How do you turn 6,000 into 60,000? Ask residents of Port Dover, Ontario, a small community on the north shore of Lake Erie. Every Friday the 13th Port Dover is filled with over 50,000 motorcyclists. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the event which first began in 1981 to tune of a group of a little over 20 friends having fun while the Rolling Stones sang “Start Me Up” over the radio.
Every year the Friday the 13th events at Port Dover have gotten bigger and bigger, and while there have been problems with the committee and kinsmen, no one noticed any issues this year.
I had never attended an event like this before. The closest would’ve been the Ride For Sight. I chose to take my KYMCO Venox as it was liquid cooled, light, and equipped with some new Metzeler tires so it would be well adapted to the traffic entering town as well as the thunder showers the forecast had predicted the night before. Ashley had washed the motorcycle the day before and even lubed the chain, I filled up the gas, and hit the road early Friday morning. Destination: Hamilton.
In Hamilton I met up with Adrienne, Lisa, and Rafaella. We grabbed breakfast and met up with Mike, and then after a gas up, and bank trip we were finally off to hit the road. The ride in to town was slow, full of traffic, and not worth reliving.
Upon arriving in Port Dover we found a small side street on a hillside to park on so as to avoid the crowds and traffic of Main St. Port Dover was well setup, with police blocking cars and limiting the roads to motorcycle traffic only, which they directed well. There were no incidents as far as I was aware, besides new riders and / or drunks dropping their motorcycles.
We saw the usual stands, vendors, knick knacks and lots of t-shirts, along with tens of thousands of motorcycles, predominantly Harleys. Some, like a Softail parked down the hill from me, were left with the keys still in the ignition. Why do they tempt me so? And just when we thought we’d seen everything, custom painted toilet bowls!
I left my friends as I had an appointment back in Toronto. The ride home turned out to be my favourite part of Friday the 13th. There were hundreds of motorcycles leaving Port Dover at the same time, all strangers travelling together. Police had a two check points on the outskirts of town but beyond that we were left to our own devices. While we generally rode in staggered formation, their was also a lot of acceptance of zig-zagging through the bikes by other motorcyclists, and lots of people riding on the wrong side of the yellow line, to scoot ahead. Everyone would let the new rider in and shift their lane position accordingly. At one point we essentially had three lanes of motorcycles traveling in one traffic lane on HWY-6.
It wasn’t at all chaotic though. Everyone was very alert, very aware, it was a smooth and efficient ride, and with so many riders out there making space and blocking for one another, I always felt much safer than I normally do riding on unfamiliar roads. Thanks everyone! The ride home was amazing and a must-experience on motorcycle. Oh, and Port Dover was fun too! Did you make it? Have you been? Leave a comment below!