By Charly SHELTON
Motorcycles and music and food and motorcycles – all for a good cause. This pretty much summarizes the 32nd – and final year – of the largest and longest running one-day charity motorcycle ride in the world: Love Ride. Since 1984, Love Ride has been held annually to raise money for charities while providing a great time, both for bikers and non-bikers alike.
“I thought this would be a great idea, to do a bikers’ carnival rather than a carnival for children,” said Oliver Shokouh, founder of Love Ride. “We did that for a couple of years with some level of success and then I decided it was just too much work and I can’t do it.”
But his customers weren’t about to let the idea die.
“[They said], ‘We had so much fun with these carnivals. Why aren’t you doing it anymore?’” Shokouh recalled. “I thought if I’m going to do it, it’s going to be a labor of love.”
That is when Love Ride was born. In 1984, the first Love Ride was held to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It consisted of a ride from Harley-Davidson in Glendale, which Shokouh owns, up to Castaic Lake where the bikers’ carnival was held. Much to Skokouh’s surprise, Love Ride raised more money and had more participants than the carnival alone. Between the 400 entrants in the ride and the $42,000 raised, it far surpassed the $3,000 raised by the carnival in previous years. And with entrance fees at $25, each rider on average raised about 75 additional dollars for the ride, some by lump sum donations collected and some per-mile donations.
But it didn’t stop there. Each year for the following 10 years, the popularity and amount of money raised doubled, then quadrupled, so that by Love Ride 10, over $1 million was raised for the charity. The largest amount the ride raised was $1.7 million in one year, but typically rested around the $1 million mark for the next dozen-or-so years, said Shokouh. Then donations declined. Last year, they raised only $45,500, with $40,000 going to Muscular Dystrophy Association and $5,500 going to Glendale Community College. Altogether, the Ride has donated over $14 million to various charities in the 32 years of operation.
But this year is the last. Shokouh has decided to end the Love Ride with a bang, pulling out all the stops to make it the biggest ride yet, all to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
“This year, the numbers are looking really good,” said Shokouh. “The event is really talent-driven because as much as people like to come out and support a great cause they also want to be entertained. With the Foo Fighters and Social Distortion as music groups, we’ve registered just a ton of people – close to 8,000 people [as of early October are] pre-registered.”
He added that, typically, about three weeks out, that number swells up to about double.
“So if you get 16,000 people up there [to Castaic], it could be an incredible event and we could probably go back to the model that we established back in the [very successful 1990s] years.”
The event will be held this Sunday, Oct. 18 beginning at Glendale Harley-Davidson at 7 a.m. and ending up at Castaic Lake for the carnival at 10 a.m. Tickets for the concert and carnival are available, as are spots to register for the ride. Pre-registration is $45 and on-site registration is $60.
For more information or to get tickets to ride or to just come and enjoy the carnival and concert, visit loveride.org.