fun-loving, patch-wearing, V-Twin riding motorcyclists in town for a good time.
The 87th annual Laconia Motorcycle Week was blessed by a spate of good weather. Opening weekend was a little damp, but the closing weekend was sunny and hot, which brought a much-needed, last-minute boost to vendors. We only got caught out in the rain once on Wednesday night when a passing storm washed out the fireworks show. As they say in show business, ‘the show must go on’ and the fireworks were launched over the Weirs on Thursday night. And despite the popular misconception that rallies are all about boozing and hell-raising, there were plenty of stroller-pushing moms and dads out Thursday night who helped turn the event, at least for one night, into a family-friendly affair.
According to Laconia Police Capt. William Clary, the event kept his department very, very busy, but overall arrests were few and the rally overall was fairly uneventful. This was due in part to the heavy presence of officers everywhere. The
N.H. State Troopers were tucked into every nook-and-cranny, concealing themselves well in every possible parking lot and roadside. Even though there
were numerous clubs throughout the Northeast in attendance, we didn’t sense a whole lot of friction in the events we attended. The only scrap we saw was at the Broken Spoke Saloon that was started by a bunch of loud, drunk old-timers who were shooting off their mouths and deserved a pounding.
According to Jennifer Anderson, the director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, overall attendance was a little higher than last year. This is in line with the initial reports from counters placed around town by the Lakes Region Planning Commission, whose findings are still being processed. It got off to a slow start because of the inclement weather, but finished with a bang the final weekend as sunny skies brought out bikers in droves.
In our last report, two fatal accidents marred what had been an incident-free rally. One more rider was killed on Saturday afternoon after he failed to make a turn and struck a utility pole. The 42-year-old man was riding on Route 114
in Warner and New Hampshire State Police reported he was not wearing a helmet. This sadly brings the rally total to three motorcyclists who took their final ride. It also emphasizes the importance of wearing a helmet. I’m all about freedom of choice, but I advocate safe riding as well. Wearing a helmet doesn’t ensure that you’ll survive a crash, but it damn sure increases the odds.
There are always plenty of charity rides and benefit runs at rallies. One such worthwhile cause held during Laconia Motorcycle Week was the 17th Annual POW/MIA Freedom Ride also known as “The Ride to the Rock.” Hundreds of riders with American flags waving proudly behind their bikes made the run from Winnipesaukee Crossing in Gilford to “The Rock” in Hesky Park in Meredith. Many of those in attendance were veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. “The Rock” is New Hampshire’s original POW/MIA memorial where members of the Northeast POW/MIA Network held a vigil. The
This vet and his unique rocket-launching Harley-Davidson were a big hit on Lakeside Ave. during Laconia Bike Week. He also was one of the lead riders for ‘The Ride to the Rock.’
ride is in honor of veterans who were prisoners of war as well as those who never returned. The New England Region Rolling Thunder organization was well represented, with chapters from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire in attendance. The Freedom Ride originated 17 years ago in an effort to bring attention to American Prisoners of War/Missing In Action and the battles that the families of these soldiers still wage. It initially was fueled by dissatisfaction with the government’s efforts to account for all service men and women missing from Vietnam.
The 18th annual Gunstock Hillclimb was once again a roaring success. Competitors raced up the slope in drag-style races on 30-foot-wide paths, engines screaming as they rocketed and jumped their way to the top. This day would be ruled by the sleds, with a new ‘King of the Hill’ being crowned. Favian Stroud of Gilford edged out reigning champion Ryan Connelly for best time of the day on his nitrous-powered Arctic Cat snowmobile with an 8.483-second run. Connelly would still claim the 600cc class with an 8.596-second dash up the hill. Shayna Lindquist of Barre, Maine took top honors in the Women’s Class with a time of 10.185 seconds. Overall, 208 competitors participated in the day-long event in classes ranging from the 80cc Juniors to the 750cc Class.
