The Love Ride, a Los Angeles area, charity motorcycle event which liked to call itself “the largest one-day motorcycle event in the world” is dead at age 25.
The first Love Ride was on November 11, 1984. Only 500 people showed up but they included Peter Fonda and Willie G. Davidson. The Ride came along right at the beginning of the Harley boom, the year after the Harley Owner’s Group was founded, and for years it was an essential motorcycle event in Los Angeles. Eventually, as the run fee increased, the Love Ride got the reputation of being an essential event for Rich Urban Bikers.
The Ride began as a way to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. A man named, Oliver Shokouh who still owns Glendale Harley Davidson in the San Fernando Valley did most of the leg work. Through most of its history, bikers would collect into one giant pack at Glendale Harley and ride 20 miles north to a park for a party. Over the years, performers at the party included David Crosby, Eric Burdon, Jackson Browne, Little Feat, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, the Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, the Foo Fighters and Sammy Hagar. Yoakum was scheduled to be the top act again this year.
The billionaire Malcolm Forbes used to attend the Love Ride. Some of the Sons of Anarchy went last year. Most years, any celebrity with the slightest interest in motorcycling would show up. The Very Important Bikers had their own very important biker section. Jay Leno has been the Grand Marshall forever.
And, as annoyingly star-studded as it has been the Love Ride actually made the world a better place. Over the years, the Ride raised about $22 million. Last year, in the darkest hours of the “financial crisis,” the Ride still raised $1 million for about 15 different charities including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Special Olympics of Southern California, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Catholic Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
“The Love Ride is all about helping those less fortunate and having a good time while doing it,” Shokouh said then. “During truly challenging times, having such a strong year really demonstrates the heart and commitment of everyone that makes Love Ride possible. We’re looking forward to the next 25 years.”
Yesterday, Shokouh announced it was all over. “The numbers were scary dismal to where we thought, ‘Gee, this thing is going to bomb,” he told Max Zimbert of the Glendale News Press. “I’ve talked to other people involved in charitable events, and typically they’re down on average by 50 percent, it seems like. Charities have gone away from people’s hearts right now, and they’re really just fighting for survival.”
Anyone who has already registered for this year’s Ride will still get a Love Ride 26 pin, patch and tee-shirt.
This seems to be one more sign that the great, loud, good natured, expensive teal bike and “custom chopper” party that started back in the early 80s might finally be coming to an end. Too bad about that. It was fun while it lasted.