Less Gas, More Ass: World Naked Bike Ride Toronto Hits The Road Again
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Less Gas, More Ass: World Naked Bike Ride Toronto Hits The Road Again

At least they wore helmets.


On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of cyclists—many wearing little else than colourful body paint and helmets—are gathered at leafy Coronation Park by Toronto’s waterfront.

Three young women, among the naked, pose for photographers. Toronto’s latest edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, an annual protest against oil dependency which takes place in at least 70 cities across the globe, has drawn them all here—though the importance of fossil fuels to the shutterbugs at this moment is debatable.

“I don’t know what kind of effect we have in actually getting people to reduce their oil consumption, but what we do is make sure that there’s an awareness that there’s alternatives,” says Gene Dare, one of the events promoters, as bubbles float past.

Dare, wearing oversized shades, a floppy red hat and little else, has been taking part for nine years, and has been involved with organizing the event, which launched in Toronto in 2004, for seven.

“Last year, it was about 150 riders, the year before it was 80 riders, so it’s almost doubling as the word gets out,” says Dare, who adds that a few e-bikes will be coming along for the first time.

Before the ride, Doug, a participant who chose not to give his surname, strolls by the lake in his birthday suit. “It’s definitely very much fun,” he says of what lured him here. “Riding up Yonge Street on Saturday afternoon—this is good,” adds Doug, who has done this for the past five years.

As well as the world’s longest street, the route swings past many notable Toronto sites, including City Hall, Kensington Market, Queen Street West, and the Financial District.

Emily Goulet, who has a “Less Gas, More Ass” sign tacked to her city bike’s basket, has been waiting for this moment a long time. “I’ve known about it for five years, and every time I found out about it was the day after in the newspaper, so this year I looked up and I was like, I’m going.”

“I’ve been thinking about it for five months,” adds Goulet, who has been to nude beaches before, but hasn’t done anything like a freewheeling naked protest before.

“The thing that’s most nerve-racking is there’s a lot of pictures, and I think it’s because I painted myself so much,” she says, as more photographers standby.

A majority of those who show up baring it all are men. Goulet has no problem being part of a nudist minority, though.

“It’s fun being nude, and who cares if there’s a lot of naked guys. Hopefully this encourages more women to come out, and we’ll see more next year,” she says, before walking off with her bike.

Along the ride, parents’ cover their children’s eyes, and some bystanders look embarrassed, Goulet says, nonetheless describing most observers as smiling.

Not everyone shares her enthusiasm. One man, who declines to give his name, voices his disapproval to Torontoist.

“This isn’t right,” he says. “What if little children come here? One guy had an erection—in public!”

“He was all proud of himself,” he adds. “They all literally just took pictures of his penis,” he says.

“So what, so what,” another man, who had been soaking up rays in the buff, chimes in.

While they bicker, a mass of cyclists pours out of the park and heads for an hour-long ride through the core.

Before they’ve even pedalled a few blocks, these cyclists, nudists and environmentalists have sparked a debate.

Photo by Josh Sherman