Article by Mike Sayer Pics by Art Hall, Fierce Photography, Pete Alva
Anytime a 25th Silver Anniversary is celebrated by anyone or anything it is truly a notable and commendable event. This year marked that significant achievement for Oliver Shokouh, Glendale Harley- Davidson and the literal army of staff and volunteers that made it possible.
Glendale H-D, where the actual ride originated, had motorcycles, bikers, celebs and rock stars, all crowding the streets with anticipation, and were there before dawn to line up in a sea of motorcycles estimated at nearly 20 thousand give or take a few… The task at hand for me was to make sure I was in Pomona where the ride was to end up and get shots of the Love Riders as they made their way into the Main Gate of the hosting venue, the L.A. County Fair Grounds (Fairplex) where the bikes were parked as droves of Bikers then filtered their way into the Vendor Area of California Bike Week and the Love Ride Compound inside the infield area of the racetrack under a perfect day under the California sun.
The first thing that took place as the gate to the Love Ride opened at 10:am were a slew of non-biker types running inside to the area of the stage to secure a place front and center to see what was possibly the last concert put on by the infamous Foo Fighters. Most of these people didn’t or probably couldn’t care less that this was actually the largest single-day Motorcycle Fund Raising Event in the World… they were just there to see and hear “the band.” I guess the ticket price was right because I saw numerous families, with Mom and Dad, with their teenagers and groups of friends all gathered in the shade of the humungous Love Ride Concert Platform with starry eyes and anticipation on their faces.
Within a few moments the entourages of Jay Leno, Peter Fonda, Larry Hagman entered the gates followed by rest of the Bikers crowding near the stage behind the Foo Fighter Fans to squeeze up close to see the headlining little old band from Texas… ZZ TOP that was to hit the stage to bring down the house in normal and very-loud and pure Biker-style Rock & Rock! The who’s who of the who’s who shared a day in the sun with a star-studded gathering of some very popular faces, so many, I do not know where to begin, like Country Super-Star Alan Jackson, Kiss Rocker, Gene Simmons, so I will list as many as I can, a few of whom were very gracious and willing to pose for a photo or two or… 100!
Beginning at Glendale Harley-Davidson where the Love Ride has began from the very first event… some of the cast of FX’s Sons of Anarchywere on hand and were quite an attraction since so much of the biker population has been tuning in since the very first episode this season. On hand were Charlie Hunnam, Mark Boone Junior, Tommy Flanagan, Johnny Lewis, Kim Coates and Theo Rossi. I happened to literally bump into Katy Sagal in the VIP Lounge and even had a chance to shoot a photo of her with Quick Throttle’s own Lisa Dalgaard. Cassandra Hepburn of the Quentin Tarantino motorcycle film, Hell Ride was there as well mingling with the crowd. The Georgia Satellites played to warm up the anxious Love Ride Crowd getting the amped up for the big event.
As the Love Riders were filling into the infield area to be seen and be a part of history, as did more and more celebrities as the “exclusive” fenced-in area became filled to the gills with the coolest of the cool and major players in the industry.
Willie G. Davidson and his lovely wife Nancy, son Bill and daughter Karen were also on hand. At one point they were up on stage to greet the fans and spend a glorious sunny day that California is so famous for. Also on stage was the ever funny and down to earth guy, Grand Marshall Jay Leno as he and Oliver Shokouh made a few announcements. Robert Patrick and Peter Fonda were there as well and at one point were throwing out cool freebies to the awaiting crowd anxiously waiting for the main event to commence. In addition to the free stuff that was thrown off the stage there were several awesome prizes were won by some lucky people who were fortunate to have won the top prizes… a 2009 Harley- Davidson Softail Crossbones which went to Rachel Olmos of Arleta, CA. Another winner received a 2009 Ducati Monster who went to Paul Reeves of Stanhope, N.J. A Vanson “Captain America” Jacket signed by Peter Fonda went to Ami Schenck of Little Rock, AK. and custom-leather Love Ride 25 Belt designed and created by Duane Ballard, who by the way, had also designed and personally awarded a custom-leather Love Ride 25 wallet to Jay Leno. A Fender Guitar provided by Best Buy Musical Instruments was autographed by the Foo Fighters and ZZ TOP went to Frank Jordan.
This year’s Love Ride 25 Beneficiaries of funds raised include; Muscular Dystrophy Association, Autism Speaks, Children’s Hospital of L.A., Reading by 9 Literacy Initiative, Providence Saint Joseph Foundation, Catholic Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Special Olympics of Southern California, Glendale Community College, Rett Syndrome Foundation, Optimist Youth Homes & Family Centers, Frostig Center, Scleroderma Foundation, Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation, Friends of Castaic Lake and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.
