: the main body of riders in a bicycle race
Every year thousands of Portlanders gather on a Saturday night in early summer—probably at least a little drunk—for the nation's largest Naked Bike Ride. Dress code: as bare as you dare. The ride has been doubling in number since its inception in 2005. The most recent event this past June boasted 13,000 participants—that's 13,000 genitals rubbing against the sweaty vinyl surface of a bicycle seat, all together now.
On the night of last years naked bike ride I was at work. I didn't even know the ride was happening that night; someone may have casually mentioned it, and I may have casually misplaced that information in the mental bank of: try to remember this even though you will probably forget, in which many things lately end up.
After work Brody picked me up and we drove south to Banning's Pie House—the only 24-hour diner we had found in Portland that reminded us fondly of the east coast. At around 1 a.m. we drove back into downtown to pick up my bike, which was locked up outside work. I wrestled the bike into the trunk of his Grand Prix and got back into the car. As we were about to set off toward home we saw what appeared to be a sea of blinking bike lights heading in our direction. As they approached, it occurred to me—the information that had conveniently slipped into the second or third layer of the day as though it were a rent check forgotten under a pile of grocery receipts—the naked bike ride, riding directly toward our car.
And so we sat in the center of the PELOTON like spectators in a theater, as hundreds of naked bicyclists rode around our car. I thought of that part in Jurassic Park (hardly an unusual reference) when Alan and Lex and Timmy hid under a log as a herd of Gallimimus stampeded toward them. Bikers hit the hood of the Mercury with their palms, screaming "Get out of the car!" and "Get naked!" All we could do was laugh, in that way one laughs when something is funny but also uncomfortably awkward. It's safe to say neither of us had seen so much live cock in our collective lives. It took at least twenty or thirty minutes for the whole caravan to pass.
This is one of those memorable summer-nights that will be filed away with the others: stealing a 6-foot tall wooden sign shaped like a smiling cob of corn from a local farm, eating Doritos at the end of a dark cul-de-sac, singing and dancing to The Beatles' "The Word" pumping from someone's car stereo, arriving at a beach at dawn after walking ten or twelve miles to watch the sun rise. Always hot and unforgettable.