Are you superstitious? I think I’m regular-stitious. I walk under ladders, but never carrying a black cat. Motorcyclists seem to be incredibly non superstitious. They think that the most superstitious date on the calendar — Friday the 13th — is the absolute bomb.
It’s been a tradition since 1981 to drive your motorcycle to the resort town of Port Dover, Ont., on the shores of Lake Erie, every Friday the 13th, regardless of which month it falls on.
Every year it gets bigger, even the years when the “Black Fridays” show up on cooler months. With the last Friday the 13th of 2012 happening in July, and hot weather on the forecast, many predicted that this would be the biggest turnout ever. And it was.
About 50,000 motorcycles and 150,000 people were the numbers I heard repeatedly. I didn’t actually count all the bikes and on-lookers clogging the streets of Dover, because I was too busy getting heat stroke, or what I thought was heat stroke.
Turns out I was instantly cured by an adult beverage and some pan-fried Perch at the Erie Beach Hotel. But suffice to say, you couldn’t swing a stuffed animal, like say a cat, without hitting leather, chrome, or a large person with a bandana. So I didn’t.
Funnily enough, our gang didn’t arrive at Dover via bikes, or via cars. Our pal Kirby hosted us in nearby St. Williams, and dropped us off by boat. Great fun but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the water route, as dock space on that day is super tight. But with so many people on the pier looking at every boat coming into the marina, I can now appreciate how Queen Elizabeth felt on her Jubilee tour down the Thames.
It was my first Friday the 13th at Port Dover. Here are a few impressions and observations of the day, from this rookie attendee.
• Very hot and humid, saved only by a slight breeze.
• Did I mention it was hot?
• A warm day meant a lot of skin was uncovered. As usual, this is good and bad.
• The vibe was awesome. All those bikes and all those people and all that heat and nobody was cranky or pushy.
• The cruiser crowd, which prefers leather and Harley Davidson motorcycles, are definitely the majority, but there was solid representation from all motorcycle genres — sport bikes, vintage, touring, standards, trikes, etc.
• Huge police presence. But they didn’t seem to have much to do, other than direct traffic.
• Port-a-potties and hot sun? Not a good combination.
• Very well organized. Only bikes allowed into and out of town by one road, and under the control of those efficient and courteous police officers. People arriving by car have to park way out of town, in a designated farmer’s field, and then get shuttled by school bus.
• Hundreds of bikes rolling into, or out of town, en masse, makes for great mechanical theatre — lots of flashy visuals, amazing soundtrack.