If you would have asked me in early 2014 what my plans were for the upcoming riding season, I never would have guessed that my summer was going to consist of complete submersion into the Harley culture. In a recent ‘What a Ride’ podcast, Mike Jacobs describes my adventure perfectly, stating that I experienced “motorcycle trial by fire” and “bathed in the juices of everything biker” by attending the three largest biker events in Ontario (and all in one summer)! Not only that, but I got to experience these events riding several different Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I can’t even begin to sum up in one article what it was like to experience the ultimate Harley Tour of Ontario, but I’m sure going to try!
PORT DOVER – FRIDAY 13th (JUNE 2014)
Riding alongside my mother, and die-hard Harley girl, we cruised to the small town of Port Dover, located along the South Coast of Ontario. This was mom’s first major ride on her newly acquired 2011 Dyna Super Glide, and boy did she look great on that bike! Complete with nicely polished chrome, a full shield to duck behind when it rained that day, and large saddle bags to keep our gear dry, she fit right in with the large Harley-Davidson population at this event.
The Friday 13th event is the epitome of biker events in Central Ontario. If you have a bike, then it’s assumed you will take the day off work, or book sick, or heck, quit your job, so that you can join thousands of riders in celebrating the biker lifestyle. For this event, the ride is just as important as the destination, with many riders coming from all over Ontario and beyond. Friday 13th is a giant party, with Harley’s and custom bikes galore, packed patio’s, the medley of rock bands playing at every pub, restaurant and bar, and the smell of BBQ lingering in the air. If you haven’t been yet, this is a “must go to” event for every biker out there.
NEW LISKEARD BIKERS REUNION (JUNE 2014)
My next adventure took me to Bikers Reunion 2014, known as the largest motorcycle event in the North. The journey started at Deeley Harley-Davidson, where I fell in love…with a 2014 Night Rod Special. I found myself attracted to the sleek, low design, and the matte black paint scheme. This bike was made for me.
Up until this year, I had primarily ridden a sport bike, so I wasn’t sure how the Harley would compare to my speedy Suzuki SV650. I found myself surprised at how quickly I adapted to the forward riding position and controls. The V-rod handled well; it navigated corners like a champ, and did so with great finesse. The ride was smooth, comfortable, and powerful. Although the bike can look intimidating to some, I found myself able to handle it quite well. I did miss having a windshield though, but that is something that can be easily fixed in the future.
Riding North, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the journey or the destination. [Insert: “to learn more about the journey to New Liskeard, click HERE. I found myself pleasantly surprised; the event really had something for everyone, including lawn tractor races, a roller derby and motorcycle stunt show. Best of all was the parade of Harley’s and every other make of motorcycle you could imagine. The parade was a very humbling and emotional experience. You see, the Bikers Reunion was originally started in 2004 as a fundraiser for the cancer ward at the local hospital, and with over 5000 bikes and $120,000 raised at the 2014 reunion, the event continues to grow each year.
I rode a Dyna Low Rider in the parade, which started at Temiskaming Hospital, and proceeded through all of the small towns served by the hospital. The bike was perfect for the parade. With a more upright riding style, I found it comfortable and easy to cruise on. The sound of the engine was louder than the V-rod I had previously ridden, and it sounded great when I revved it up a bit while beeping and waving at parade-watchers. Truly an amazing experience that I hope you all have the chance to get to this upcoming year
Before the weekend ended, I made sure to test out the Electra Glide Ultra Classic that my friend Mike had been riding. This was a BIG bike, and definitely was the most intimidating of all three bikes we had with a full faring, luggage bags galore and all the bells and whistles you could imagine. The bike itself was quite heavy for my small 5’7” frame, so I found it a bit difficult to move around. However, once cruising on the road, I found myself enjoying the comfort of the bike, with foot rests, radio, and more. That faring sure made for a warm ride though – since it was over 26 degrees that day I felt like I was roasting a bit in my riding gear. While this bike sure is nice, I’d prefer to stick with the V-rod which is more suited to my riding style and size.
KINGSTON HOG RALLY (JULY 2014)
Speaking of the V-rod, I found myself riding one from Clare’s Harley-Davidson a few weeks later. This time, I was riding a 2008 Night Rod Special, and was headed to the coveted annual Harley Owners Group (“H.O.G.”) Rally in Kingston, Ontario. The quaint city attracted over 1,100 Harley-Davidson owners from across Canada and the United States to celebrate their love and appreciation for Harley’s. The event featured bike games, an H-D Show ‘n Shine, Harley-Davidson demo rides, Kingston Police Precision Riding Show, a National Tattoo at Fort Henry, fireworks and so much more!
Over the course of two days, I met some wonderful people and riders who shared stories of travelling via two-wheels. I learned how riding a Harley brought a couple together, and how being part of the Harley Owners Group is a great way to make new friends and connect with old ones. The comradery and acceptance among members was evident as I spoke to people from across Canada about how they came to be part of the Harley Owners Group. For many of them, riding a Harley had always been a part of their lives; however, some were new riders and looking to making connections and enjoy the social activities that come along with being a member.
After only a few days in Kingston, I had already made some new friends, and was (jokingly) voted in as an honorary Vice President of a Chapter. I left Kingston with a warm feeling, happy that I was given the opportunity to attend this event. The feeling was a tad bittersweet as well though, as I knew I had to return my V-rod to Clare’s.
That’s when I realized why everyone at this event (and the other ones I attended) shared such a love and passion for Harley’s (or perhaps why I did anyways). It’s because you really do become ‘one with the bike’, as they say. A Harley becomes a part of you, almost like a riding buddy. That V-rod kept me company on a 4-hour ride to a new destination, and it got me there safely. It acted as a great conversation piece, and contributed to me getting to enjoy a new event and meet some new friends. I have ridden other bikes before, and nothing has given me this feeling like a Harley. So, what does that say? I guess it’s time for me to start shopping!