The 13th Annual Port Dover Motorcycle Rally
By Vincent Cardinale, BMW R1150GS
Friday, March 13, 2015
Port Dover, Ontario Canada: (42° 47' N / 80° 12' W)
For the 59 consecutive Friday the 13th since November 13, 1981 when it all started, motorcyclists of every ilk imaginable descended upon a sleepy little fishing village located on the Northeast shore of Lake Erie for the March 2015 edition of the Friday the 13th Port Dover motorcycle rally. Nestled about halfway between London ON and Buffalo NY in Norfolk County, Port Dover (population 6,300) hosts a motorcycle rally every Friday the 13th, regardless of what month it falls. Billed as "The biggest single-day motorcycle event in the world" – summer-month attendance is claimed to be well into the six-figures, with estimates approaching 200,000 for the Friday, June 13, 2014 event. Turnout for the March 2015 winter time event was nowhere near those seen during the summer months; rather it could be characterized as being on par with a well-attended bike night. Author's best guess would put the number of attendees in the hundreds. It should be noted that event day morning low temperature was 24 degrees F (well into heated-gear territory), and the afternoon high did not make it out of the 40s. Those temperatures however did not stop several young men from taking a dip in icy Lake Erie. Nor could the cold deter “Thong Man”, an elderly gentlemen wearing a green Leprechaun waist coat, top hat, bow tie, sneakers, and yes – a green thong. (Insert senile octogenarian joke here.) Nor did a snow-covered patio at a local watering hole preclude outdoor revelry there. Harley-Davidson was by far the best represented brand, dwarfing the European and Japanese contingents. Author's vote for Most Notable Bike award goes to a beautifully restored 1926 Nimbus "Stovepipe", powered by a longitudinal 746 cc air-cooled inline 4 cylinder featuring exposed valve train, shaft drive, and of course - no front brake. The early morning 200-odd mile ride to Port Dover from the Metro Detroit MI area was, in a word, brisk. The Canadian border guard was rather bemused at my trip reason; I'm guessing that holding a Nexus card is what spared me secondary inspection and possible on-the-spot mental health evaluation. Heated gear was without question a godsend, however a BMW R1150GS provides nowhere near the wind protection of a full-on touring bike. My riding partner, a London Ontario resident and fellow Motor City Beemers member rode a fully-faired BMW R1200RT complete with a heated saddle – and no, he was not interested in trading rides. The ride back was considerably more comfortable. We toured the Southern Ontario wine country (no joke), meandering our way along the back roads from Port Dover to the outskirts of London. Its not exactly Napa Valley or the Bordeaux region of France, but local wine connoisseurs may find something to their liking here nonetheless, particularly during the summer months. Google “Ontario CA wine country”. We parted ways at London, and the remainder of the trip back was uneventful. Not too many twisties in Southern Ontario or Michigan. Ontario's roads generally speaking are in considerably better condition than Michigan's (who's aren't?), and highway patrol police presence was pretty much on par with what you might expect to find in the USA. Be aware that flagrant speeding in Ontario can result in jail time and vehicle confiscation. (Good luck getting your ride back.) Also be aware that Canada uses kilometers per hour, and the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) probably won't buy the “I didn't know how to convert Km/H to MPH” argument. Notably, my Garmin Zumo 390 conveniently converted most posted Canadian speed limits to MPH on the main map display. Construction Alert: The Blue Water Bridge, which connects Sarnia ON and Port Huron MI, will undergo a scheduled three-month resurfacing from April thru end of June 2015, reducing the number of available lanes by half. Avoid like the plague if possible. The ride out was a bit challenging. Sub-freezing temperatures at freeway speeds on an unfaired bike over several hours will, shall we say, keep your attention focused. But it is doable. After the February of 2015 we endured here in this neck of the woods, I - and many others I suspect - are well overdue for some serious wind therapy; albeit perhaps not quite that cold... But it felt good to get out and ride, and associate with other like-minded motorcyclists. So get out and ride. Anyone up for Friday, November 13, 2015? (The next Friday the 13th...) Official website: pd13.com
Ride safe, ride smart.
