Jeff Hedgepeth will never forget his first time…riding a bicycle in the buff in the Fremont Solstice Parade. The summer’s official kickoff in the "Center of the Universe" draws hundreds of naked (painted) cyclists every year, along with stilt walkers, floats, belly dancers, and families looking for a colorful Saturday afternoon. Hedgepeth, the 59-year-old director of grants programming for the Pride Foundation, doesn’t fit the profile of a typical Solstice Cyclist. But last June, braving coworkers, body insecurities, and drizzly weather, he fulfilled his nine-year ambition of riding in his birthday suit. Looking back now, he only regrets "how long my fears kept me away."
Hedgepeth offers some lessons learned from his first solstice ride…
Paint yourself—don’t go naked.
Go to the painting party—your jitters go away when you see all the people there. If you need any help, and you don’t have your own posse to [paint] you, somebody is gonna help you. It’s just a very cool experience.
My artist used fabric paint because it’s flexible and it really stood up well to the elements that day, to the wear and tear. It literally had to be scraped off of me. A lot of people just use acrylic and it works for a while, but you know, it flakes.
I really recommend having a bike carrier or someway to take some clothes, just enough to make yourself decent in case you need to go to the hospital.
I had some career fears, but I work for a really cool organization [Pride Foundation]. I had the guy fears of shrinkage, the whole body consciousness thing. I am solid muscle, but I am chunky. You put me down on a bike and I look chunkier.
People are so afraid of doing it. I know this guy who has been in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was like, you have the nerve to do that? I don’t know if I could do that. And I’m like, really?
The oddest thing was that sometimes we would all come to a stop, and I remember talking to this man who had three little kids, and they are all just looking up awe struck.
When we approached Fremont and the parade crowd, hearing the cheers and such—I get goosebumps thinking about it right now. … We had driven to Fremont hours before, it was cold and rainy, and I thought, who is going to come out to this? It was a blast.
Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade
June 16 & 17; Sat 10–8; Sun 11–6. Parade starts Sat at noon.