ran into an old acquaintance from Denver who had fallen in love with the blog. He offered to take us to breakfast in the morning at one of his favorite brunch spots. It was a great way to catch up with a good person over good food (that he would generously pay for).
Once I went full monty, the rush was just as good as I remembered. Other guys followed suit and started stripping down as well. I got so caught up in the fun that it took me a while to notice Luke had gone to sit at the bar himself - his beer remaining empty. He looked tense.
I broke from my conversations and went over to him. “You’re ready to leave, aren’t you?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he nodded his head.
“Okay, let me go get my clothes and we can go,” I said knowing I needed to compromise.
But as any naked adventurer will tell you, once you take your clothes off, it’s very difficult to put them back on. This felt invigorating. I didn’t want to leave. Thus, I took my time getting my clothes and putting them back on.
Luke tapped on my shoulder. “I’ll go wait in the car.”
“Oh, okay,” I said. This surprised me. He had never done anything like that before.
When I finally joined him in the car, I could tell he didn’t just look tense, he looked sad.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I have to be honest with you,” he said. “We haven’t even been here 24 hours and this trip is turning out to be all about you.”
The moment I heard these words, my defenses went up. My knee-jerk reaction was to tell him he was crazy - that this trip was still totally ABOUT US and that I just needed to seize these other opportunities. He was just being too sensitive.
But I stopped myself from verbally puking these thoughts all over him. I know, deep down inside, that a huge corner stone in a good relationship is humility. Owning our mistakes rather than defending ourselves means so much to our partners. It stops us from fighting and creates an avenue for understanding, bonding, and setting things right.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to reflect on his words. I HAD scheduled this vacation around the bike ride. I HAD dragged him out to meet strangers-would-be-friends. I HAD pressured him into going to a bar he’d hate.
The thing Luke wants most in a holiday is to get quality time with just the two of us. Even though he loved meeting the Michaels (and looked forward to spending more time with them), we hardly got a moment alone since we arrived. Now, we would be having breakfast with company the next morning. Plus, I still had the photoshoot and the bike ride ahead.
Luke was right. Seventy-percent of this trip would either be things he didn’t want to do, time spent with others, or time spent apart. While I hadn’t tried to change him, I had been completely one-sided. I hijacked this whole thing before it even began. I completely fucked up.
These ended up being the words that came out of my mouth while we sat in the car. I owned up to my mistake and how I hated the fact that I did this to the man I love. I wanted to make it up to him and told him that we could do whatever he wanted for the remainder of the trip.
Luke agreed that it would be okay for me to still do the naked bike ride and to work with the photographer. But we cancelled the breakfast plans and, instead, went on an incredibly gorgeous hike - just the two of us. As someone who gets caught up in being an extrovert, I had forgotten how nice it is when Luke and I are alone together, doing the things we have in common and love.
On the day of the World Naked Bike Ride, Luke decided to join us after all. Our hosts worked like crazy to fix the flat tires on the two bikes (thank you Jermiah and Peter, we could not be more grateful). Once we arrived and got settled into the ride’s pre-rally, Luke took his shirt off which I never expected.
As we got in line for the ride to begin, I ended up being in front of Luke. He tapped me on the shoulder and, instead of telling me he wanted to go, he handed me his shorts to put in my bike’s basket (I was the only one who had a basket). It wasn’t until I looked back and saw him that I realized he also gotten completely naked.
My mind was blown. I never thought he would take part in something like this. When I took the time to make sure his needs were met, he took the time to join me in getting my needs met. And with that, my partner had finally become my partner in crime… at least for that evening.
I know that this story wasn’t exactly about the World Naked Bike Ride - something I had promised I would write when I did the experience. But that essay will come next time. For now, this was the story that needed to be told first.
Edited by Glen Trupp
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