The 29th annual Love Ride, held in October in Glendale, Calif., went off without a hitch. Billed as the longest-running motorcycle fund-raising event in the world, the Love Ride has seen a mountain of success but has also suffered a few setbacks. This time it all seemed to go just about right, signaling that the Love Ride is definitely back on track.
The Love Ride started in 1984 as the brainchild of Oliver Shokouh, owner of Glendale Harley-Davidson. In its 29 years the event has raised nearly $25 million for various charities, and during its peak, it attracted as many as 20,000 riders. The Love Ride has undergone some changes over the years, including a change of venue that negatively affected attendance and donations. Nevertheless, the 2012 event proved the Love Ride is still hugely popular, bringing in more than $440,000 in one day from the 4,000 faithful riders who showed up.
Proceeds from the 2012 Love Ride benefitted the United Service Organizations (USO), which provides critical support services and morale-boosting programs to US troops and their families, including the families of fallen soldiers. The event was supported by 23 Harley-Davidson dealerships, with many of those organizing their own rides to Glendale or directly to Castaic Lake, the ride’s destination.
The 1960s band the Strawberry Alarm Clock warmed up the morning crowd with the old favorite “Incense and Peppermints.” I love that song, and the band sounded exactly the same as they once did on my old record album. Lorenzo Lamas belted out the national anthem, and then we were off! Riders were routed up to the 210 freeway, which made the transition onto the 5 freeway much smoother and avoided the type of traffic problems that contributed to a fatal accident during the 2011 Love Ride.
As I pulled into the parking lot at Castaic Lake, I noticed the sign-up for the bike show. I asked what the prize was and was told the winner would get to visit Jay Leno’s garage. I’ve never entered a bike show, and I’ve never been to Jay’s garage, but for $10 I thought I’d give it a try. They had several different categories, but I figured I’d put mine in the ladies category, as there were only two other bikes entered at that point. As I was pulling in, another woman on a badass flamed chopper pulled in next to me. “Get out of here!” I yelled jokingly to her. “You get out of here!” she yelled back. So we made a pact. If she won, she’d take me as her guest. If I won, I’d take her. We figured we had it in the bag!
As I walked into the grounds at Castaic Lake, where the crowd was sprawled out on the grass in front of the lake enjoying the day’s festivities, I found my friends Colleen and Falcon already having a great time. So we all walked around the sea of bikers together and checked out the different displays. We ran into friends from years gone by and made new ones along the way. Bike rallies are always a spectator sport, as there is never a shortage of interesting people to watch.
I enjoyed the display set up by the USO, where some of our nation’s finest men and women were working to recruit, educate, and answer questions. There were military vehicles nearby that we were invited to tour to get a feel of what it would feel like to defend our country’s freedom. The Love Ride has long prided itself on providing a place for bikers to unite and contribute to something that will make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. In this time of global strife, supporting our military men and women is a most worthy cause.
Our national anthem done in style is a great way to kick off a day, and when a shy-looking young female soldier took to the stage and sang those words with haunting perfection, it quieted every biker in the valley. Nothing speaks to a crowd of bikers more than the words “land of the free and the home of the brave.” She paved the way for George Thorogood and the Destoyers, who came out and rocked the house. George proved with his first song that he is still “ba-ba-ba-ba-bad to the bone!”
Backstage the handsome celebrities enjoyed a healthy lunch and lounged next to the beautiful lake. I did a quick run-through to search for my pick of the cutest boy of the day.
I have to admit I was a bit insulted and disappointed when I heard the names announced for the bike show winners. When I didnt hear my name, my new friend Carla Margeson (the one with the badass chopper) found me and told me she hadnt won, either. “Let’s go see who did,” she said. Turns out a lady with a Barbie bike had kicked our butts, telling us, “Everybody loves Barbie! Better luck next year!” Whoooo, that made me mad—that bimbette Barbie already has everything! But Falcon was pleasantly surprised when they called her name as the door-prize winner. She won a trip for two to the Harley-Davidson factory and museum in Milwaukee.
I was really glad to see the Love Ride have a successful year and get back on track. It’s a great event that ultimately has done a whole lot of good to help others over the years, and I hope to see it continue far into the future. As for me, I’m glad to be back in California after a few years living in Colorado. Can’t beat riding in the sunshine and being among so many wonderful friends!