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More than 75 bicyclists paraded through Madison on Saturday, most starting out naked but ending up clothed, saying they were bringing attention to the causes of energy independence and body acceptance.

"We have to change the way we live to reduce our dependence on oil," said Nicholas Wootton, an organizer of the event called the World Naked Bike Ride. "We have to change our attitudes about our bodies."

Added Natalia Hacerola, one of the cyclists: "I feel sorry for the people in cars today. What a perfect day to be naked outside."

Some of the unclad cyclists wore body-painted slogans on their skin, many referencing the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: "Burn fat, not oil;" "Drive less, drill less, spill less;" "Spilled oil, the real indecent exposure" and "BP: body power."

The ride - talked about in previous years but never executed in Madison before Saturday - started about 11 a.m. at a building next to the St. Vincent de Paul store on South Park Street. Cyclists rode along State Street, around the Capitol Square and on East Washington Avenue and Williamson Street before heading back to Park Street.

About 75 to 100 people participated, said Madison police Sgt. Tony Fiore. By the time the group reached the Dane County Farmers' Market about noon, police had ordered them to cover up, citing public complaints. Most of the cyclists complied, but police cited 10 of them with disorderly conduct, which carries a fine of $429, Fiore said. Those cited put on clothes before being released, he said.

Most passersby didn't seem to mind the spectacle.

"That's fine if that's what they want to do," said Sue Jostad, of Waunakee, who saw the cyclists on State Street. "We don't have to look."

Cory and Melinda Bannister were at Brittingham Park with their 3-year-old son, Jaiden, when the promenade passed by.

"I come from a small town. We don't do stuff like this," said Cory, from Hartford City, Ind., and now living in Waunakee.

"I guess if you want to introduce your child to some different culture, this is one way to do it," Melinda said.

Emily Harney, from England, was at Sunroom Café on State Street with friends from Madison when they looked out the window to find the surprising display.

"I'm just glad we had finished our breakfast," she said.

 

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