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Bikernet Special Report--The Last Love Ride, Maybe

Could There Be a Call from a Higher Order?

By NY Myke from San Diego Harley-Davidson with photos by Markus Cuff

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There will probably be a lot written about the last Love Ride, so adding my 2 cents. Might seem like small potatoes, but the Love Ride holds many great memories for me and at least one I think is important to share.
Petrina and I left Dago at 5:30 a.m. to get to Glendale by 8:00 a.m. for this last of the the great legacy, LoveRide 32. We actually arrived before 7:30 and lucky we did. Seems like they moved everything up an hour because of the rain, concerns about flooding and stuff, but it all went smoothly. The event was sold out, and probably one of the best ever. That is, if you value a totally smooth operation, great entertainment, and awesome motorcycles.
So, did they call it the finale, the last of the great Love Rides? Yes they did and please don't ask me why. I know it's been tough for a few years now but what a shame to call it done!
I came to California in 1987 and already knew about the Love Ride. Fond memories, without a doubt, from every one I went with, including memories of hanging out with so many friends, meeting people I probably wouldn't have met otherwise and enjoying riding my Harley in Los Angeles, definitely not something I get to do too often. It was also very gratifying, especially in the early years, to be part of a motorcycle event that raised so much money for MDA, it's original cause.
I think the focus got diluted when other causes began sharing the funds but Oliver eventually refocused and recipients like the USO and this year The Wounded Warrior Project again gave the event more of a direction. It's in that regard I want to recall my finest memory of The Love Ride and the extraordinary generosity of its founder, Oliver Shokou. It must be clear to everyone by now, this event is a full time all year long undertaking. Only one person, Oliver, could have created this year after year.
It's been a phenomenon studied by many of us with many attempted imitations. It's also been an inspiration for hundreds of similar rides and events. None have measured up to its level of charisma, or have become legacy events. And once in awhile, Oliver was generous enough to carve out a piece of his pie for others with special or unique needs, including group homes for kids supported by Bandit.
One such time was the LoveRide in November of 2001. September 11th hit all of us hard, but none harder than the 900 men and women of the Port Authority Police Department whose home was the World Trade Center. Thirty-seven  of them were murdered that day! I could write a book about this, but I'll try keeping this to the subject.
The families of those killed were devastated emotionally, physically and financially and there were no funds for the P.A.P. families to tap into to get them through the initial expenses and to pay bills, until whatever settlement was made years later. I can't remember how many widows or orphans there were, but I do know several widows were pregnant at the time.
The Widows and Orphans Fund for the families of these deceased first responders was started by Michelle Dell, owner of Hogs and Heiffers, a popular bar not far from what became Ground Zero. She raised around $100,000, and several of us around the country helped out. I lost several friends that day and saw the devastation this tragedy brought to the survivors.
As a side note, let me add that I got to NYC on Thursday 9/13 and stayed for almost two months. In that time, I did what I could to help, attended several funerals, and witnessed the pain, the torment, and suffering of so many, as well as the heroics of so many. Mike Warnock was a P.A. cop who lost more than I can even attempt to document. He also did lots to bring as much comfort and support to his friends and their families.
Mike and I were buds, not all that close but as the aftermath of 9/11 unfolded we spent a lot of time together as he spearheaded much of what was done from the inside, so to speak, and I was one of the outsiders doing what I could. Michelle Dell was technically also an outsider but she was as inside as anyone with "Angel status" could be.
It's hard to explain how unprepared anyone was for an attack like this and how much support was needed. But Michelle stepped up! Warnock, working a full time job as a cop during this tension-filled and heightened period of stress, was also working full-time bringing whatever aid and comfort he could to the families of his fallen brothers in arms.
The LoveRide was coming up as all this was going on. I decided to give my friend Oliver a call and see if he could possibly carve out something and if I could give Mike a platform at the event. He was gracious as always, and after I pestered him with phone calls he agreed to donate as much as $25,000.
Michelle flew out with Warnock, and some others. We all rode up to The LoveRide together, had the best time riding and hanging out until Warnock got up on the stage, a nervous wreck, and did a fabulous job with a great big "HELLO CALIFORNIA." Oliver handed him a check to the Port Authority Police Department Widows and Orphans Fund for $40,000! Wow! And maybe the biggest part, besides the needed money, was the feeling Warnock took back with him. He knew the whole country of bikers was involved. NY was not alone, people far and wide all across America really appreciateed the sacrifice and really cared.
This was a big deal and I'm sure just one example of what a few of us think about when we remember The LoveRide. Of course I also think about LoveRide33! Maybe if 32 ended with a flop I'd be less about bringing it back, but it wasn't close to a flop, it rocked!
There hasn't been many events or rides I remember as fondly. Some gatherings outlive their time, or their relevance, or just fade out because people lose interest. None of that's true of the LoveRide, yet will it be gone like black and white Hollywood movies? Events are harder to put on unless you're an event company with a polished event business plan. The cost, the liability, the diminished returns, the diversion of the attention a primary business needs and deserves, all enter into what causes the demise of otherwise great events.
I've been there at SDHD with the disappointment that comes with the realization that you can't do everything. But we never had a LoveRide and I guess it's harder to sit back and watch it fade into the sunset than to say to Oliver, c'mon do it again, one year at a time: make it The Lasting LoveRide, not the last!
There, I said it!

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