They gathered by the thousands on San Fernando Road in front of Glendale Harley-Davidson, the grey mist of the morning marine layer slowly yielding to sunshine. A party-like atmosphere had already been established thanks to Max Mueller’s band filling the air with guitar-driven music. Soon, Love Ride founder Oliver Shokouh and Grand Marshal Jay Leno would take the stage to address the motorcyclists who had gathered for the 28th annual Love Ride, one of the biggest one-day motorcycle charity events around. The bellow of Big Twins would soon resonate throughout the Glendale area as riders fired up their motorcycles to begin the hour-long ride to Castaic Lake for an afternoon of biker revelry, highlighted by a concert performed by country stars Montgomery Gentry.
The benefactor of this year’s event would be Autism Speaks, the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the nation. Autism is a developmental brain disorder that affects an estimated one in every 110 children. Its cause remains unknown, making the altruism of efforts like the Love Ride even more important. Love Ride 28 grossed $375,000 so far, but organizers still have a few expenses to foot which will cut into this total. Regardless of the exact dollar amount, hundreds of thousands of dollars will soon come to the aid of the organization courtesy of big-hearted bikers who rose up to support the cause.
Bikers lined up early on San Fernando Road outside of Glendale Harley-Davidson to make the ride to Lake Castaic for the 28th annual Love Ride.
The ride to Castaic had the feel of a parade, fueled by people standing on overpasses along I-5 waving hands and American flags to riders passing by beneath them. Leno would lead the procession aboard an Ultra Classic Electra Glide, The Tonight Show host a seasoned rider. The closer riders got to Castaic, the more the day warmed up to SoCal standards, golden sunshine and temperatures in the 80s.
At the lake, attendees were treated to a concert by country stars Montgomery Gentry. The duo entertained the appreciative crowd with hits like “Something to Be Proud Of” and “What Do Ya Think About That.” The band was a good choice for the event, because not only do they ride, but their down-home lyrics were easily relatable to the predominantly blue collar crowd. While many crowded the area in front of the stage, others chose to lounge out of the sun in the shade of the park’s trees as the lake’s natural amphitheater offered up excellent acoustics, no matter where you took in the concert.
With vendors, food and beer booths, bike shows and motorcycle drill teams, it was a rally-like atmosphere at Castaic. Actor Danny Trejo, a familiar face in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez movies, had a booth set up promoting Trejo’s Hardtime Designs where the “Machete” bike, built by Manny Hernandez, was also on display. In a different area of the venue, five “9/11 Angel Cars” were also prominently displayed. The pearl white Camaros have custom paint honoring the victims and first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to the Fueled by the Fallen website, “One car honors the first responders at Ground Zero, two represent the twin Trade Towers, another commemorates those lost at the Pentagon and the fifth Angel Car honors the flight victims lost on board each of the four flights. In recognition, each Angel Cruiser lists the names of every victim lost on that day.” Seeing how we just passed the 10th anniversary of the attacks, it was a fitting tribute.
Utah-based ATK was on hand with its 2012 motorcycles on display. ATK CEO Frank White was attending with his autistic son Jeff, who happens to love motorcycles. ATK shared a booth with Lightning Motorcycles Corp., maker of the “World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle.” Richard Hatfield, the driving force behind Lightning, rode the electric superbike in the lead group heading out of Glendale and at Castaic was on hand to field questions concerning electric technology. Hatfield said interest in Lightning’s superbikes is high and development on the production models is coming right along. The company doesn’t intend on resting on its laurels and will continue to push the boundaries of electric motorcycles.
(L) There was plenty of star power at Love Ride 28. Jay Leno once again served as Grand Marshal. (M) Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston donated his 2006 Softail to help raise money for Autism Speaks. (R) Actors Danny Trejo and Sons of Anarchy’s Emilio Rivera were on hand to support Love Ride 28.
Plenty of star power supported the cause, from Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, who donated his personal Harley to raise money for the cause to Robert Patrick, the well-known villain in Terminator 2 and president of Boozefighters Chapter 101. John Radman is probably Cranston’s newest biggest fan after winning the 2006 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail the Emmy-winning actor donated in support of the Love Ride. Patrick is a long-time supporter of the Love Ride and helped out with emcee duties along with Sons of Anarchy actor Emilio Rivera and popular actor and musician Mickey Jones. But the loudest applause of the day was reserved for Andrew Hain, the autistic son of Western Regional Director for Autism Phillip Hain, who got onstage and sang the national anthem for the crowd.
The Love Ride bike show was also a popular draw, with winners of each category receiving cool trophies made of a Harley-Davidson piston signed by the Easy Rider himself, Peter Fonda. The winner of each category also gets a guided tour of Jay Leno’s world famous garage. Edna Clingerman was the big winner of the day, capturing first place in the “Female Owned” class and being selected the “People’s Choice.” Copper Mike of Gravesend Cycles will be joining Enda on the tour of Leno’s Garage after winning the Pre 1940 class with his Steam Punk bike which recently won the “People’s Choice” award at the Las Vegas Bikefest.
Oliver Shokouh and Harley-Davidson of Glendale deserve a lot of credit for once again promoting another successful event while raising valuable funds for charitable causes. For his efforts, Shokouh was awarded with a Congressional certificate by Bob Haueter, Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon. The recognition is well deserved, as over the years Shokouh has helped raise millions of dollars for various organizations. And though the 3000 tickets sold for this year’s event are a far cry from the 20,000 people who used to pack Castaic during the Love Ride’s heyday, it didn’t diminish the fun had by those who attended, and the benevolence of the biker community once again proved immeasurable.