A Beautiful Day For A Great Cause
Ingredients for the premiere party - sunshine, celebrities, leather and chrome topped off with the Black Crowes live on stage. Must be the 2006 Love Ride at Castaic Lake.
If there's one thing bikers do well, its party. The formula is quite simple. Start out with killer riding weather, add a sublime destination, great food, friends, music and for good measure figure in a deserving charity, mix well, and you have all the ingredients for one kick-ass party.
There's not a person out there that understands this principle better than Oliver Shokouh, owner of Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale, California, but more importantly, founder and chairman of the Love Ride.
What began back in 1981 as a way for Shokouh to help Harley-Davidson raise money for its partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association
has evolved into a huge annual party the second weekend of November. This year's event on November 12 was the 23rd held under the moniker of Love Ride
. While there are certainly many great motorcycle fundraisers across the country, none come close to the dollar-raising power of Love Ride. Initial figures peg the money raised this year at $1.56 million dollars, bringing the total dollars raised over the ride's history to $20,310,000! This year the list of charities benefiting from the Love Ride total 31 different organizations, consisting of both local and national groups.
Figures coming from the Love Ride indicate that there were somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000 participants taking place in this year's festivities. Riders from all over the greater Los Angeles area converged on Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale in the early morning hours, completely filling the cordoned-off streets surrounding the dealership. Looking in any direction all you could see was the gleaming chrome and shimmering paint adorned by upwards of 10,000 Harleys. Added to the mix were thousands of leather-clad bikers just waiting to put some fire in the hole and begin the 40-mile ride north from Glendale to Castaic Lake, where the event would take place.
In between performances, the crowd inspected the Victor McLaglen Motorcorps stunt team's battery of bikes.
Riders kicked down a minimum of $75 for the opportunity to take part in the ride. Add to that all of the corporate sponsors ranging from the Harley-Davidson of Glendale, Southern California Dealers Association (H-D dealers), Budweiser, Paul Mitchell, LoJack, the Recycler, and L.A's 95.5 FM KLOS, as well as many others, and you have got a whole lot going on.
Prior to the ride's start the crowd was treated to some musical entertainment from legendary rocker Edgar Winter. With everybody amped and ready to go, all that remained was a press conference presided over by Jay Leno. A virtual who's who of motorcycle, civic and entertainment personalities paraded across the stage accepting praise and expressing thanks for all the hard work put on by the sponsors and the estimated 900 volunteers it took to pull off the event. The highlight of the press conference was the presentation of a check to the Love Ride Foundation for $500,000 by Farmers Insurance Group. With that it was time to roll.
For nearly an hour the sounds of rumbling exhaust reverberated down the Harley-filled streets adjacent to the dealership. In a smooth and orderly fashion the bikes rolled onto the I-5 freeway, taking over the super slab from the usual mix of cars and trucks. All along the route were American flags waving, with thumbs-up spectators lining the overpasses showing their support for the passing riders. For those who have never participated in the Love Ride, suffice it to say it's a rush. Riding with so many like-minded people is a real kick in the pants. At times, as far as the eye can see, the only visible vehicles on the freeway were motorcycles. But don't let that fool you; just because there are no cars to run you over doesn't mean you can let down your guard, as there are some riders in the pack that aren't very experienced.
Enthusiastic flag-waving spectators crowded overpasses to see the I-5 invasion when thousands of Harley riders rumbled by.
As the bikes arrived at Castaic Lake they were met by an estimated 10,000 more folks that had forgone the dealership and headed directly to Castaic. Although the total attendance figures have come in at 20,000 or so, it felt and looked like there were fewer attendees than reported by officials.
Activities at the lake included a BBQ lunch and a trade show anchored by big rigs from Harley-Davidson, Performance Machine, J&P Cycles, Big Bear Choppers, Vance & Hines, Rock & Roll Custom Paintworks, Bourget's Bike Works, and Boss Hoss. Tossed into the mix were numerous booths from both national and local companies hawking their wares and services to would-be buyers.
A perennial favorite at the Love Ride has been the Victor McLaglen Motorcorps. This year the stunt team with lineage that can be traced back some 70 years wooed the crowd with its 10 members performing trick and precision riding while exhibiting some of the finest riding skills anywhere.
The Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson belts a tune for the estimated 20,000 people who filled the shores of Castaic Lake for the 23rd installment of Oliver Shokouh's Love Ride.
Over the years the Love Ride's stage has seen the likes of B.B. King, Bruce Springsteen, The Doobie Brothers, Dwight Yoakam, ZZ Top, Robbie Krieger, Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, Little Feat, and others. This year's musical respite was supplied from the Fryed Brothers. The five-piece band performed its signature style of R&B, country, western swing, and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, warming the crowd up for the headliner, the Black Crowes.
Since their inception in 1990, the Black Crowes have been known for their no nonsense approach to rock 'n' roll. The six-member ensemble brought their A-Game with them as they pounded out smokin' versions of some of their greatest hits including, "A Conspiracy," "Twice As Hard," "She Talks To Angels," and "Thorn In My Pride" - complete with singer Chris Robinson jamming on harmonica. The crowd listened and watched from a grassy slope, which culminated in front of the open-backed stage. This provided a perfect backdrop for the concert, as the lake and hills in the background offered beautiful sights to go with the music.
For more information or to find out about next year's event, log on to www.loveride.org.
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