Port Dover- Friday the 13th

Last May 13, 2016, I headed down to Port Dover, Ontario. For anyone that is a biker, this is the place to be on a Friday the 13th. Over 100,000 bikers get on their motorcycles and head down to Port Dover for the motorcycle rally. This has been happening since 1981. The event has been described as “the biggest single-day motorcycle event in the world”. I myself am not a biker. I don’t own one but I have been seen on the back of one, enjoying the fresh air against my face. It’s thrilling to be on the back of a motorcycle, and I’m sure it is even more thrilling driving one. 

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So I decided to attend with a friend that was going to the event. I was intrigued as to what the big deal was, plus a free ride on the back of a motorcycle- I wasn’t gonna pass up. Getting there was easy. You pass hundreds of bikers and even end up riding down with hundreds more in front of you. Getting into Port Dover is next to impossible unless you have a motorcycle. Not only are the streets full of motorcycles but most streets are off limits as they are filled with vendors. So after going down 5 streets filled with motorcycles and people wondering around, we found a parking spot in a row filled with motorcycles. As I got off the bike and looked around at all the motorcycles and bikers, my first thought was  this is a whole lot of leather.

Leather is the fabric of choice of bikers everywhere. From leather coats, to leather vests to leather chaps to leather riding boots. You do see men and even women wearing running shoes but for the most part, it is all leather. And the brand of choice is Harley Davidson clothing.

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Reading up on Harley- Davidson, I was surprised that they are an ethical business and follows a clear code of business conduct. This allows the company to focus on expanding the business but in a responsible manner that allows its customer to feel comfortable with the product they are purchasing. Wow!! On the Harley- Davidson website they go on to say their business conduct consists of these major points: Tell the Truth, Be Fair,  Keep Your Promises, Respect the Individual and Encourage Intellectual Curiosity.

This has helped propel the business in a responsible way that not only benefits the customer but also the employees, encouraging them to represent themselves and the company proudly and in socially responsible way. Harley-Davidson also takes great pride in getting involved in social issues establishing The Harley-Davidson Foundation.

The foundation’s mission quoted from their website is “To meet the basic needs of the communities where we work, improve the lives of our stakeholders and encourage social responsibility. We pursue partnerships with charitable organizations that help us invest in education, health and the environment.”

 Some of the large organizations they currently fund are YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, Disabled American Veterans. Reaching out to the community gives Harley-Davidson the opportunity to do good, but at the same time attract a broader market of potential buyers that would prefer to purchase from a socially responsible company. Knowing this I don’t feel bad about the Harley swag I have purchased.

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What about the other leather products I saw? I know that not all  are made by Harley-Davidson. Honestly, a year ago it wouldn’t have bothered me walking through a sea of people wearing leather, after all its the fashion that bikers wear. But not knowing about how leather is made bothers me. It’s not even the fact that everyone there was wearing some sort of leather (beside’s me that is) it’s the fact that there were vendor’s everywhere selling not only leather  products but t-shirts. People were lined out the door at some of these stores wanting to by t-shirts and other shirts with “Friday the 13th, Port Dover 2016”.

Its no different than going to see your favorite singer and buying a brand new t-shirt to prove you were there. They even had some t-shirts for cheap from the years before, but nobody cares how they were made as long as they were cheap and they got one or even 2. As I was walking around with my friend, I couldn’t believe my eyes and thought do these people even care how these clothes are made? Do they realize how leather is made? At one point my friend suggested I get up on one of the rocks they had and start informing people on the facts of how there leather was made. He thinks its funny cause he’s heard my little info session a couple times, but I really didn’t think anyone would listen to me regardless, after all they are there to have fun, get together with friends and enjoy the place.

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While I enjoyed going to Port Dover for the motorcycle rally and even met some new people, I will say bikers are the most sweetest people on earth regardless of the media and movies portray them to be, but I believe we need more ethical and sustainable clothing for them to wear and more options on where to buy them. We can inform them of how there leather is made and give them all the gruesome details on it but other than Harley- Davidson which all of them know about, they need more options on where to buy from. Even Port Dover should have a shop to buy ethical and sustainable motorcycle wear for those travelling down on Friday the 13th weekend. Bikers are a huge part of every community everywhere, we have many different brands that we can buy from but what about them? It’s not like I’ve ever seen leather chaps waiting for me to buy at the nearest thrift shop. Where are there options on where to buy ethically and sustainable motorcycle gear besides Harley-Davidson?

If anyone has any information on where bikers can buy ethically and sustainable items please pass them on.

 

 

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