World Naked Bike Ride Manchester 2017
This was my third WNBR, having been invited to photograph the first by Rebecca Warren, a woman whom I had photographed for her business profile when she was in her office. I admit to being a little taken aback when the second time I saw her she was being body painted for the naked bicycle ride around Manchester. Although not commissioned to do the photography, I saw it as a challenge and a lot of fun.
There is a serious point to the event, which happens in over 70 cities around the world, that is to draw attention to the depletion of fossil fuels, pollution, and road safety for cyclists.People take part for all sorts of reasons, some of whom are there just for the fun of doing something they wouldn't normally be allowed to do.
The Manchester Police are very relaxed about it and the riders are happily allowed to marshal themselves.The 6 mile route. which criss-crosses the city centre, is different every year, but it starts and finishes in the same place and, for the last three years, it has gone along Canal Street, the famous heart of Manchester's LGBT community.This is my favourite location, where you are guaranteed to get reactions from some colourful characters.
I plan my route, which is on foot, to be in strategic places ahead of the peloton, making sure I include Canal Street, which is near the end of the ride. I was somewhat left behind this year, as I chose to be near the entrance end of Canal Street, rather than at the exit, as I had last year.This worked in my favour, however, as I managed to catch one of the riders taking time to pose for selfies with two very colourful characters, then riding naked down the road amongst taxis and cars, with no other riders in sight.
I wonder what the drivers must have thought if they hadn't seen the procession which had long since passed.
I have got to know several of the regular riders, and this time they were suggesting I might like to ride next year. It would have to be on the back of a tandem, so I could still take photos.
I have to say it is tempting, but would I get naked? Possibly, but I am not sure Manchester crowds would be prepared for a naked man with a camera, dashing into their midst, crouching close to the ground to get the best angle of the Town Hall!