They’re everywhere! This is not an event. It’s an invasion! Every hour the number of revving engines multiplies exponentially. Over 100 000 people and, perhaps, almost as many bikes have descended on Port Dover in Norfolk County. PD13 is billed as “the biggest single-day motorcycle event in the world,” and it certainly lives up to the hype. I have never experienced anything like this in all my life. Bikes of all colours, shapes and sizes flood the town and line the streets. It doesn’t stop. They just keep coming. On Friday, November 13, 1981 a small group of friends assembled, and now this massive tradition with music and food has grown to the extent that the PD13 website lists all future dates up to Friday, January 13, 2040!
There are so many active experiences in Norfolk on land and on water, but now we’re inspired to ride. Gopher Dunes, located on former tobacco fields, is one of the ten rounds in the motocross pro-national series and Canada’s toughest. “We are now also known as the toughest track in all of North America at the pro level”, owner Frank Schuster tells me. However, there is also a beginner track, and an increasingly popular 27 km marked trail system winding through 100 acres of woods and designed for all levels of riders.
Suited up with all the safety measures and precautions we learn the basics, get on our bikes, and slowly practice in an open field until we’re ready for the beginner’s course, and then onto the trail. Everything is regimented and safe so that when we get to the fun part we can really enjoy it and have a great workout too. As I’m getting comfortable with the gear shifting and the stopping and starting, our gentle, attentive instructor reminds me not to look down, and to look ahead. Shifting into second, I’m smoothly gliding through the clean air of the woods, over berms, around trees and splashing through puddles. It’s so easy, and I feel refreshed and totally invigorated. I speed up to my son to catch his smile and the rush of excitement on his face as we reach a clearing and race in the wind. “Next time we should bring Mom,” he says.
Families, couples, friends, even children are whizzing around on their bikes. We’re mesmerized by the more advanced riders sailing through the air as they propel over jumps. Honda has a program called Junior Red Riders for ages 6-12, and Red Rider Evolution for ages 13-17, where children get on 50cc or 110cc Honda bikes with the best equipment and learn to ride. The only one of it’s kind in Ontario, this draws enthusiasts from far and wide. For us, this is one of the most unique and exciting day-trips of the summer.
Norfolk County is an extraordinary region of Ontario–unique in its diversity of agriculture and topography, outdoor activities and culinary gems. We are reminded of this as we meander through the bikes on Friday, June 13th with fresh warm croissants stuffed with sharp cheese and sausage from The Urban Parisian. Walking along a sandy beach that could be in Miami, we notice we’re standing under a tall palm tree…in Ontario! For more info on why Norfolk County is “the next big thing” check out all there is to do and eat along Ontario’s southern shore in Norfolk County featured in DINE Travels Magazine, and then go there.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.