CASTAIC, Calif. — The 32nd Annual Love Ride Grand Finale was held last Sunday. Motorcyclists rode from Harley-Davidson of Glendale to Castaic Lake. The charity fundraiser raised $1 million this year for the Wounded Warrior Project. Since its inception, the Love Ride has brought in $25 million for deserving charitable organizations.
“Aside from it being a great cause, it’s been a family tradition,” said Ralph Loynachan, a motorcyclist from Silver Lake, Calif. “We have family that ride down from Portland, Oregon. I’m doing it solo this year in honor of the legacy that we’ve all celebrated as a family. My mom is suffering from Alzheimer’s so she couldn’t make it down on my dad’s trike. I have my eldest daughter and my wife sending me off. As the last year, it has been quite sober.”
Glendale Harley-Davidson owner Oliver Shokouh founded the Love Ride back in 1984. He said the image of motorcyclists has greatly improved over the past three decades.
“This is kind of bittersweet for me, too, after 32 years to come out here and say goodbye to you all,” he said. “I want to thank you all for coming out year after year. Things have changed a lot. Because of our hard work, we’ve changed that image where the city of Glendale actually likes us now. We’re making progress.”
Motorcyclists and other fine guests enjoyed a performance by the Eagles tribute band, The Long Run, outside the dealership.
“I’ve always gone to the Love Ride for the past 10 or 12 years,” said Julian Ruelas, a rider from Ventura, Calif. “It’s a charity event to give people money to help them out and have fun and ride, that’s one of the best things I like to do. Yes, I am sad. I can’t believe it. I hope another event happens to take it’s place.”
A celebrity press conference followed with stars like Jay Leno, Peter Fonda, Robert Patrick, and the Sons of Anarchy.
“Times have certainly changed,” Leno said. “We used to get Sonny Barger. Now, we get Ronald McDonald. We’re a bunch of tough asses, aren’t we? Coming up next, Hello Kitty. How about Toys ‘R’ Us, why don’t they come up too? I think it’s pretty obvious God hates bikers. It hasn’t rained in like a thousand days. Oliver picks today. That’s great. What I love about California–drought, drought, drought, flood. Thanks for coming out everybody.”
At 9 a.m., the engines were fired up. Motorcyclists headed up the 5 freeway north to Castaic Lake for the rest of the grand finale festivities.
“We are a clean and sober club called the Mended Sisters out of San Diego,” said Jan Linsalato. “We love life and we love to ride. I’m pumped up because this is the first year that I’ve actually ridden in the pack. This will be my first and last time to ride in the pack up there.”
Orange County rockers Social Distortion performed for motorcyclists and other attendees.
“Why not come out? It’s the Foo Fighters,” said attendee Chase Monroe from North Hollywood, Calif. “It’s for a good cause. Love Ride is the last year. This is my first and last. My favorite part is where they ran out of beer right in front of me. But water is good.”
I had the chance to speak with actor Robert Patrick from the hit CBS drama, Scorpion.
“We’re out here supporting the Love Ride for wounded warriors,” Patrick explained. “It’s been a beautiful day. We’re out here doing what we can to shed some light on the issues of the American veterans. The government needs to do more to take care of these guys. It’s an event that combines a couple of passions for me. My chapter No. 101 is a non-profit and we’ve been doing fundraising throughout the year for 10 years now. I love riding motorcycles and if I can bring awareness to veterans issues. It’s a no-brainer to do the Love Ride.”
Nationally-known rock group The Foo Fighters entertained a sold out crowd at Castaic Lake.
“This is my first year, but I’ve lived here since I was four,” said Dillon B. from Castaic, Calif. “The Foo Fighters are like one of my favorite bands. I’ve grown up with this music. It’s really cool seeing them live. Just being next to the lake and seeing nature, having a festival in a town that’s kind of small is kind of cool. It’s not huge like Coachella. It’s really humble.”
While this was the grand finale for the Love Ride motorcycle event, the Love Ride Foundation will continue to raise funds for deserving non-profit organizations.
To make a donation to the Love Ride Foundation, visit loveride.kintera.org.