Throw your arms in the air like you just don’t care! The Laconia Motorcycle Rally is in full swing headed into the final weekend.
The sun finally came out at the Laconia Motorcycle Rally 2011. And so have the bikers. What started out as a slow week is quickly picking up as hotel signs around the area are now reading “No Vacancy.” Traffic on Weirs Boulevard is beginning to clog up and finding a parking spot on Lakeside Avenue is becoming a challenge.
Whenever you put thousands of motorcyclists together in a party atmosphere, accidents are bound to happen. One fatal accident attributed to the rally happened outside of Pittsfield when a motorcyclist veered out of his lane and into the path of a Honda Pilot. In a separate incident, another rider suffered head injuries when he crashed on Route 25 outside of Meredith. Police are trying to determine what caused the man to lay his Honda down. The common factor between the two? Neither was wearing a helmet. We bring this to your attention because we want everybody who comes to the rally to get home safely. Rallies are a dangerous environment to ride in, so be careful out there, people.
Besides the inclement weather, there’s another reason we believe contributed to the slow start this year. The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup! I honestly believe many people didn’t want to leave home until the series had finished. The Bruins have a devout following around here and spirits are on high since they won. You see Bruins jerseys, hats and tees on people everywhere. We took in the games at the Naswa Resort’s beach bar. Nothing like sitting next to the lake under a tent’s canopy with your feet in the soft sand watching the game on a widescreen TV drinking a cold one. The Naswa’s Beach Bar is a popular hangout here in Laconia and was a cool place to chill out and watch the games, even though I thought we might not get in when we hesitated with our answer when the front door bouncer asked if we were Bruins fans. Despite hailing from the West Coast close to Vancouver, he fortunately still let us in.
After taking the red eye flight Sunday night, we hit up New Hampshire Motor Speedway all bleary-eyed before we even found our hotel to take in the vintage motorcycle races. The group that puts it on, the United States Classic Racing Association is claimed to be the oldest vintage motorcycle racing organization in the U.S. They put on a top-notch affair – well-organized, entertaining, and obviously orchestrated by a bunch of passionate people. They work hard to preserve the spirit of motorcycle racing the way it used to be, without a bunch of big name sponsors, without the multi-million dollar egos, and without the influence of high tech electronics. The camaraderie was contagious and the fact that these people put it all on the line for the love of the sport was not lost on us. For more details, be sure to check out our “U.S. Vintage Grand Prix Revs up at Laconia” article.
Our next Laconia venture took us to Weirs Beach to check out the action on vendor’s row and to see what was going on over at the Lobster Pound. There we got a chance to talk to some of the people competing in the Biker Build-Off Competition. Six custom motorcycle shops are working hard to complete ground-up builds in one week. It’s a daunting task, working under the scrutiny of the public eye outside of the familiarity of your own garage. Complications always arise, like Shaun Ready Customs welder going out on them, sending them scrambling back to their home shop to get their back-up one.
Fortunately, Shaun is back in action and is busy reworking what once was a raked-out chopper into a sportier ride. He started by cutting down the rake and throwing on a shorter, beefier fork. He’s upping performance further by using a 98 cubic-inch engine, a combination of a Twin Cam upper and Evo lower with Delcron race cases. Stromberg dual carbs feed the beast. The hand banger has a 21-inch tall, 80-spoke front tire and forward controls. In its conversion from chopper to rocket racer, Shaun’s thinking about using café racer-style handlebars.
Jack Fiorvante dons the mask as he furiously works on his project in Laconia’s Biker Build-Off Competition.
While hanging out at the Biker Build-Off, we ran into a legend of the NYC chopper scene, English Don.
Deadwood Choppers Jack Fiorvante worked feverishly on his project solo. Fiorvante is using a 107 cubic-inch S&S engine for his custom mated to an Ultima 6-speed transmission. It also has a 3-inch Ultima open primary belt drive. He’s divided the tank to support both gas and oil while the frame, fenders, and front end are all original. The bottle-shaped Springer he’s created ties perfectly into the Jack Daniels theme of the bike (which he admits he likes to drink). There’s some other prototype parts, too, which weren’t on the bike yet, but he did say he plans on using copper caps and lines when it comes time. The winner of the Biker Build-Off will receive a $5000 cash prize. The contest is chosen by “People’s Choice” and the winner will be announced at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
While we were there, we also got a chance to meet a legendary figure in the New York chopper scene, English Don. This is a man who, along with close friend Indian Larry, has raised a little hell in his life, to say the least. He’s also built some incredible motorcycles, like the iconic 4-speed, 1981 Shovelhead called “Babylon Taxi” as well as his ‘Digger Swingarm’ bikes. English Don is currently on his “Ride Like Hell” tour, which we talk about more in our “Meeting a Legend at Laconia – English Don” blog.
A trip to the Funspot revealed that both Star Motorcycles and Can Am are two more companies offering demo rides, a fact we weren’t aware of before. It was during this trip where we also discovered one of the more curious storylines of Laconia, the Full Throttle Saloon’s decision to set up shop right across the street from the Broken Spoke Laconia. The two are huge Sturgis rivals and 2011 marks the first year Michael Ballard has decided to set up camp in Laconia. The Broken Spoke Saloon has seen a bit of inner turmoil recently when Jay Allen decided to step down as manager and head promoter of the Broken Spoke Saloon reportedly due to differences of opinion between him and
Target Logistics. The Full Throttle Saloon has to be cutting in to the coffers of the Broken Spoke Saloon’s Laconia location. We also noticed a long-time Broken Spoke bartender now working across the street at its competitor. Interesting, very interesting.
Wednesday came along which meant it was time to head to the Gunstock Resort for the 19th annual hill climbs. Talk about fun! The sun came out for the first time this week, people grabbed their coolers and lawn chairs and it was a good ol-fashioned party at Gunstock. Riders competed head-to-head in a drag-style competition up a 500 foot, triple-tiered slope. Bikes ranged from 50cc to the 750cc-and-up class. There were quads, sleds, and even a golf cart racing up the hill. Girls were throwing down just as hard as the boys. Fathers would race up the hill and frequently were followed later on by their sons and daughters. It was a true family affair which once again was one of the major attractions of Laconia Motorcycle Week. Go to our “19th Annual Gunstock Hill Climb at Laconia” article for more info.
Yesterday we finally got to do some riding. Our buddies over at Dirico Motorcycles set us up with a bagger prototype they have. The wheels in Mark Dirico’s head are constantly churning. Now he’s gone and put a counter-balanced engine in
an FL. We went for a ride around the New Hampshire countryside looking for covered bridges, a story we plan on sharing with readers more in-depth at a later date.
Now the weekend is here and there’s plenty more concerts and commotion to get in to. The rain is back but we’re bucking up and plan on taking in the Skid Row show at the Full Throttle Saloon tonight. Long live the hair bands. Luckily, I left my mullet wig and the Spandex at home so I don’t embarrass myself. There’s more fun to be had at the Laconia Rally 2011, so “Climb On” with Motorcycle USA.