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A Brave Crew Braces for PD13 in March

If you've never been to Friday the 13th, prepare yourself • Credit: Virgil Knapp
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A Brave Crew Braces for PD13 in March

Friday the 13th comes at some inconvenient times

“You know it’s cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold….”   -Anonymous

It’s a state of mind, really…

That’s the only way you can even come close to finessing an explanation as to why we can throw on shorts and a t-shirt and head outside on a sunny March day, and then pull the long underwear out of the ‘winter drawer’ in September.

There are some who put their ride to bed at the first sign of leaves falling to the ground; there are others who firmly believe that there is no such thing as a beginning and an end when it comes to the term ‘riding season’.

I started thinking about the whole topic of cold weather riding when I began making plans for the last of three Friday the Thirteenth celebrations in Port Dover for 2015. February, March and November; not exactly a rider’s choice for a trip to the shores of Lake Erie in Southern Ontario. 

But it’s not just ‘penciled in’ on my agenda; it is written on my calendar with a permanent marker.

And, unless the weather renders the roads unsafe or unwise to travel on two wheels, this KAT will be on her way to Port Dover, chill in the air or not.

I know someone else who plans to be there as well. He has made it his mission to attend every Friday the Thirteenth celebration since November 1998. In Port Dover this past February and March for Friday the Thirteenth, he fully intends to hop on his bike and ride to take in the festivities a full 17 years after his initiation into the tradition.

I know him as Paul. 

Most people know him by another name: Thong Man.

The Thing About Thongs

“My first trip to Dover was in a cold weather month (November 1998),” Paul explained when I asked him about his penchant for both Dover and thongs. “The next year, it was so hot in August that I rode the strip in one of my plain thong bathing suits. Then in April 2001, I decided to wear a thong to fit with the time of year (an Easter theme) and it just continued from there. I’ve enjoyed creating looks that have to do with the time of year, and at last count, my thong collection numbered over 280.”

THONG MAN MARCH 2015 1210 2

When I asked Paul about the cold weather Dover experience he remembers the most, he was quick with his answer.

“Oh, that’s easy,” he laughed. “October 2006. We ran into hail and sleet on the way out to Dover, and a severe snowstorm on the way home.” They even had to make a pit stop and wait it out at the McDonald’s in Caledonia because the flakes were so big that they couldn’t see the cars in front of them. 

“Baby – that’s my ride – has been a part of my life for over 30 years,” he says proudly. “It’s a 1979 / 650 Honda CB 4-cylinder and has over 200,000 miles on it. Rebuilt it at least four times.”

Count on catching a glimpse of Paul (maybe a little bit more of him than you were planning to see) if you intend to head to Port Dover for November’s event. He looks forward to seeing you there…

March Memories

CHRIS 1210 1Chris’ bike on the March 2015 trip to Friday the Thirteenth in Port Dover

The early part of 2015 will be remembered as one of the coldest in recent memory. That fact didn’t stop my friend, Chris and his wife, Bonnie, from hopping on their bike and heading to Port Dover in March. When I asked him to tell me about the experience, he was more than happy to share his thoughts.

“The weather was pretty cool when we started out, but it actually warmed up a little later in the afternoon. I don’t mind riding in the cold weather as long as the roads are dry and not snow-covered;            

Wet roads at 3 or 4 degrees can be a bit slippery. Riding in the cold means bundling up and sometimes the extra clothes under your leathers make it a little bit harder to maneuver your body around and keep an eye on things happening around you.”

CHRIS 1210 2Chris’ wife and riding partner, Bonnie

Practical and safety issues aside, Chris stated the obvious about the fact that the main difference between a warm weather Port Dover trip and one in the colder months is the attendance and the number of bikes on the roads. “I’ve seen the looks from people in cars and I always imagine that they are thinking things like ‘What a nut case’ or ‘There’s a dedicated biker’. He acknowledges that he’s been called both. “I do a lot of cold weather riding because my bike is my vehicle until the snow flies, and in two riding seasons, I’ve racked up almost 50,000 kms on my 2002 VStar 1100.” 

The Seasons Aren't the Only Things That Are Changing

Nearing the end of my freshman (full) season of riding, I have found myself starting to think ‘more and more like a biker’ (as my best friend and mentor says quite often). Not only have I started acquiring things like lined gauntlet gloves and different pieces of clothing to keep me warm as I ride deeper and later into the season, I’m also starting to think about the differences between what I experience, need, and want from both my warm and cold weather riding. 


