Winnipeg’s first World Naked Bike Ride incarnation: officer 1849 in a size war

A photo of a semi-balding police officer facing the camera with his head tilted slightly downward

This is republished from June 15, 2008. Some of it is embarrassing to me 14 years later, but here we are! A cropped photo of 1849 accompanied the original post, this update includes more visual spice.

I share this in honour of the Winnipeg Police Service offering anti-bullying sessions as part of Pink Shirt Day. Kevin Smith, 1849, has subsequently become a global superstar!

(elided: me showing up at the Legislative Building in my underwear two weeks early, having misunderstood the date)

After that embarrassment, I forgot about the World Naked Bike Ride until reminded by a clerk’s radio at the passport office. When I arrived at the front of the Legislative Building in underwear and Fuck Cars T-shirt, I was dismayed to see only a couple of cyclists versus forty or more spectators. We hung about, feeding parasitic media and observers.

A photo of people in front of the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building, with bikes laid on the steps
Creep accesswinnipeg, parasitic media, captured me in toe shoes, undies, and Fuck Cars tshirt

The flyer had said “as bare as you dare” and I felt sufficiently dared to ride in my underwear, but as we pulled up on Broadway to the light at Osborne, a fellow cyclist convinced me to go all the way. It was predictably liberating. Really, what is the big deal about naked bodies? I am far from brimming with body image confidence, but I went for it.

The ride proceeded well, for the most part. We had a police escort that provided the usual irritation. Many people reacted well. Others were more creepy, speeding ahead only to get out and record us with camera phones. “Do some sit-ups!” while riding down Corydon was unappreciated, but unsurprising. My nadir was hearing a mother instruct her children to cover their eyes. What is the deal about naked bodies?

A photo of six cyclists biking away from the camera down a treed street
This used to live here but Support Local News doesn’t care about URL stability

We rode through OV, down Corydon, over the route 90 overpass, and onto Portage. After we were well-established there, I spotted officer 1849, one of my preëexisting nemeses (ask me or fellow Copwatchers why, or watch a video), passing us in the opposing lane, with a glare.

Maybe a minute later, we were pulled over. Despite having accompanied us three-quarters of the way with little more than a peep, they told us we were breaking the law with public nudity, blah blah bullshitcakes. Officers paired with cyclists and I got to be BFF with 1849. As anyone in Copwatch has learned, I do not handle myself well when confronted with illegitimate authority. (Is there anything but?) We predictably came to verbal sparring.

1849 repeatedly threatened me with arrest. In turn, I repeatedly called his bluff, at one point yelling “Take me, then!”; while I do find him disturbingly attractive, I didn’t mean that. I had bridge to play, so I didn’t push it. Though I knew I was not obligated to do so, I gave my phone number. But I first evaded by giving my work number, which he immediately recognised as a city number.

After checking my file in his car, he returned and attempted to shame me by threatening me with how my workplace would react once he phoned them the next day. Miscalculations:

  1. It’s likely my boss wouldn’t give a fuck
  2. If I got any guff, I would simply quit

I’m surely in a privileged position, but you do not get to me through work. Fuck. You. I was only more inflamed.

When he had noticed the pants I had in a backpack when I retrieved identification, he’d become fixated on getting me to put them on. (When the police had demanded that we cover our nakedness everyone but me had scrambled to get fully dressed, but I merely reapplied my underwear. I have no desire to comply farther than the bare minimum.)

After endless dithering and bullshit, a supervisor-type told us we were free to go, as long as we didn’t get nekkid again minutes after taking off. He pitched a nonsensical story about protecting us from ourselves and the motorists who would be unable to help themselves from steering into us in their distraction (“it’s a liability issue”), with no mention of the procession of hideous animated signs that line Portage.

From left to right, a pixelated figure being interrogated by a police officer, a person facing the camera taking a photo, and an officer looking at something with gloves on a police car hood
One must take one’s gloves off for such things, with a bonus appearance: who is she?

There was a tension between the words of the supervisor, who said we could leave, and 1849, who seemed to be very much interested in me getting pants on. I tried to have the supervisor confirm that he was indeed overriding 1849, but he seemed unwilling to contradict 1849 in front of the kids. I took advantage of the authoritarian chasm and left with the rest, neglecting to remember that 1849 still had my driver’ license. Have fun with that!

Most time we were stopped, 1849 was berating me any way he could. The peak of his creativity came when he said something like “If you ever do this again, maybe you should think about enlargement.” (This was repeated in some form three times over the length of his bloviation.) I could probably dedicate another lengthy post to overanalysing this line of attack, but why? It’s obviously an inappropriate thing for a police officer to say in the line of duty. Expect a LERA complaint, 1849.