It’s been 89 years since “The Gypsies” flag was flown on the handlebars of early Harley
and Indian motorcycles during parades in the New Hampshire Lakes Region. The flag-flying riders eventually led to the first Laconia motorcycle rally in 1916, which wasn’t much of a rally at all
Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach is soon to become the temporary home for thousands of motorcyclists in town for the 89th Laconia Motorcycle Week.
Taking a ride on 'The Kanc' through New Hampshire's White Mountains comes highly recommended.
but more of a friendly gathering of about 150 riders. The next year that would change though when the Federation of American Motorcyclists sanctioned its first official Gypsy Tours, an overnight event with participants often camping out together before embarking on road rides and engaging in other motorcycle events and competitions. They were held in different parts of the country, usually on the same weekend every year. The first annual Gypsy Tour in Laconia took place in 1917 but the rally was originally dubbed the New England Gypsy Tour. Almost 90 years later, motorcyclists still love to converge on the shores of Lake Winnipausakee for a week’s worth of biker fun, from riding the Kanc to partying on the Weirs.
Laconia Motorcycle Week
2012 roars to life this weekend and will run through June 17. To get festivities started properly, the NASWA Resort
is holding its sixth annual Peter Makris ride. What better way to kick off Motorcycle Week than a spin around beautiful Lake Winnipausakee with hundreds of friends? Bikes and boats are both welcome to participate in this fundraiser for Easter Seals and the Laconia Fire Dept. Life Saving Fund. Participants receive a commemorative t-shirt designed by artist David Uhl, the NASWA feeds everybody both breakfast and lunch, the Dan Lawson Band will be jamming at the ride’s culmination, and plenty more fun is planned for the after party at the NAZ.
The resort will be hopping all week. The NAZ has live music planned daily, including the entertaining Jennifer Santolucito who will be hosting “Hangin’ with Jen,” an eclectic combination of tattoo contests, arm-wrestling matches, best beer belly contests and music by the songstress herself. The resort has a great lakeside bar to kick your feet in the sand and enjoy a frosty beverage at and on Thursday, June 14, is the ever-popular NAZkini Contest. The NASWA also serves as the site of the rally’s daily press conferences.
Riders on their way to Laconia are invited to drop by Manchester Harley-Davidson Saturday, June 9, for a “Bike Week Pit Stop” where they can take a quick rest and grab a free hamburger or hot dog courtesy of Steve
Bikini contests are always a popular draw during the Laconia motorcycle rally.
Talarico and the gang. Laconia Harley-Davidson, located in Meredith, is also helping get the party started on the right foot Saturday night with a Bon Jovi tribute band, Living on a Bad Name, scheduled to perform. Laconia H-D is holding the first annual Battle of the Bands competition that day, too.
It’d be a wasted visit to Laconia if you didn’t take advantage of some of the great roads and take in some of the incredible scenery this region of the United States offers. If you’re not familiar with the area, no worries because plenty of guided and group tours are offered, including daily Gypsy Tours in the vein of the original runs. The ride they have planned for Tuesday, June 12, starts at Weirs Beach then heads to the southern coast of Maine, rolling through the quaint New England towns of York and Arundel on their way to the popular motorcycle joint, Bentley's Saloon. A jaunt up Mt. Washington Auto Road
comes highly recommended and the road is reserved for motorcycles only on Monday, June 11, and Thursday, June 14. The 34-mile stretch of Kancamagus Highway between North Woodstock and Conway is another popular destination with its wonderful swimming holes, waterfalls and green forests.
Catching a motorcycle race is another crowd-pleaser during Laconia Motorcycle Week which offers a bit of everything, from vintage sidecars to hopped-up, hill-climbing snowmobiles to professional road racing. The action fires up Monday, June 11, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon as the U.S. Vintage Motorcycle Grand Prix
takes place. We
Quads with exteneded swingarms and sport bike engines flew up Gunstock last year during the annual hill climbs.
caught this event last year and love the camaraderie and spirit of competition it embodies. The annual hill climbing competition is another must-do event. The AMA-sanctioned Shawn Farnsworth Memorial Hill Climb will take place in a new location this year in Canaan, but will still be held on the traditional Wednesday, June 13. Saturday the action returns to NH Motor Speedway as pro road racers take to the track for the 89th Annual Loudon Motorcycle Classic.
The custom motorcycle scene should be well represented as plenty of bike shows and builds are slated to take place. The annual “Biker Build-Off” at the Laconia Roadhouse Build-Off Tent pits six custom bike shops against one another as they have one week to complete a ground-up build. The winner is selected by a “People’s Choice” vote with the top shop walking away with a healthy cash prize. The Haymond Law Firm actively supports the scene by hosting several shows like a Ride-In Bike Show Wednesday at the Lobster Pound and the 8th Annual Laconia Bike Show at Opeechee Park on Friday. Custom bike shows are also scheduled for the Funspot and the Weirs so be sure to polish up your ride and enter it in one of the shows because you just might walk away with a few extra dollars in your pocket.
The Broken Spoke Saloon is another Laconia hot spot. The Laconia Spoke has a huge building with tons of moto memorabilia and a full restaurant, while outside vendors hawk wares, custom builders filter among the crowd, and live music rocks onstage. The Spoke has a full lineup of music, from a Led Zeppelin Tribute Band called Houses of the
Lacoia gets a big 'Thumbs Up' from Masshole Choppers.
Holy to Jasmine Cain. Local legend John Cafferty is the headliner Saturday, June 15, when he’ll be playing a free show. Other rally favorites like burn out contests and lady oil wrestling provide even more incentive to get your party on at the Laconia Broken Spoke.
A good cross section of manufacturers will be represented at this year’s rally, offering demo rides on their latest lineup of motorcycles. Test ride a new Harley-Davidson outside of Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant, Can-Am Spyder is offering demos across from Patrick’s at Bertha Mae’s, climb on with Victory
at the Gilford Airport Plaza across from the Laconia Airport or ride the latest Yamaha and Suzuki motorcycles over at the Funspot.
Fireworks will soon fill the air over Weirs Beach. Literally. Laconia’s the only show I know that shoots off fireworks every year, the aerial display scheduled for Wednesday night, June 13. Catch the Laconia action with Motorcycle USA as we bring you daily reports and photos from the rally. Follow us on Twitter, too, for more real-time news and shots from the scene. Hopefully we’ll see plenty of you there in person though!