Love Ride Number 29 is Just Fine… Again.
Story and Photography By Pete Alva
I myself, being a ‘Veteran Attendee’ of 15 years at The Love Ride, will always feel a passion to speak of this event as if were almost my own, as I feel rather as someone who, like countless others like me helped shape it and make it what it is today. Like all my articles that I write, I prefer not to be negative or be critical of this event or any event, but rather praise it for what it is.
I have seen the Love Ride go through many changes… changes in location of venue… changes in attendance figures… changes in recipients of the charity donations, changes in event attractions like racing, stunts, vendors, and music.
I have seen the Love Ride plagued by weather without incident or decrease in attendance. I have seen The Love Ride survive an abrupt cancellation of the event itself one year due to a recession in it’s midst. I have seen the Love Ride Founder Oliver Shokouh and his thoughtful and loyal staff of The Love Ride pick up the pieces, regroup, restructure, refocus it’s mission after this.
The many things I have seen with the Love Ride has always brought me back to it out of intrigue and well, the love of the ride itself, hence it’s title. I tend to view the people of the Love Ride staff and audience almost like a subculture within a culture, as the event reverberates a certain atmosphere of depth, that is possibly self procured by the people attending,and the mysterious change of weather that seems to always arrive just like clockwork every year down to the exact hour.
As you can see we can easily open up an almost scientific discussion of motorcycle events using The Love Ride as a near cylindrical coordinate system reference point for the motorcycle event space-time continuum, as we all who read this are somehow connected like planets that revolve around this phenomenon of gatherings that we accordingly nickname ‘The Bike Events’. I think you get my drift.
What I am finally truly getting at is how I can bring up my experience that involved my witnessing of the two that died of their injuries during last years Love Ride event, and how I called 911 for them. There were also at least 3 accidents that day involved with the event last year that were non-fatal injuries, one even involving a friend of Jay Leno, in which Jay chose to comfort his friend at the hospital and miss the part of the event at Lake Castaic. I guess it is because I am writing now after one whole year, as I chose not to write about it last year, nor did I plan on covering the event this year. Instead, I reverted and I chose to have what I think is closure this year, to witness the Love Ride as it was, without incident. The trauma of last year wasn’t really discussed too much here at Love Ride 29, but was admittedly present in the atmosphere in memory of those who perished and those who were injured may have even come back themselves. Everyone there, like me, chose again to do what was intended from the beginning years, which is essentially have a great time, in spite of the lingering risk factor that odds itself at any event throughout the country every week.
This Love Ride was the 29th anniversary of the event, and a great preview of what I hope will be a spectacular third decade celebration next year. The attendance was listed surprisingly as 4,000, as I thought I’d observed a bigger crowd. $440,000 was raised that day to a grand total of over 24 million dollars since inception. This years recipient was appropriately the USO organization that helps the military troops and their families.
The Strawberry Alarm Clock performed an hour of their classic songs at the morning ‘Press Conference’ at Glendale Harley-Davidson, playing their hits “Incense and Peppermints”, “Tomorrow” and other cult favorites.
The band’s lineup included original 1967 members George Bunnell, Randy Seol, Mark Weitz, Gene Gunnels, and Steve Bartek, and they were joined by 1987 addition Howie Anderson on guitar. At the Celebrity Press Conference with Jay Leno, L.A. City Council member Tom LaBonge honored the Strawberry Alarm Clock on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of “Incense and Peppermints” being the #1 song in the United States in the fall of 1967.
Special guests joining Leno on stage were Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero and Orange County Supervisor Tom Spitzer. The many celebrities greeting the crowd included Robert Patrick, Antonio Sabato Jr., Willie G. Davidson and his wife Nancy, Karen Davidson, Perry King, George Barris, Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Ron Moss (The Bad and the Beautiful), and several cast members from The Sons of Anarchy: Mo McRae (Tyler), Emilio Rivera (Marcus Alvarez), and Kurt Yeager (Greg the Peg). Lorenzo Lamas closed the Glendale stage show with the national anthem. My good friend Tom “Disco” Loveland, the enduring emcee from numerous previous Love Rides, returned to host this year. Welcome home Tom!
Castaic Lake opened at 10am and offered a totally new interactive layout that kept the crowd moving. The dozen food trucks offering everything from Mexican to Chinese food offered a variety compared to past Love Rides with one food vendor. A motorcycle trade show, bike show, and vendor fair overlooked the stage at the top of the hill. Back to climbing!
Canned Heat played set of new and classic blues with its original 1969 Woodstock lineup (Wow!): Harvey Mandel, Larry Taylor, Fito de la Para, and Dale Spalding. The band has been together for over 45 years and first made their mark at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Finally the triumphant return of George Thorogood and the Destroyersto Souther California delighted the crowd for 90-minutes, playing his many hits, including ” I Drink Alone”, “Bad to the Bone,” and selections from his new album, “2120 South Michigan Ave.”
A light cloud cover provided a sanctuary of comfort for the bands and the leather clad crowd, who enjoyed their comfort with biker family and friends in this hilly amphitheater setting with hay bale cushy seats.
In all, it was just a great time, which is all we ever want at these beloved motorcycle events.
Robert Patrick and other celebrities who made the ride from the Glendale press conference to Castaic Lake greeted the crowd on stage as Oliver Shokouh announced the top ten fundraisers: Mark Alex Cheely ($10,100), Eric Schmoranzer ($7,295), Jim Carnes ($5,311), Judi Flournoy ($4,271), Gerard McKenzie ($3,491), Kent Vest ($2,930), Melanie Postell ($1,500), J. Michael Popovich ($1,070), Lonnie Hood ($1,030), and Diana Donaldson ($1,025).
The winners of the Peter Fonda Ride-In Bike Show were then announced in seven categories: Alfred Barajas’ 2004 Road Glide (Touring); John Kuhn’s 1993 Heritage Softail (Softail, FX); Lenny Meyer’s 2012 Big Boy Chopper (Custom Built); Mike Lee’s 1998 Sportster (XL); Edna Clingerman’s 2003 Softail Springer (Lady Ridden/Owned), and Steve Margeson’s 1949 Harley-Davidson (Antique). The People’s Choice award went to Mike Bilek’s Custom Boss Hoss.
“Love Ride 29 was an exciting climax to our third decade,” said Oliver Shokouh, the owner of Harley-Davidson of Glendale who founded the Love Ride in 1984, “and the overwhelmingly positive response will certainly propel us full force into our fourth decade next year.”
The beloved Love Ride lives. Ride Safe. Ride Careful. Just Ride.