Cyclists stage cheeky protest
By: Lindsey Wiebe
Updated: June 14 at 12:55 AM CDT | Winnipeg Free Press
Ben Plamondon didn't plan on spending Friday evening cycling the city in the buff.
But when the 19-year-old got word of Winnipeg's first-ever Naked Bike Ride, he decided he might as well toss caution -- and his clothing -- to the wind.
"I heard about it probably less than an hour ago," said the grinning University of Manitoba student, lounging fully clad on the legislative building staircase before stripping down for the cycling event.
World Naked Bike Rides, meant to raise awareness of oil dependency and protest car culture, have drawn thousands of participants in roughly 70 cities and 20 countries. But at Winnipeg's premiere nude ride, gawking bystanders outnumbered participants at least 7 to 1.
Plamondon and half a dozen other cyclists eventually disrobed before a silent crowd of camera-toting spectators.
Waiting atop the staircase was a contingent of well-dressed St. Mary's Academy students, who happened to be at the legislative building for graduation photos and burst into applause when the group doffed their clothes.
"I guess that's as naked as they get," said one woman on the sidelines after most cyclists stripped to their underwear, sounding a little disappointed.
The small group headed off down Osborne Street in various states of undress, but some bared it all after leaving the legislative building, with a handful of bemused police officers following.
Organizer Sierra Sawatzky said she believed in the environmental cause, and thought she'd put to use the nine months of leadership training she gained by volunteering with the Katimavik program.
The 18-year-old admitted her family in Altona might be a little surprised at what they see in the news.
"I never told my grandparents," she said. "We'll see what happens when the proverbial s--- hits the fan."