Love Ride 30 Raises over $400,000 for USO

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Abbas Ezzeddine

RIDERS FOR CHARITY: The 30th Annual Love Ride motors out of Glendale on Oct. 20. This years’ recepiant is the USO.

Jonathan Williams, Sports Editor

The Love Ride roared out of Glendale Sunday morning after more than 4,000 people assembled between 6 and 10 a.m. for the ride up to Castaic Lake.

Attendees gathered at the Glendale Harley-Davidson dealership on San Fernando Road at Brand Boulevard. Bikers, musicians and celebrities kicked off the celebration. Some arrived as early as 2 a.m.

Late night talk show host and gearhead Jay Leno was the grand marshal of the event. Leno was joined by other celebrities including Robert Patrick of “Gangster Squad, 2013.” Williams G. Davidson, grandson of Harley co-founder William Davidson, was on hand to join Leno and Patrick and kickstart the festivities.

In honor of the 30th anniversary, “Americas Got Talent” finalist American Hitmen; and SoCal natives, the Loveless headlined the morning celebration.

“Sons of Anarchy” star, Katey Sagal, sang with band the Forest Rangers at the afternoon event in Castaic. Other bands included, Chevy Metal and Jackson Browne.

The Love Ride takes a large amount of preparation and time to put together. Many were on hand to see that the ride went smoothly.

“I’m crazy enough to be out here at 2 o’clock in the morning,” volunteer Larry Dunn said.

The ride has hundreds of volunteers who close the street, and staff the registration booth.

Registration began at 6 a.m. An early start was essential so it could end at 4 p.m. Dunn said it was worth the work.

Dunn said that he would be lucky to get out of Glendale by noon and catch a couple of minutes of the last band at the other end of the ride. The ride heads up to Castaic Lake about 40 miles north of Glendale up the I-5.

Oliver Shokouh, owner of Glendale Harley Davidson and chairman of the Love Ride, has been there since the first event in November of 1984. It has grown since then with more and more riders itching to enjoy the fun. In 2011, an accident involving a Love Ride participant and a semi-truck on the I-5 freeway made the Love Ride more about injury and less about charity. Two riders ended up dead.

“It really had nothing to do with the Love Ride,” said Shokouh, “we are sorry for their family and friends.”

Shokouh said that the rider and his passenger were “white lining” and the wide handlebars caused the wreck. White-lining is when a motorcyclist rides the white lines in between two lanes of traffic. The driver became a little to jumpy with excitement.

“He was getting a little anxious,” he said.

The Love Ride has taken many precautions to try and prevent more deaths. Shokouh said that alcohol is cut off at 2 p.m. the same day and urges every rider to be safe on the ride up. As part of the safety precautions, the local police send out additional officers to oversee the Love Ride.

“A lot of the stragglers try to jump in,” said Sgt. Mike Glassick of the Glendale Police Department.

Police block off a lane on the I-5 for motorcyclists so the riders can drive freely up to the lake. Other riders who do not participate in the Glendale events will try to sneak into the blocked off lane.

“We’ve had some serious accidents in the past,” Glassick said. “Rider safety is important.”

The 30th annual Love Ride raised about $400,000 for the USO with no incidents reported. The Love Ride Foundation has raised nearly $24.5 million since its inception.