Several hard-working folks that conducted fundraisers were, in order by most funds raised; Eric Schmoranzer ($31,025.), Rick Roussin ($6,017.), Jim & Kitti Carnes ($4,445.), Kirby Yale ($3,246.), Melanie Postell ($3,035.), Scott Seigel ($2,960.), Rick Young ($2,935.), Rodney Houle ($2,751.), William Speeg ($2,725.) and Gerald McKenzie ($2,576.) who all won various prizes supplied by numerous donators and made possible by several generous people wanting to do their part to support the foundation.
Meanwhile, during the Love Ride Event and beginning on Friday, was the 2nd annual running of California Bike Week also known as CBW that took place on the west end of the LA County Fairplex (where the L.A. County fair takes place). Friday’s turnout was moderate but by Saturday the bikers began to pour in to check out the vendors and the exhibits and to check out Saturday evening Flat-Track Racing tearing up the 5/8 Oval usually raced by jockeys on thoroughbreds using real horsepower.
The talk by some vendors was sometimes based on the slow economy and there were definitely less vendors this year, but for the most part many of the vendors didn’t seem to do too bad, but at worse, got a chance to be in front of lots of new people to make connections for prospective future business. Sunday numbers in the vendor show was very heavy and most ever vendor I spoke to was satisfied with the turnout. The guys over at Left Coast Customs had no complaints because not only did they have a great spot, there was a continuous flow of people wanting to see their line of Big Bear and very cool Ultra Choppers.
The Victor McLaglen Motor Corp Drill Team put on several amazing performances throughout the weekend to the cheers and hollers of the crowd that pushed their way up to the k-Rail divider next to the grandstand. Witnessing what they do with those machines just about defies logic and physics but they pull it off like they have done in their black and blue uniforms since the 1930s. Jason Pullen was burning off the tires and wheel-standing his machinery to the disbelief of the spectators silent watching as if hypnotized by his actions (I sure wish “I” could do that stuff…) he makes it look soooo easy!
Many H-D Dealers were lined up showing off their shiny chrome and fancy painted passion machines designed to inspire and fulfill and desires to explore forgotten roads and be counted as “Bikers”. Big Dog showed their latest creation the mean and aggressive looking “Wolf” and some more of their latest and greatest, as did Victory, Triumph and Buell. Two of the largest vendor displays were Harley-Davidson Test Rides, stationary Drag Races and the famous Rolling Museum and the world famous “Wall of Death” daredevil stunt-show. If you wanted to cure a case of curiosity, you could take a test ride on the three-wheeled Spyder Tryke? Byke?… I’m not sure, but if you had the hankering to ride one of these unique vehicles, you had the chance to experience the road from a new perspective… any takers? If not, maybe you could try to straddle a Boss Hoss V-8 Motorcycle and take a test-ride to see what raw horse-power is all about!
Meanwhile, Back at the Love Ride… The first concert act was the TUBES. Remember these guys? They were truly awesome. Not only was the band tight and sounded just like the recordings that we are all so familiar with, the lead singer (Quay Lude?) put on a show like nothing else, changing fro one outfit to another with the finale of White Punks on Dope, wearing silver platform shoes, silver spandex pants (including a long and artificial appendage that seemed to wonder all over the place), weird looking shirt thingy, huge sun glasses, makeup and big, punked-out hair! I don’t know how he kept it all together and didn’t fall over but he managed to stay on time, on key and sounded great putting on an exceptional show that was purely a flashback of the 80’s…….. whoa dude, tubular! After the Tubes show came the announcements on stage followed by the Foo Fighters took the stage and began to pound away their tunes to a cheering and arm waving crowd. The fans loved it and that was all that mattered. Was this going to be their last concert? I have heard rumors… but perhaps they will pull off another show and give the Foo Fighters Fans one more for show for the road!
Finally the time had come… you could tell by the how big the crowd had grown stretching back several hundred feet away from the stage nearly filling the huge grass infield area in the fashion a mini Woodstock (sort’a), as everyone jammed their way as close to the stage as possible. The famous “coyote howl” bellowed from the towering speakers mounted all over the place that was followed by the pounding sound of drums and that hardcore Texas Electric Guitar as the Little ol’ Band from Tejas made their way on to the stage and cranked it up. It was reminiscent of the Beatles at Shea Stadium with the crowd roaring almost as load as the band itself. The real life presence of Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill swaying in unison, backed up by Frank Beard pounding out the familiar beat for the guitar licks of Waiting for the bus, Jesus just left Chicago, Sharp Dressed Man, Under Pressure, Heard it on the X and most every other hit that made them as bad-ass as they are and have been since the early 70s when we first heard their Texas-style bluesy tunes that had etched it’s way into our souls. Their show was excellent and was a perfect touch to cap off the celebration of the Silver Anniversary of the Largest, Coolest, One Day, Biker Event on the Planet… Love Ride 25!
We wouldn’t have missed it for the world… Thanks go out to all that made this tremendous event possible…….. You Rock!