Laconia Motorcycle Week Preview 2011

June 9, 2011
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Laconia Motorcycle Week, said to be the oldest and certainly one of the most revered biker rallies in the country, gets ready to kick off its 88th year. By this weekend, thousands of motorcyclists will be gathering along the banks of Lake
Motorcycles fill up Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach.
Lakeside Avenue and Weirs Beach will once again be overrun by motorcyclists as the 88th annual Laconia Motorcycle Week fires up this weekend.
Weirs Beach is the heart of the action during Laconia Motorcycle Week.

Winnepesaukee ready to once again cruise down Lakeside Avenue at Weirs Beach. The “Live Free or Die” state, like the rally itself, is steeped in tradition. You can almost feel the history in the quaint New England towns, from architecture influenced by the Colonial period to the dialect of the people who call this area home.

The party gets started this weekend and won’t stop until Sunday, June 19. Laconia Harley-Davidson is throwing a big kick-off bash with Jesse James Dupree and his band Jackyl scheduled to perform Saturday night, June 11. After that, it’ll be throttle wide-open as music will be spilling out of the bars at the Weirs, bike shows and manufacturers will take over the Lobster Pound, bikers will be embarking on poker runs around the lake and charting a course for the Notches and beyond.

Laconia shares motorcycle racing as a common thread with other rallies like Daytona Beach Bike Week. It all starts Monday when classic Triumphs, Ducatis, Nortons, BSAs and other retro racers will overrun New Hampshire Motor Speedway from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for U.S. Vintage Motorcycle Grand Prix Racing. Nothing like the sound and smell of those old bikes pushing it to the limit as they barrel around the banks of NHMS. Wednesday, the ever-popular Hill Climb Drag Races take place at Gunstock. Year-in and year-out the hill climbs are one of the biggest attractions during Laconia, so we expect nothing short of another stellar turnout in 2011. Motorcycle racing action returns to NHMS on Saturday for the 88th Loudon Classic for the longest-running motorcycle race in North America. Members of the American SportBike Racing Association put on a good show as they run flat out competing in the Loudon Road Race Series.

A few new wrinkles should add a fresh vibe to Laconia this year. Michael Ballard, Angie, Jesse from Jackyl and more members of the Full Throttle Saloon gang will make their premier appearance at the rally. The gang will be set up at the Heat Restaurant across from the Fun Spot and will be filming all week long for the “Full Throttle Saloon” series on truTV. Ballard intends on bringing an arsenal of entertainment, from the Wall of Death to Angieland. He also has plenty of live music on tap, including Blandini, featuring Jeff Blando of Vince Neil and Slaughter fame, and SKID ROW on Friday night, June 17th.

The Laconia Bike Show models brought smiles to the faces of competitors.
Pretty New England girls make the motorcycles in last year’s Laconia Bike Show look even better.

Our friends over at Dirico Motorcycles intend on having a big presence at Laconia this year. They’ll be debuting their two newest motorcycles, the potent 2011 Pro-Street Roadster and a motorcycle tailored for female riders called the Heartbreaker. Dirico also plans to debut its new apparel line and will be silk screening t-shirts and hats on-site at their trailer at the Lobster Pound next to Harley-Davidson.

And while we’re on the topic of The Motor Company, Harley-Davidson will be set up at two new locations this year, one in the heart of the Weirs action at the Lobster Pound which will have new product displays, seminars and the H-D1/Fit Shop experience. The second location is at Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith next to Laconia Harley-Davidson where they will be offering demo rides.

Speaking of Laconia Harley-Davidson, the dealership provides its own bounty of biker fare. The place attracted some serious traffic last year the day of the Harley-Davidson Ride-In Bike Show. This year, Laconia H-D will again be a place to put on your itinerary thanks to entertainment like the original Ball of Steel Show and live music daily, highlighted by the Jackyl concert we mentioned. Plenty of vendors like Kuryakyn, Corbin Seats and Zipper Performance will be setting up shop at Laconia H-D, too. Victory Motorcycles is the only other manufacturer we’re aware of that is offering demo rides, so if you’re itching to try out one of the new Victorys like the 2011 High-Ball, visit them at the Gilford Airport Plaza across from the Laconia Airport.

