Think Love Ride, and images of Jay Leno and Harley-Davidson race to mind. But a nitro-fueled cacklefest? Flat-track racing? Stunt-rider pyramids?
The Love Ride is looking a little different in 2007. Now in its 24th year, Southern California's annual cruiser mecca is getting a face lift, with a change of venue and a new three-day adjunct called California Bike Week. Instead of the usual 35-mile pilgrimage to Castaic Lake, the 15,000 bikers expected to turn out for the world's largest one-day motorcycle fundraiser this Sunday will head east to the Pomona Fairplex.
That's the venue for two racing events that will take place earlier in the weekend - the All Harley Drag Racing Assn.'s Nitro Drag Races on Friday and Saturday and the Pacific Coast National Flat Track Series Debut Saturday night. It's also the site of weekend-long freestyle stunt shows, demo rides, a 150-vendor trade show and musical performances, including Gregg Allman, who headlines Sunday afternoon.
"We thought: If we can do the racing in Pomona and have the Love Ride at the same venue, it would really focus a lot of motorcycling activity into one venue and turn it all into a much bigger pie," said Oliver Shokouh, Love Ride founder and owner of Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale. "The Love Ride is not a Harley lifestyle event but a motorcycle event open to all motorcyclists of all brands. It's about anybody on two wheels."
I mostly put this in as a plug for Oliver. He gave me my first job in the Harley-Davidson field in 1978. At the time, he was living at his brand-new fresh-bought dealership, on the roof I think, and hadn't even brought his family to California yet. He's of Persian descent, from the Middle East. Detroit. He's a helluva good guy.
He spent his last dime getting that dealership. Don't worry about him. He has plenty of dimes now. The Love Ride is his way of giving back and has raised more than $20,000,000 for Muscular Dystrophy and children's charities over the last 24 years.
Go to Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale or Love Ride. You'll be glad you did.