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Two weeks ago I was invited to photograph OTR. In their own words, OTR (Out to Ride)…
“… is a riding club that was founded in 2007, with the vision to bring together people who have a love and passion for motorcycles. We are based around the Greater Toronto Area. We are not-for-profit, don’t keep any proceeds and support local businesses. We are a diverse group of people, from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. We share a strong bond, with deep roots in family, unity, friendship, support, and respect. Out To Ride continues to grow, staying true to these roots. As a family we always support and uplift each other, bringing a positive energy.”
The plan for the day was to meet up with them in Scarborough and follow them to a charity car wash event in support of The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation for cancer research. Throughout the year OTR take part in and support many charities. They believe in the importance of improving public awareness and opinions of motorcycle culture within their community. That is a very important and commendable activity.
I was the first to arrive at the meeting spot. Being that they are a sportbike club I was unsure how I would be received driving my Harley. Being a photographer you have to gain the trust of your subjects quickly if you want to have a successful shoot. If any of them had bad feelings towards Harley riders I would be in for a long day. In my last blog post I wrote about the “us versus them” attitude many people have that I hate so much. If there were bad feelings I wanted to make sure I came across positively not only as a photographer but as a Harley rider.
Luckily for me, as each one of them arrived, I did not get that feeling at all. I was welcomed with open arms and a lot of the riders showed interest in my bike. One of them asked me how many kilometres I had put on it this year and when I said just over 8000km (now creeping on 9000), I got a big smile and a fist bump. That’s what matters to these guys. Not what bike you ride, what your background is or the colour of your skin. My kind of people. OTR is comprised of a wide variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds. What unites them is a love of motorcycles, and in turn each other. I should have known better then to be worried. I guess it’s second nature.
I was immediately struck at the level of camaraderie and brotherhood within the club. There was a definite sense of belonging and brotherhood I had never seen in other motorcycle groups and gatherings. I can see how this would be attractive to someone wanting to join. There were a few prospects coming along for the ride that day that were close to being accepted into the club.
Once everyone arrived we all mounted up for the short rip down the 401 to Mississauga where the event was taking place. Photography aside, I was really pumped as this was going to be the first time I rode with so many bikes at once. Speed wise I was at a disadvantage but I was able to keep up well. I was having a ton of fun shooting as bikes flew by and all around me. Then things got interesting. The picture below could have very well been my last without quick reflexes and a little creative biting…let me explain.Read More»
You can get jaded pretty fast reading motorcycle forums. There is always an air of us versus them, me versus you. In this case, I am referring more specifically to Harley versus Sportbike riders. I was reading a thread today on GTAmotorcycle.com about the potential of Burlington passing a law banning loud bikes. The thread quickly turned into a hate-fest with each side pointing fingers at the other camp. This is nothing new and happens all the time with a wide range of topics. The fact of the matter is this- there are douchbags everywhere. Some have sport bikes and some have Harley/cruisers. I never did understand how people can be so ignorant as to stereotype an entire group.
I come from the little camp where people don’t care what you ride or what you look like. Two weekends ago I went on a nice ride with a mix of Harleys, a chopped Honda and sport bikes. One guy I have been friends with most of my life, one for a few month and the rest I met for the first time. Everyone on that ride was cool and had a true appreciation of everything with two wheels. I love connecting with new people with a shut-up and ride attitude; it’s the right attitude to have.
The contraband run is a ride from the GTA to Rice Lake stopping at the Trading Post in Alderville. The Trading Post has to be one of the coolest stores. First off, you expect to walk into a little convenience store but the place is huge. It was like walking into Doctor Who’s Tardis. While it looked small from the outside, it was big on the inside. It has a little of everything; part cheap Indian smoke shop, convenience store, super market, camping supplies, paintball supplies, fishing supplies, clothing store. There was even a four wheeler for sale and medieval armor near the entrance. That was just the first floor. On the second floor was an antique shop filled with old furniture, clothing and old technologies. I have never seen anything like it. There was even a guy sleeping in one of the old beds. I was so awestruck by the men behind the counter sporting mullets and smoking cigarettes, I forgot to take pictures.
After grabbing some cheap smokes, gas and some refreshments we hit the road in search of some good eats. We ended up at the Rhinos Roadhouse in Bewdley, which was a cool spot with a beautiful view of Rice Lake. Turns out it’s quite the biker stop over. There were hundreds of bikers there taking a break having food and drink. It was a really good atmosphere and the food was pretty good too.
With the sun starting to lower in the west it was time to make our way back. Motorcycling just seems to get better and better as I meet more like minded folk who enjoy the open road and a face full of wind. Shame another season is fast coming to an end.