The Naked Mile
Off the top of my head, I can think of a few places I’d enjoy being naked: the shower, the bedroom, a sauna, a lake. But naked while riding a bicycle over a gravel road in the full sun of the Namibian desert doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Immediately, that is.
The road to Sesriem, Namibia offered epic views: a wide indigo sky smudged with cottony white clouds, sweeping golden desert landscape the colour of wheat and honey, and mountains in shades of dark chocolate. I was enjoying my ride at the back of the group as the sweep, alone with my thoughts and endless kilometres of sand and sky. Suddenly something caught my attention; off in the distance I could make out two figures coming toward me. By now I can usually identify riders by pedal stroke and jersey long before facial features become distinguishable. But this time, something was amiss. It looked as though the pair was wearing pale, flesh-toned body suits. As they pedaled closer I could see they were wearing little more than serious cycling tan lines, helmets, and mischievous smiles. I had heard rumblings of a resurrection of the Naked Mile, the brainchild of some fun-loving riders of TdA’s past, and it donned on me (around the time I got my first glimpse of nipple), that The Naked Mile was on!
Why?? You may ask. Why not? Is the best answer. I greeted the lady nudists with a laugh and obliged their request to photograph the morning spandex-defying adventure. Not one to miss out on the fun, I was pleased to see Andra, one of my partners in crime, at the lunch stop. We had just missed Dave A., Adam, Hilde and a handful of other brazen bare-assed bicyclists, so we thought we’d strip down for a little ride of our own (after a sandwich or two). We were joined by Pepper,* and the three of us headed down the road to strip off our bike gear in privacy (we were still feeling modest at this point). Moments after pulling off our jerseys, Henry Gold rumbled toward us in The Green Machine, one of our beastly support vehicles. Caught red-handed (and nearly braless), we seized our opportunity and promptly mooned Tour d’Afrique’s founder. The nudity ice broken by the invigorating mooning, we disrobed and hopped on our bicycles in a fit of naked merriment and good cheer. I was riding our mechanic Chris’s bike while he was on vacation (sorry Chris), and within minutes I got a flat. We were enjoying our new found freedom so much we made it a Naked Tire Change. So there we were, baring bits and boobs on a hot strip of desert pavement, crouched over the 29-er rims , cheeks to the wind, pulling and prying and grimacing in the nude. Admittedly, this was not “good naked,” but there was no one around. Until the tour-bus convoy started. At first, we ran for cover in the roadside shrubbery, covering our unmentionables with helmets and limbs. This got old after a while and eventually we surrendered our fate, waving proudly to the hoards of amused camera-wielding tourists.
The flat fixed (quicker and more skillfully than any of us had ever done fully clothed), we cycled our mile and continued on for nearly an hour into the wild nude yonder. Who knew riding in the buff could be so blissful! We’re convinced, judging by the blasé expressions on the few drivers who rode past us without batting an eye, most assumed we had succumbed to a flesh-toned body suit craze. We could have ridden that way all day, if not for the copious amounts of sunscreen required to adequately cover our birthday suits. I can now safely add “riding a bicycle” to my “comfortably nude” list. Somewhere near the top.
*Names have been changed to protect the nude. For some, what happens on TdA, stays on TdA!