On Saturday, Stephen Thomson of SDS Cycles took the $5000 cash prize as the winner of the Laconia Roadhouse’s Biker Build-Off. His hybrid pro-street motorcycle with a raked-out front end and a Springer fork named ‘Sore Ass’ received the most votes from fans who visited the tent located next to the Lobster Pound throughout the week-long contest. The motorcycle features a beefy 120 hp engine, but Thomson claims that output can be boosted between 40 to 80 percent courtesy of its turbocharger. He plans on using his winnings to market his newly patented turbocharger.
A happy couple cruises down Lakeside Ave. with their cool sidecar. Motorcycles with sidecars and trikes were everywhere in Laconia.
The Broken Spoke held its own friendly Biker Build-Off between popular custom builders. Dave and Jody Perewitz were matched up against Wink Eller and Brigette Bourget. Dave and his daughter Jody worked together on a custom that combined classic and contemporary motorcycle design elements. The old was represented by its stretched gas tank and tubular frame. The new was seen in its industrial-strength fork, racing wheels and Buell-style perimeter front brakes. Eller, who holds 64 land speed records, took a Salt Flat racer with a streamliner-like body he originally built in 2006 and refurbished it. The original ran with a turbo-charged 120 cubic-inch powerplant that was good for 193 mph on the Salt. He swapped that out for a 127 cubic-inch mill claimed to generate 168 hp and 174 lb-ft. of torque when running on methanol. Eller intends to convert the stretched-out, ground-skirting motorcycle to an all hand-control arrangement so that a paraplegic war veteran can ride it the next time it heads to the Salt.
Meeting new people is one of the best parts of any rally. This would hold true at Laconia Motorcycle Week, where we had a chance to talk shop with New York’s Satan Cycles and Worcester, Massachusetts’ Irish Choppers. Satan grew up in a true biker family and is full of life and energy when talking about bikes. He has a certain ‘joie de vivre’ about him that is contagious. And don’t let his demonic moniker fool you, he’s actually a family man who is very civic-minded. But I’m not saying he’s a saint. I would say that Irish Chopper’s Mickey Stevens has a more saint-like personality. Maybe that stems from the fact that he served as a police officer for 28 years. Maybe because he’s a proud Irish-American who lives by the credence of ‘Family
Custom bike builder and Salt Flat legend Wink Eller was one of the featured guests at the Broken Spoke Saloon.
Above All.’ I enjoyed my conversations with each of them, and to learn more about both, be sure to check out our Laconia Custom Builder Feature – Irish Choppers article and the Conversations with Satan – Cycles, That Is blog.
For my first trip to the Laconia motorcycle rally, it was a treat to be riding a great bike like the 2008 Dirico Speedster. The bike looks like a vintage ‘50s cruiser but has the perks of modern performance like a six-speed transmission and a Harley-Davidson 110 cubic-inch Twin Cam B engine. Its throw-back styling had people continually asking me what year it was. Many were surprised to hear that it was a newer bike. Everybody I talked to loved the color-matching paint that is splashed on everything from the fork to the handlebars to the swing arm to the covers. They also liked how the controls and Vance & Hines pipe are blacked-out instead of blinged up. And being in such wonderful riding country, it was cool to be on a bike that not only was a conversation starter, but was all-day-riding comfortable. We spent one day exploring the Kancamagus scenic byway and Mt. Washington Auto Road where the creature comforts like its Bawler solo seat
made the ride that much more enjoyable. The unspoiled forests and abundant waterways of New England are the inspiration of poets like Thoreau and Longfellow. The fact that the day we set aside to ride up Mt. Washington coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Mt. Washington Road race almost threw a wrench in our plans, but fortunately the road opened back up after the race was over.
The 87th annual Laconia Motorcycle Week is in the books, but we will remember the new friends we made, the great rides we took, the killer shows we saw at the Laconia Roadhouse and the Broken Spoke Saloon, and the tons of killer bikes we saw on Lakeside Avenue. Hope to see you there next year.