The Laconia Bike Show models brought smiles to the faces of competitors. The show featured 21 motorcycles battling it out for the ‘Best in Show’ trophy.
The streak of good luck is over. It ended Thursday night when a motorcyclist crossed over the centerline on Route 175 in Campton into the path of a pick-up truck. A 56-year-old Massachusetts man died from the injuries sustained in the accident, breaking the fatality-free streak Laconia Motorcycle Week was enjoying. The following day, another rider was killed when he failed to make a turn on Rollercoaster Road in Laconia. The unidentified man was on a Yamaha sport bike and must have been riding alone because nobody reported the incident until he was discovered by local residents. Police reports stated that he was not wearing a helmet, which seems to be the norm here.
One other motorcyclist had a close encounter of another kind when he struck a moose just north of Conway. Phillip Pignaturo of Holbrook, N.Y., saw the moose run out into the road and laid down his Yamaha Royal Star motorcycle but still struck the animal. Pignaturo suffered a punctured lung and other injuries while the moose was able to walk away from the accident. There are numerous signs warning of moose crossings along roadsides in the state and hundreds of collisions with the animals are reported yearly, some of them fatal.
Data taken from traffic counters show that attendance at the motorcycle rally in New Hampshire has declined in the last few years, but early projections say it’s up from last year. The Lakes Region Planning Commission places counters at 10 strategic locations around the area, including three in the Weirs, two on Weirs Blvd. and on other roads like Rollercoaster and Union Ave. The counters are up for 10 days, starting the Friday of the first weekend and ending on the Monday after Father’s Day. It will take a couple of weeks after that to process this year’s tally. It sure felt like attendance was up Friday because I spent more time doing the two-footed biker crawl than riding everywhere I went.
The City of Laconia Bike Show held its annual custom bike show in Opechee Park. The competition had 21 competitors battling it out in six different categories, including the most coveted trophy, ‘Best in Show.’ The majority of the motorcycles were custom-painted Harley-Davidsons with various states of customization, but there was one metric motorcycle, an old Honda cruiser called ‘Blue Balls,’ five super radicals, and a 1933 Indian Chout.
A gentleman known as John the Plumber traveled from Newport, New Hampshire to be in the show. He had an ultra-clean 1956 Harley-Davidson Panhead Chopper. The motorcycle’s engine started out at a stock 1200cc before John hot-
Peter Borelli, a welder and fabricator out of North Anson, Maine made this creative ‘lawn art’ motorcycle.
rodded it with some Wiseco High-Dome pistons and black nitrate valves. The Panhead sits neatly within a Paughco frame with a raked-out 16-inch over Springer leading the way. John reinforced it with four extra springs to stiffen it up because besides being show-quality, it’s his daily rider.
Merril Jarvis of Burlington, Vermont rode away with the ‘Best of Show’ prize for his long and low fat-backed radical custom with extraordinary, all-metal, hand-pounded body work that transitioned seamlessly from tank to rear end. Its eye-catching 121 cubic-inch TP Engineering powerplant was show-polished with glistening diamond-cut heads. Vance & Hines pipes, a 6-speed right-side drive transmission and an open belt primary completed the powertrain package. All its wiring was run internally, giving the front a tidy appearance. Silver tribal stripes over a rich red paint made the custom worthy of its ‘Best of Show’ honors.
Another notable motorcycle was Terry Hicks 2007 American Ironhorse Slammer. The Corinth, Maine resident earned the ‘Best Custom’ trophy though admittedly the bike was predominantly stock.
“That’s the category they put me in,” Hicks said.
The bike looked the part of full-on custom with its dual tanks split by the backbone and sharp-looking factory ghost flame paint. Hicks did tailor the bike to his personal taste by swapping out the stock bars for some highway bars and new mirrors. He also put on some new floorboards and changed up the lighting.
Rain may have put a damper on the fireworks show Wednesday night, but they lit up the sky over Weirs Beach on Thursday.
My favorite though happened to be an old rust-bucket. Literally. That’s because it is a full-sized motorcycle lawn art replica. Pete Borelli brought the behemoth over from North Anson, Maine. Borelli is a welder and fabricator by trade and the giant ‘custom’ looks like a John Deere special with its tractor-like seat. His attention to detail is impressive, because even though the tires lack rubber it looks like it could actually run. I mean, it was entered in a bike show so I had to check it out close to make sure that this wasn’t a treasure that the guys from American Pickers had yet to discover.
I next headed over to Meredith to check out Laconia Harley-Davidson’s Ride-In Bike Show. Approximately 25 motorcycles were in the process of being rated by three judges who would choose the first and second-place finishers in numerous categories, from Softails, Sportsters, and Touring motorcycles to the Custom class. The winner of each class received $100 with second-place earning a $20 gift certificate. The overall show winner, however, would receive the $400 grand prize and was selected by popular vote. Though I didn’t stick around to find out who the winners were, I did notice a blue 1972 Sportster XLCH Chopper receiving a lot of attention from the judges and the crowd. It’s owner, Sid Slark, sat proudly by answering questions the judges kept firing off and old Slark looked as if he’s probably owned the bike since it was new.
The Laconia Harley-Davidson dealership in Meredith was so busy it was causing a traffic jam in both directions. Besides the Ride-In Bike Show, a blues and classic rock band kept the party grooving from under the big tent right outside the dealership’s front doors. Big name vendors like Kuryakyn, Vance & Hines, and Performance Machine were on hand with their rigs with their aftermarket goodies out on display. Throw a bunch of smaller independent motorcycle gear and jewelry vendors into the mix and Meredith had its own mini-rally going on.
The hot day cooled off as night fell over the lake. After sitting over a heat-emitting V-Twin at idle in the sun all day, I was ready to cool off with a cold one which meant it was time once-again to make a bee-line for the Broken Spoke
Saloon. Eighties rockers Warrant were scheduled to light up the stage. The joint was packed. It was wall-to-wall people standing elbow-to-elbow to belly up to the bar. I went to the show with little expectations but as soon as Jani Lane belted out the first lick, my attitude changed. Lane can still hit the notes. His vocals blew me away. The guitarist was shredding his six-string, too. The crowd sang along with almost every song. I had forgotten how many of Warrant’s songs had gotten serious air play back in the day. It was definitely the rockingest show of Laconia Motorcycle Week. I stayed until they ended the night with their most popular hit, Cherry Pie. On my way out, I walked into the start of a six-person brawl. The Spoke’s security was on it before it got too out of hand, but by that time there was already a few cracked heads, some bloody lips and some bruised egos.
After spending the majority of Friday stuck in tire-to-tire traffic, it was refreshing to head out of town and explore the natural wonders of New Hampshire. It is a beautiful state, full of unspoiled forests and majestic mountains. We went
for a ride on one of the state’s most popular routes, the Kancamagus Highway. Trailheads and swimming holes are everywhere along the scenic route. Hikes to hidden waterfalls are abundant, and historic wooden covered bridges span many of its waterways. I’d tell you more, but you’ll have to wait and read the full travel story in a future edition of MotoUSA. We also rode up the incredible Mt. Washington Auto Road, which you can read about in the blog I wrote. The eight-mile adventure up the 6288-foot peak was one of the highlights of our Laconia Motorcycle Week adventure. We even saw a young black bear foraging in a meadow on the way back down. Gotta love New Hampshire for its abundance of natural beauty.