Backroads With Betsy: Love Ride 2012

An iconic ride that's back on track

By Betsy Huelskamp
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.
Oliver Shokouh with reigning Love Ride Grand Marshall Jay Leno.

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.

You have to really love the Love Ride to wear it forever!
At Glendale Harley-Davidson bright and early and camera ready—that’s me with my press pal Richard Dalton.
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.
Always fun to see the celebrities who show up at the Love Ride to give their support. That’s Karen Davidson second from left, and her parents, Nancy and Willie G. Davidson, fourth and fifth from left. Jay Leno you can probably recognize, and to his right are Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Perry King.

My photographer friend Bart Mitchell, far left, with some friends.
Actor Robert Patrick (of “Terminator” movie fame) and the Boozefighter club crew.
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.
Me with cutie Karen Davidson of the Harley-Davidson empire.

Jay Leno and rocker George Thorogood talking shop. Thorogood was the headlining act at Castaic Lake.
Soap stars looking good! Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Ron Moss of “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
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!
My motorcycle (in the middle) faced some stiff competition in the womens category of the bike show.

Me and new friend Carla Margeson and her badass chopper.
My pal Freedom showing my bike some love!
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.

Falcon Belmontez, me, and my longtime riding friend Colleen Duffner.
Colleen and Falcon pose against the beautiful mountain scenery and the main stage at the Castaic Lake grounds.
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.
I enjoyed talking to this Julianne Moore-lookalike recruiter.
I think our country is safe with this member of the Boozefighters manning the guns!
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!”
George Thorogood and the Destroyers demonstrate that there is no age limit on being “bad to the bone.”
The back of this biker’s jacket show hes taking George’s words to heart.

Jennifer Santolucito, one of my all-time favorite women in the world for her beauty inside and out, shares a moment with her handsome hubby in the crowd.

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.

Honey, the new president of the Boozefighters.
This guy seemed to be having a great time, although he may have had too much to drink.
Lorenzo Lamas visits with Emillio Rivera (of “Sons of Anarchy” fame) and Riveras pretty wife.
But I made my pick when I saw this cute boy with hair worthy of an Olympic snowboarder!

The Love Ride stage and crowd.

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.

The Barbie bike that kicked my ass!

My friend Falcon with Oliver Shokouh accepting her prize, a trip to Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee.

Feeling right at home in California’s sun and surf. I’m loving my new riding glasses by 7eye (formerly Panoptyx). Thanks to Marcel Shiro of 7eye for giving them to me at the Love Ride to test. Theyre almost as good as having a windshield—plus, theyre just the right shade of rust!

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!

Learn more about Betsy on the WRN Contributors page. 
Related Articles
Scroll to Top