The Riding Reporter: Riding in the nude
Interviewee: Jennifer Lee
Occupation: Medical Technician
Riding style: recreational
Her ride: a giant urban hybrid. "A friend lent it to me. I'm still looking for my dream bike...."I'll know what it is when I see it."
Last week, thousands of people descended upon Fremont for the annual Solstice Parade. The big attraction of the parade every year, is the hundreds of nude bicyclists.
Wearing nothing but a nude thong and a wig, Freelard resident Jennifer Lee was among the 600 cyclists that risked losing their body paint in the rain.
"I wondered how the paint would hold up rain but it did surprisingly well," said Lee, who participated for the first time this year. "The parade was pretty overwhelming but tons of fun."
After five years of watching the parade, Lee decided to brave the rain, cold and thousands of on-watchers and join the parade.
"I wanted to do it when I saw it for the first time but I wasn't riding bikes at that point in my life," Lee said.
With the ultimate goal of making a cross-country bike tour some day, Lee started biking two years ago.
"I wanted to do something [physical]," she said. "I noticed a lot of people biking and I though, 'I can do that!' I put the word out there to my friends that I was looking for a bike and luckily it worked out."
Lee now does her 9-mile roundtrip commute to work by bike daily.
In honor of her 30th birthday and her new-found love for biking, Lee decided it was time to join the nude bikers in a celebration of self-expression.
"I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to do it and he said, 'hell no!'. None of my girlfriends wanted to do it either," Lee said.
She finally convinced one of her guy friends to join her and together they headed out to the painting party on the morning of June 18.
"I had a couple ideas [of what I wanted to be painted as]. I was going to do Wonderwoman but then I looked at footage from past parades and wanted to do something unique. My boyfriend is big into sugarskulls [from Día de los Muertos] and I thought that seemed easy to do," Lee said.
"I got everything the day before, very last minute. There was still a tiny voice in my head that said 'you might not go through with it'."
But once at the painting party, Lee said the nerves went away.
"It felt weird being clothed with so many naked people in the room," she said.
Going out to ride in front of spectators on that cold, rainy day was an adrenaline rush," Lee said.
"The crowd's enthusiasm was good. You definitely need the crowd wooing at your to get that adreneline rush going."
Lee admitted that she had some body image issues during the weeks leading up to the parade.
"I wasn't sure about showing my body but in the end, it felt good to do it," she said.
At this year's Solstice Parade, filmmakers Dan McComb and Lisa Cooper were filming their documentary, "Beyond Naked", a lighthearted, feature-length documentary that explores our deep-rooted fear and awkward fascination with nakedness.
"I know there are people that don't come out to the parade because of the nakedness but I think that's a little arcaic," Lee said. "We're just celebrating being liberated."
Lee said a lot of people asked what her boyfriend thought about her participating in the parade and exposing herself like that.
"He was fine with it and said he didn't want to hold me back from doing what I want to do," Lee said, adding that her boyfriend was cheering her on from the sidelines.
Lee said she may have inspired some of her friends to join the nude cyclists next year and hopes to do it again.
"It was a lot of fun. We were smiling and laughing the whole time. We didn't even really minded the rain. I would encourage everyone to do it."
In the meantime, Lee looks forward to biking more, fully clothed.
The Riding Reporter is a feature series in which BNT's bike-riding reporter, Anne-Marije Rook takes, takes interviewees on a short bike ride around town to talk bicycles, transit, and any other issues that may arise when seeing the city from a two-wheeled point of view. Previous interviewees include Mayor Mike McGinn, ultra-cyclist Chris Ragsdale, bike messenger world champion Craig Etheridge, Chuck Ayer from Cascade Bicycle Club, and more.