Ridin’ and rockin’ the Granite State
Laconia, N.H., June 9–17—My first time attending Laconia Motorcycle Week was an amazing experience! It was the first time I had ridden east of Indiana. It was my first trip to the New England area and I have to say the area is absolutely beautiful. I am not sure what I expected, but the gorgeous country scenery was a surprise. Growing up in the midwest I had the impression that the area was all big cities and lots of people. I was truly in awe of the mountainous beauty that was eve-rywhere.
The entire week I kept hearing, “Before… it was this, or before… it was that.” To me the week was excellent. I know that rallies have a tendency to change, some better, some worse and some just go through cycles. To me, the 95th Laconia Motorcycle Week was perfect. The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was perfect. The one thing that I that thought was lacking was the participation in the custom bike shows, but I am not even sure that is a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love bike shows and I love being able to see custom bikes on display. It’s just sometimes, you just want to ride and the week just seemed to be more about the riding than anything else.
On Tuesday, the United States Classic Racing Association (USCRA) brought back the original Tower Street Hill Climb, paying homage to those who during the early days of the rally would bring their bikes and race up the Tower Street hill. The event brought out several vintage racers who had no problems navigating up the paved street. The exhibition event appears to have been a success and organizers are hoping to making it a yearly event. The most amazing bike to watch go up the hill was the 1917 Indian with a sidecar. It really took you to a time when you could have been standing on that hill, way back in 1917 when the road was less desirable and the struggle to get up it was even more dangerous!
Gunstock Resort hosted the returning AMA Sanctioned Pro-Am Hill Climb on Wednesday, the weather was perfect and the event drew a large crowd. The morning session was the Amateur In-vitational and the Pro Series was the afternoon session. The Pros made the 70-meter climb look easy as they raced up the Torger Tokel Memorial Ski Jump. Vincent Nuzzolilli had the fastest time of the day during the Unlimited class at 5.576 seconds. It is truly amazing to see these bikes literally fly up the hill. New for this year was live entertainment between sessions and you could also purchase sou-venirs and concessions on site.
As I stated previously, it’s all about the rides! There were several guided rides you could par-take in. There were daily rides from Rally Headquarters at Weirs Beach and you could find a spon-sored ride just about every day leaving from one of the establishments in town. Thursday, I decided, would be a good day to enjoy the beautiful riding the area has to offer. I spent the morning riding the Kancamagus Highway, otherwise known as “The Kanc.” The Kanc is 34.5 miles of scenic highway along NH-112. The views are absolutely amazing and it is a must to stop at the pull-offs and take in the scenery. Another beautiful ride, I am told, is the ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. You can choose to do this with a group ride from Laconia Harley-Davidson or venture up on your own. There are two days during the rally that the road is designated “motorcycles only” and no cars are allowed. This is definitely on my list for next year.
Not only was Laconia Harley-Davidson a great place to get in on a group ride, but they were also a major stopping point while you were out riding. They had bands performing, great deals on bikes, and lots of vendors set up for all your needs. You could also take advantage of the sales they had going on in their MotorClothes department. Of course, they were also there for your service needs if you happened to have any issues during the rally.
Thursday ended with the POW-MIA Vigil in Meredith, just past Laconia Harley-Davidson. It started with a parade of bikes that traveled through Weirs Beach and ended at Heskey Park where the riders passed under two fire trucks both flying giant flags, the United States flag and a POW/MIA flag. The vigil has been held every Thursday night for the past 30 years. During the rally the attend-ance is in the thousands. It was truly one of the highlights of the week to be able to honor those who have not returned home to their families.
The Laconia Roadhouse hosted a special event on Thursday to benefit the Children’s Hospi-tal at Dartmouth. They deemed the day CHaD Appreciation Day. The day started off with a special ride hosted by former Buckcherry drummer Xavier Muriel. After the ride, participants were treated to an amazing clambake lunch which included clam chowder with oyster crackers, lobster and drawn butter, steamed clams, corn on the cob, and new potatoes—the whole works! This was my first expe-rience eating lobster and I had to get pointers from a few locals on the proper way to eat it. Of course, they were happy to help me out, but also happy to make fun of me as I tried to crack the shell. I found the lobster to be very tasty but seems to be a lot of work. The day also included a silent auction and they even raffled off an Indian Motorcycle. The Roadhouse also hosted several other activities throughout the week, including the daily wet T-shirt contests which got wilder as the week went on. And emcee Jack Schit was on stage keeping the crowd revved up all week.
At the other end of the loop around town was the Broken Spoke Saloon which offered night-ly bonfires and a great place to congregate when you were ready to get off Lakeside Avenue. They hosted bike shows throughout the week, a tattoo contest and a Hot Legs contest, as well as providing some great entertainment with their band line-up.
Another rally venue was New Hampshire International Speedway where USCRA racing took place the first weekend and the closing weekend saw the 95th annual Loudon Classic. The track’s expansive parking lots also housed a number of vendors, motorcycle manufacturers offering demo rides, and the Wild Wheels Wall of Death.
All in all Laconia Motorcycle Week proved to be an amazing time and provided all the things you expect from a rally: great music, local hospitality, good food and most of all a place to ride and spend time with your friends and moto family. I do want to stress the local hospitality—Laconia and the entire Lakes Region really made an effort to make the bikers feel welcome. They designated one of the main routes through town as “motorcycle only” and went out of their way to make sure you enjoyed the experience. I am really looking forward to returning to New Hampshire and Laconia Motorcycle Week.