Published in National Post. [Toronto magazine, June 21, 2008.]
The naked and the tread
Nude cyclists say you too can do without pants
Over 50 used their bare bodies to protest petroleum dependency, body consciousness and the tyranny of pants last Saturday, as part of Toronto's sixth edition of the World Naked Bike Ride.
"The goal is to make awareness of the use of petroleum and try to convince people to go on a bicycle to save petroleum," said long-time rider Bob (who withheld his last name along with his clothing).
Riding a bike adorned with a sign stating, "This naked body burns calories not oil," Bob acted as a surrogate leader for a ride whose organizer was absent due to his daughter's wedding. The four bike cops that accompanied the official protest had no problems with the group. It was an eclectic crowd that included a cycle adorned with a surfboard instead of a set, an oddly large Ohio contingent and a rider dressed as a nude Ferengi, a Star Trek species.
"We came here on vacation, heard about it and thought, 'Let's live it up,'" explained Lauryn Campanell. "Trust me, this kind of thing would never happen in Dayton, Ohio."
The group departed from Coronation Park and as riders zipped past the Harbourfront Centre more than a few jaws dropped.
"This is a very strange thing," said David Umerah from the Harbourfront Community Centre's outdoor basketball courts. "But it's also a nice thing because it's good weather."
Although there were some yells of opposition, the riders were mainly greeted by cheers, honks and flashes from camera phones. Zipping up Yonge with detours through Church and Wellesley and Yorkville, the group caused a stir riding past the Four Seasons Hotel.
The near 10 kilometre bike ride ended as the riders rode down Spadina before stopping at Java House on Queen Street. For Campanell, who lost one of her friends from Ohio early in the bike ride when his rented bicycle fell apart on Bay Street, the experience was excellent.
"I turned around and it was a sea of nude," she reflected. "It was awesome."
Link to the National Post here.