Traditional riding events still at heart of nation's oldest motorcycle rally

LACONIA — The 92nd anniversary edition of Laconia Motorcycle Week, the nation's oldest such rally, remains true to its tradition of providing top notch adventures for riders.
''We're known as America's original riding rally for a good reason,'' says Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. "'We've always concentrated on riding events which give people the chance to take advantage of winding roads and picturesque views of all parts of the state. That's why the rally call is, ''In Laconia, we ride.''
St. Clair points out that New Hampshire has the second highest rate of motorcycle riders in the whole country and has always been a haven for motorcyclists, who first began gathering at the Weirs in 1917 for the New England Gypsy Tour.
The Motorcycle and Bicycle Illustrated reported on June 7, 1917 ''Gypsy tourists of Littleton under the guidance of Tour Manager Sullivan A. Fleury have arranged to join with tourists of the Bay State M.C. for a two-day tour to the Weirs on Lake Winnipesaukee. Littleton riders will cover approximately 160 miles, the course leading through Franconia Notch to Plymouth, Ashland and Weirs.''
He says that this year is no exception with a wide variety of rides scheduled starting today and running through next weekend.
The 9th annual Peter Makris Memorial Run, which has raised over $275,000 since its inception, will start from the NASWA Resort on Weirs Blvd. this morning at 11 a.m. for a ride with a State Police escort around Lake Winnipesaukee. The annual charity run that benefits the Laconia Fire Department Lifesaving Fund and Water Rescue Team and the Easter Seals NH Veterans Count program.
On Sunday the AMA Gypsy Tour ride leaves rally headquarters on the Weirs Beach boardwalk at 10:30 a.m. for vintage motorcycle races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
On Monday the second annual Mae West Memorial 'for the love of pets' Ride leaves rally headquarters at 10:30 a.m. and after a tour through local scenic towns ends at Junior's Crush House in Gilford. Proceeds benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society.
Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. a Gypsy Tour ride leaves rally headquarters for a scenic ride to Bentley's Saloon in Arundel, Maine.
Wednesday will see a covered bridge Gypsy Tour leaving rally headquarters at 10:30 a.m. for a 200 mile scenic ride which will take in at least 10 covered bridges in New Hampshire.
On Thursday there will the annual ''Ride to the Sky'' up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, which is open only to motorcycles and the 22nd annual POW/MIA Freedom Ride from Lowe's parking lot in Gilford to the POW/MIA monument at Hesky Park in Meredith. The ride gets underway at 6 p.m.
Cynthia Makris, the general manager of the NASWA Resort who chairs the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association (LMWA), says the association is marking its 25th year organizing and promoting the rally.
She says that Motorcycle Week ''is like our baby. We have raised it and continue to treat it delicately as we feel like all those who are here to ride or here to assist those who ride are part of the Laconia motorcycle family.''

Fire/Rescue responds to overdose in restaurant bathroom

LACONIA — As the group America's 1971 pop hit "A Horse with No Name" played in the background, police and firefighters worked feverishly yesterrday in the bathroom of a local restaurant to assist a man who had apparently overdosed on some kind of drug.

Chief Ken Erickson said the man had a piece of tin foil and had apparently been heating and snorting something from it.

He said rescue personnel administered Narcan — an anti-opiate — and the man appeared to recover. He was sitting upright in an ambulance gurney when he was wheeled from the bathroom.

The man, who appeared to be about 30, was taken by ambulance to Lakes Regional General Hospital for evaluation.

The rock group America always said the song was not about heroin although "horse" has long been a nickname for the drug.

Downtown traffic pattern back to normal

LACONIA — As scheduled, the Main Street Bridge was reopened to traffic and the downtown traffic pattern was restored on the eve of Motorcycle Week.

The bridge began carrying southbound traffic from Beacon Street West across the Winnipesaukee River on Thursday, when main Street was reopened to northbound traffic and traffic was no longer detoured through downtown.

Paul Moynihan, director of Public Works, said that during Motorcycle Week, work at the bridge will be limited and afterwards the flow of traffic will be uninterrupted save for occasional lane closures to facilitate remaining work on the railings, drainage, lighting and sidewalks. Construction of the Gateway Plaza — the fifth and final phase of the project — will begin in the middle of June. The project includes landscaping of the areas south of Sawyer's Jewelry and the parking garage, the traffic island between Main Street and the Landmark Inn and the sidewalk between Beacon Street East and Stewart Park as well as improvements to the pedestrian crossings throughout the intersection.

At the same time, tMoynihan said that the final work on the rehabilitation of the bridge will be undertaken with paving and striping expected to extend into late August with completion of the project anticipated in early September.