25 years ago Oliver Shokouh, owner of Glendale Harley-Davidson decided to find a way to raise some money to benefit the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association). He found that the best way to get bikers to toss a few bucks in a bucket for the cause was to put together a charity ride. That ride would later become known as the Love Ride.
In the past, it was a short ride from Glendale Harley-Davidson in Glendale, Califonia, then north on Interstate 5 out to Lake Castaic about 60 miles or so. With a nice view of the lake in the background of the stage, it was just too small to house the 30,000-plus riders and vendors who show up for this ride. So the organizers of the Love Ride had to find a bigger place just to keep up with the growth.
For the past two years, the Love Ride has planted its claws in at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. Organizers wanted to expand and offer more with events like AMA flat track races and test rides. Now the event has grown into California Bike Week, a three-day event culminating with the Love Ride on Sunday and top name music acts. The Fairplex was the best place to fill the parking lot with big rigs packed with motorcycles and parts as well as a better way for over 30,000 riders to get in and out of the venue.
The gates at the Fairplex opened in the afternoon on the 23rd of October for the biker crowd that wanted to get a jump start on what the vendors had on display and all of their hot new products. The same goes for Friday, it was a day jammed with bike demos, live music, great food, and all things motorcycle. On Saturday the Fairplex was full of things to do and see, like the gravity-defying Wall Of Death riders, and stunt rider Jason Pullen smoking rubber on his Dyna and 1200 Sportster. But the biggest draw of the day were the high-speed flat track races.
As the sun was setting, the dirt was flying, and the best of the AMA flat track racers were pushing the limits of their bikes and bodies. Just some of the names kicking up earth were flat track champ Kenny Coolbeth, Chris Carr, Joe Kopp, Bryan Smith, and Jared Mees. It was a great night of racing and you can find out all of the information of the who, what, and where on the AMA website at www.ama-cycle.org.
Early Sunday morning, the weather turned out to be a typical California-perfect day, as the crowds lined the streets of Glendale for blocks around the dealership covering every inch of asphalt with motorcycle rubber ready to kick off the 25th annual Love Ride. The Grand Marshall Jay Leno headed up the motorcade eastbound to the Fairplex. Some 20,000-plus motorcycles followed along including celebrities like Peter Fonda, Robert Patrick, and Lorenzo Lamas. As the riders made their way toward Pomona the smell of barbecue wafted through the air as the bands were rockin' on the main stage.
This year it was Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters that started off the show with one of the longest sets I've seen from an opening band. Immediately following the Foo Fighters were rock `n' roll icons ZZ Top. The Texas-based group performed countless hits only to be joined by the Foo Fighters for a few more songs to end the show. It was a great show, the crowd of celebrites surrounding the stage was a good sign that this show will continue to grow. Mark your caliendar for next year's Love Ride 26. The Fairplex has already been booked for October 25th, 2009.