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Second World Naked Bike Ride one hard ass demo 

How many Haligonians will participate in the World Naked Bike Ride as it flaps through Halifax?

Lady Godiva would be proud. But also maybe a little jealous. While the legendary Lady rode naked through the streets to make a point, she had to do it all by her lonesome. In this day and age, folks ride naked en masse, and on bikes.

With slogans like "Less Gas, More Ass" and "Stop Indecent Exposure to Vehicle Emissions," cyclists from all over the world will set out June 13 to strip off their clothes and ride through their cities naked. It's the World Naked Bike Ride, and yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.

Tom MacDonald is helping to organize the Halifax version of this year's WNBR, timed to be a cheeky coda to HRM Bike Week (which officially ends Sunday). Though he didn't participate last year, he witnessed the ride and was inspired.

"They biked by me at work and I was just so jealous. There was a wave of people smiling as they biked by," says MacDonald.

"It originally appealed to me just because I enjoy ridiculousness on bicycles, and large communities of people doing that together," he says.

"At the Aeolian Ride I realized how much fun you could have with bicycle parades of craziness." The Aeolian Ride, an internationally touring bike event featuring a convoy of 52 cyclists sporting inflatable, cloud-like costumes, came to Halifax in 2006.

MacDonald is also an avid Critical Mass participant, and has been incorporating costumes, musical instruments and other fun elements into the monthly mass bike ride through Halifax streets.

"It just gets a way better reaction," says MacDonald. "You see people smiling. It seems to grow the movement more if people see you go by having a lot of fun."

In Chicago, where the WNBR has been happening ever since it became a global movement in 2004, a record 1,700 people joined the ride in 2008.

The same year, Halifax's first WNBR saw about 30 souls stripping down for the ride. But MacDonald isn't too concerned about numbers.

"If 10 people come, I'm happy," he says. "But I feel like we could get a lot more."

Last Friday, at Halifax's Bike Week kick-off Critical Mass ride, about 80 cyclists braved the cold and misty May evening. With better weather (as at last year's Bike Week Critical Mass ride) numbers have reached as high as 350. It remains to be seen how many cyclists will decide to bare their bottoms for Halifax's second WNBR.

The ride is officially clothing optional or "bare as you dare," with many riders going in their underwear or topless. But MacDonald is hoping to make it easy for folks to get naked. "It's hard to take your clothes off in front of people who aren't actually taking their clothes off at the same time," he says.

To assuage any awkwardness, fully clothed riders will meet at a designated spot (the water fountain in the Halifax Common) and then cycle together to another location where they will disrobe en masse.

A few naked rides around the world have had issues with police, but most have not incited much direct police interference. It helps that naked cyclists look vulnerable, not threatening. You might say downright goofy. "Our best weapon is humour," say naked riders.

Rebecca Hanson will be helping to decorate riders with body paint at this year's naked bike ride.

"I feel like the police here are very accustomed to the idea of summer being accompanied by whimsy," says Hanson. "It's something they're pretty aware of in Halifax."

"What it comes down to is it's a legitimate form of protest," says MacDonald.

And what are people protesting?

"The ride demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and is a protest against car culture," says the WNBR website.

"People do it for lots of reasons," says MacDonald, citing serious issues like the environment and body image to simple fun. "Some people just like the artistic idea of doing something a little off kilter in a large group of bicycles," says MacDonald. "It seems to get a lot of good reactions."

The Halifax WNBR convenes June 13th, 2pm, at the

North Common water fountain. For more info, go to

wiki.worldnakedbikeride.org. There's more information on Halifax Bike Week events at halifax.ca/bikeweek.

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