Complete Rider Training, Receive a High-Visibility Vest;
Public-sponsored training programs get a boost this year
New, specially designed high-visibility vests will be given to motorcycle riders who successfully complete a public-sponsored rider training class this year as part of a pilot project to dramatically increase the number of motorcyclists using high-visibility clothing or gear.
The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), which is providing the vests through federal traffic safety funds, expects that by the end of the summer nearly 9,000 newly trained riders with sharpened skills will also have a more visible profile on the road.
“This is a continuation of efforts to encourage motorcycle rider training, proper license endorsements, and the use of high visibility gear,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “We learned in focus groups that many riders think only of construction-type vests as options for high-visibility clothing. The vests we are providing combine visibility with function and will be something many riders will want to wear.”
Scientific studies have shown that a bright yellow-green color is the most noticeable to the human eye and has been used in safety clothing for construction workers, law enforcement, and emergency medical services personnel for many years. However, a 2013 observation survey of motorcycle riders in Michigan found that only about 5 percent wore any kind of high-visibility clothing or gear.
The new high-visibility vest, when worn, will make it easier for other drivers to see the motorcyclist and should reduce the number of near misses and crashes that occur when passenger vehicle drivers fail to see a motorcyclist in the mix of vehicles.
Along with increased visibility, rider training and the proper license endorsement are keys to reducing motorcyclist deaths and injuries. Nearly half the riders killed in crashes lack a cycle endorsement on their license.
Starting in June, vests will be provided to those who take and pass a public-sponsored rider training course which provides classroom and actual motorcycle operator training in a controlled, off-street environment. Successful completion of an approved course allows a person to waive the rider skills test requirement to add a motorcycle endorsement to their driver license.
VETMOTORSPORTS FOUNDER RECEIVES
AMA'S KOLB AWARD AT ROAD ATLANTA
COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 19, 2015 – Former American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) racer and VETMotorsports founder Peter Cline received the 2015 AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award at the AMA MotoAmerica event at Road Atlanta on Saturday, April 18. The award, named in honor of hall-of-fame motorcycle racer Hazel Kolb, recognizes people and entities that significantly increase the positive perception of motorcycling.
VETMotorsports is a non-clinical outreach program that honors and empowers injured warfighters through active participation in motorsports. The two-year-old organization already has helped more than 65 injured warfighters participate in 35 motorcycle and auto racing events across the United States.
“The Hazel Kolb Award means a great deal to us because it’s VETMotorsports’ partnership with the AMA that allowed the program to get off the ground in first place and to reach so many veterans in such a short period of time,” said Cline. “We’re currently losing 22 veterans a day to suicide, and our ability to develop and advance programs like this brings new meaning and a new mission into their lives. And that doesn’t just have a positive impact on motorcycling; it has a positive impact on families and communities. We’re incredibly proud of that, and this incredible recognition from the AMA.”
One of VETMotorsports’ warfighters will be embedded with MotoAmerica team Latus Motors Racing during the Road Atlanta race weekend. As a Triumph factory team, Latus Motors Racing is participating in Castrol’s VETMotorsports Performance Match Fund, which awards bonuses to VETMotorsports based on participating teams’ on-track results in 2015.
Founded in 2012, Veteran Empowerment Through Motorsports (VETMotorsports) is an award-winning, non-profit, non-clinical outreach program that embeds qualifying warfighters with existing race teams to provide them with unique motorsports experiences. By placing veterans in hands-on, high-stress, team environments that mimic active duty, the organization gives them direction, empowerment and challenges that help them focus on ability and moving forward rather than disability and the past. To date VETMotorsports has helped more than 65 injured warfighters participate in 35 motorcycle and auto racing events across the United States. To learn more about VETMotorsports, participate in the program, or make a donation, visit www.VETMotorsports.org.