LACONIA — Welcome to the 93rd running of Laconia Motorcycle Week, the world's oldest motorcycle rally. The long-term forecast looks great, so, what else do you need to know if it's your first time to Laconia?
Where to go
While people who visit Laconia Motorcycle Week will spend time throughout the state, even crossing into Maine or Vermont, the epicenter of activity is Weirs Beach. Lakeside Avenue, and the boardwalk that skirts it, is the place to go to see the greatest concentration of motorcycles in the area. Laconia police will close Lakeside Avenue to four-wheel traffic, and depending on traffic, may also restrict access to the Weirs Bridge, leaving the area accessible to only to motorcycles and pedestrians. The Laconia Roadhouse, which springs up each year in the parking lot of Faro Italian Grill, located across from the intersection of Lakeside Ave and Route 3, hosts hundreds of vendors and entertainment.
Laconia Harley-Davidson, which is actually located in Meredith, also endeavors to host a Motorcycle Week of its own, with vendors, food and entertainment in its parking lot as well as the lot of the neighboring Hart's Turkey Farm.
The New Hampshire Motor Speedway is becoming a third major destination for Motorcycle Week events. The track, in Loudon, will host vintage motorcycle racing with a FIM North America United States Classic Racing Association event on June 11 and 12. From June 13 through 18, the facility will host seven-mile demo rides for the latest products from Harley-Davidson, Can-Am, Yamaha, Ducati, Victory, Indian and Slingshot. More than 26 races will be held June 17-19, and southern rock group Jackyl will perform on Saturday, July 18.
Where to park
A multitude of private parking lots in and around The Weirs will be happy to allow you to park your bike or car, for a fee. You shouldn't have to pay more than $5 for motorcycle parking, though parking a car might cost double or even quadruple that price.
Better than searching for a parking lot near Weirs Beach, then walking to the action, is taking the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. For $15, round-trip, you can park at the Meredith Train Station and ride directly to the Weirs Beach boardwalk. The train runs every hour, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 11 and 12, and from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 16-19. Note that there's no train service July 13-15.
The train will also run from Lakeport, near the Elm Street-Union Avenue intersection, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on June 17 and 18.
Where to ride
The Lakes Region is an awesome place to ride, due to its plethora of curvy roads with scenic views of lakes and mountains. Head north for the Kancamagus Highway, running from Lincoln to Conway, or the Mount Washington Auto Road. There are many great rides nearby, too. White Oaks Road is a pastoral alternative to Weirs Boulevard. Route 28A in Alton follows the shoreline of Alton Bay. Waukewan Road in Meredith offers great views of Lake Waukewan, and Winona Road (which intersects with Waukewan Road) is a curvy and scenic ride into downtown Ashland.
In fact, it's hard to find a road in the area that isn't either scenic or fun; most are both. Afraid of getting lost? Join one of the many group rides offered during Motorcycle Week. Most of them also raise funds for worthy causes.
How to avoid the congestion
With the concentration of Motorcycle Week activities contained to Weirs Beach and the stretch of Route 3 in front of Laconia Harley-Davidson in Meredith, savvy locals know how to bypass these areas if they don't want to get stuck. If heading from Gilford to Meredith, take Route 11 to Union Avenue in Laconia, then take a right on Elm Street, then another right on Parade Road/Route 106. Right after crossing the town line in Meredith, take another left on to Pease Road, which will come to a stoplight at Route 104. Take a right onto Route 104, then a quick left onto Waukewan Street, which will take you right into downtown Meredith, having skipped both the Weirs and the Laconia Harley-Davidson congestion.
For scrapes and tears
If you're in need of emergency care, there are hospitals in Laconia (Lakes Region General), Plymouth (Speare Memorial) and Wolfeboro (Huggis). But, if you're ailment isn't of the emergency variety, you can access the walk-in care at LRGHealthcare clinics operated in the Hillside Medical Park, on Maple Street in Gilford, and on the third floor of Laconia Clinic, on Main Street. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, 8 to 5 on the weekend. For more information, call 603-527-2896.
If it's just your jacket or boot that needs mending, Daub's Cobbler Shop, on Canal Street in downtown Laconia, offers leather repair services. He'll also be happy to sew a patch onto your jacket.
For breakfast, try Donna Jean's Diner near the Weirs Traffic Circle, Nothin' Fancy on Weirs Boulevard, or Kitchen Cravings on Route 11 in Gilford. For lunch and dinner, Ellacoya Barn and Grill in Gilford serves rustic American cuisine, The Holy Grail in downtown Laconia has the most impressive list of beers on tap, Patrick's Pub and Eatery is the place to go for dinner and entertainment, The Naswa on Weirs Boulevard has both a beach bar and fine dining at Blue Bistro, and the Shang Hai, on South Main Street, is the locals' favorite for Chinese buffet. There's also the China Bistro, which for years has been advertising, without a stitch of irony, that it serves the "Best Crab Rangoons in the Country." We'll let you be the judge.
For information about daily events associated with Laconia Motorcycle Week, visit laconiamcweek.com.