Warrant rocked the crowd at the Broken Spoke Saloon on Friday night.
Warrant put on a rocking show at the Broken Spoke Saloon in 2010, while Skid Row is prepared to do the same this year.

The Broken Spoke Saloon is also one of our favorite places to party at Laconia. They’ve got a beautiful permanent bar that doubles as a museum. During the week, there will be appearances by the Jagermeister girls, mechanical bull rides, loud pipe contests, and live music on their new indoor stage like the Led Zeppelin tribute band Houses of the Holy. Saturday night should be a hoot when famed comedian Gallagher breaks out the Sledge-O-Matic for another round of watermelon-smashing fun.

Custom bike shows are a big part of any good rally, and Laconia has its share on the docket. The Biker Build-Off at the Lobster Pound will pit six custom bike shops from around the Northeast against one another for a cash prize. It’s fun to stop by over the course of the week to watch the bikes take shape as the contestants have the task of completing a ground-up build in one week. The list of competitors includes our buddy Mickey Stevens and Irish Choppers out of Dudley, MA, and Pitoniak’s Custom Cycles from Belchertown, MA. The Haymond Law Firm Bike Show is on Tuesday, another one takes place at the Historic Train Station on Thursday, one sponsored by Vin & Deb at the Opechee Inn & Spa is scheduled for Thursday, while the 7th annual Laconia Bike Show takes place at Opechee Park on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wind is a constant at the top of Mt. Washington Auto Road so I did my best Titanic impersonation.
You can see forever on top of Mt. Washington.
Rain may have put a damper on the fireworks show Wednesday night  but they lit up the sky over Weirs Beach on Thursday.
The annual fireworks display over Weirs Beach is always a crowd favorite.

A trip to Laconia wouldn’t be complete without partaking in a scenic ride or two. Escorted rides are planned pretty much daily, like one that starts in Weirs Beach and travels to one of New England’s favorite motorcycle hangouts on the southern coast of Maine, Bentley’s Saloon. If you’re looking for a remote swimming hole or just want to enjoy a beautiful ride, the Kancamagus Highway scenic tour is world-class as it winds through the White Mountains. And every rider should ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road at least once. The eight-mile ride from the base to the summit is spectacular as it ascends over 6000 feet. From the peak, you can see several New England states. It’s open to motorcycles only on Monday, June 13, and Thursday, June 16. Participating in group or benefit rides is always satisfying as well. The POW-MIA Freedom Ride is scheduled for Thursday, June 16, and is followed by a vigil at Hesky Park in Meredith. Before that, the fifth annual Peter Makris ride takes place on Saturday, June 11. The memorial ride is in honor of the Naswa Resort’s patriarch, Peter Makris, and includes an escorted run around the lake. Funds raised from the event go to help the Laconia Fire Dept. and the Easter Seals NH ‘Veterans Count’ Program. The Naswa Resort is a great place to kick it. Belly up to the Nazbar beachside for a strong drink and enjoy a sunset on the lake. There’s always music going on and the Naswa Resort & Beach Bar is holding a bikini contest on Thursday the 16th at 3 p.m.

Then there are the rows and rows of vendors and clubs on Weirs Beach itself. The Weirs is the best place to people watch and to check out cool bikes. The fireworks show, an annual favorite, will light up the sky Wednesday night. If you’re ready for a break, spread a towel out and take a dip in the lake at the beach.

We’ll hit the ground running Monday to bring you daily reports from the event. We’d love to see as many Motorcycle USA fans as possible at the rally. If you can’t make it though, we’ll do our best to bring the action to you, so find your best party boots and “Climb ON” – it’s rally time, Laconia style!

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