On one particularly cold and miserable day in October, the difference between the forty-five minute ride to my mentor’s place—to install a taller windshield on Ruby—and the ride back home again was like night and day. With the taller windshield, I could have easily stayed out well past dark and still have enjoyed the ride. I couldn’t believe how different my riding experience had been with a simple change in windshield height.

Ask me about a back road ride later in the month when the weather had turned unseasonably warm however, and I would tell you that I truly missed the wind in my face and the rush of the air around me and echoing in my ears. It just wasn’t the same, and although I enjoyed the ride, I didn’t find the experience as fulfilling. 

As a rider, I’m developing a sense of self. 

As a rider, I’m learning how to live in the moment and yet still appreciate the myriad of options that lie ahead of me as my tastes change and grow and I gain more experience. I love Ruby to the ends of the road and back, but there’s a little voice inside me that’s been getting louder, reminding me that although your first bike can absolutely remain your forever ride, never say ‘never’ when it comes to opening yourself to new experiences and the possibility of rising to the challenge of trying something new. 

A Christmas Miracle in October

FOR EVAN 1210 4

One of my most recent cold weather rides was in late October of this year when I explored the area in and around the beautiful little Ontario town of St. George.



Sunny but cold. Really cold. I didn’t mind the temperature because the reason I was heading to St. George was to check out all of the Christmas decorations that were being put up in preparation for the town’s first Santa Claus Parade of the season.

FOR EVAN 1210 2

That’s right, I said first Santa Claus Parade. But this was more than just a parade: it was a whole movement of goodwill and love and about a town coming together to give a local little boy one last Christmas.

You can read all about it here.

FOR EVAN 1210 1

I took the time to tour around town and check out all of the Christmas decorations and special displays that had been put up over just a matter of days.

I rode past Evan’s house and said a silent little prayer of hope and encouragement for him.

I stopped for a couple of pictures at a friend’s house, and we talked about how magical it was to see Evan’s story touching the hearts of so many people.

FOR EVAN 1210 3

Sometimes, you ride to forget. And then there other times, like the day I headed to St. George, that you ride to make a point of remembering. It is a ‘Kat n’ Ruby’ memory that I will keep forever…

Grey Cup Sunday 2014

GREY CUP SUNDAY 2014 1210 1

Following on the heels of my trip to Bala’s Cranberry Festival last year, I started to get a little bit more ‘adventurous’ when it came to braving colder temperatures. The pictures don’t look like much, but stopping at a local Christmas tree lot on a Grey Cup Sunday afternoon ride, Ruby’s appearance turned more than a few heads. 

“Aren’t you cold?” was the typical question from passers-by.

“Yeah,” I answered with a grin from ear to ear. “Isn’t it great?”

GREY CUP SUNDAY 2014 1210 2

Boxing Day Meet and Greet

I was able to ride right up until almost the end of December last year. After the temperatures dropped to well below freezing and we got a heavy blast of ice and snow in the new year, Ruby took some time to go into hibernation for a couple of months. But Boxing Day 2014 was bright and just above the freezing mark, and the urge to ride was simply too strong.

BOXING DAY 2014 1210 1

I met up with my mentor and riding partner around the back of a 403 Timmy’s, riding Ruby right up  next to his big, bad beast of a Harley. We were both wearing our riding masks, but you didn’t need to see our faces to know that we were both grinning ear to ear.

I suppose being a bit crazy is a ‘rider’s thing’ because it wasn’t too long before several more bikes rumbled through the parking lot and pulled up next to us.

BOXING DAY 2014 1210 2

We all nodded to each other, understanding without saying a word that we were all thinking and feeling the same things. I have to say that the deeper I find myself into this world of the brother and sisterhood, the more I have grown to love and appreciate the people and places along the way.

We all stood together – sipping our teas & coffees, chatting about how great it was to be out riding, laughing about the looks we got from cagers as we booted it down the highways and country roads to get there, admired each other’s rides, and swapped stories – for a good half hour. And then, as if guided by some collective internal clock, we all seemed to glance at the setting sun at the same time declare that we’d better get on our way before it got much later.

It may sound like a bit of an odd thing to say, but despite the gifts that I’d found under the tree the day before, my Boxing Day ride was the best Christmas present I received last year.

Riders Ride

The bottom line is that when you’re a rider, you ride. Although some prefer to tuck their bikes away around the time that Thanksgiving rolls around, there are others who make a point to try and get a ride in at least once in every month of the year. I am happily expanding my riding season as I gain more experience and my level of skill increases. Who knows? It just might be a really cool way (no pun intended) to ring in the New Year…


A quick reminder to get your entries in for the ‘What A Ride’ Photo Contest… Deadline is November 15th, 2015, and the winners will be announced just in time for Christmas!

See you in Dover!

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