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My capital bike ride ... as bare as I dare

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 12 August 2010

SADDLE SORE:  Mark Campbell.

SADDLE SORE: Mark Campbell.

MORE than 1,000 cyclists took part in a ride along some of London s most famous thoroughfares - and I was one of them, writes Mark Campbell. But this wasn t any

MORE than 1,000 cyclists took part in a ride along some of London's most famous thoroughfares - and I was one of them, writes Mark Campbell.

But this wasn't any ordinary bike ride - oh no. With a dress code of "clothing optional" and the proviso that you should be as "bare as you dare", this was none other than the London leg of the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR).

The WNBR started in 2004 and now takes place every June in various UK cities, including Brighton, Manchester and Cardiff.

Organised by green campaigners, it aims to highlight the absurdity of oil dependency and celebrate the potential of cycling and the human body.

I'd never done this sort of thing before, although for several years I have worked as a life model so being naked in the presence of strangers was not going to be a problem.

To be honest, I was more worried about cycling in central London. Although I was going to be wearing a helmet (please, no jokes), the thought of weaving through busy traffic did not appeal.

We assembled at Hyde Park Corner, surrounded by a throng of sweaty male photographers and at 3.30pm on Saturday all 1,200 of us - in various states of undress - started off on the six-mile route through the capital.

Down Piccadilly, along Whitehall past the Houses of Parliament, over Westminster Bridge and along the South Bank we rode en masse.

With the sun blazing down on us and thousands of onlookers lining the streets snapping away with cameras, I felt like I was doing a lazy person's marathon.

Being naked in London is a liberating feeling and the whole event was thoroughly good fun.

A policeman I chatted to said he always volunteers for it because it's such a happy atmosphere.

Even though it's for a serious cause, everyone seemed out to have a good time and there were no troublemakers.

We hurtled along High Holborn and then - the big one! - Oxford Street. What a surreal experience to be a part of this mass of pink and brown bodies gliding past hundreds of bemused and amused shoppers in broad daylight.

A final sprint down Park Lane brought us to the finish line at Wellington Arch, where we all disembarked and mingled in the brilliant sunshine.

What a marvellous, bizarre, crazy thing to do. The only downside (apart from the inevitable saddle soreness) is that I have to wait a whole year to do it again.

Next year's London naked bike ride takes place on June 12. For more information, go to www.worldnakedbikeride.org/uk.

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