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Crowds return for 87th Bike Week



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Chris Huddleson of Patch Works sews on patches for a customer. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
June 16, 2010
MEREDITH — Despite weather issues and the poor economy, motorcyclists are gathering in the area for Bike Week.

The 87th Annual Laconia Race and Rally officially kicked off on Thursday with a visit from Gov. John Lynch at the Lobster Pound in the Weirs. Activities began on Friday and will continue through to Sunday.

Charlie St. Claire, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said on Thursday that he was looking forward to many visitors.

"We're just looking forward to a very busy rally," St. Clair said. "Hopefully the weather will cooperate. It just becomes a blur kind of because we have so many different things we're working on right now. I just try to focus on the physical part, public safety; everybody plays a part in their jobs and it has just all come together this week. Mother Nature plays a big role in that."

St. Clair said he saw people coming into the area and setting up for the week starting the week before. Some people will stay for the entire week, while some will stay for a few days.

The first weekend saw rain, though the weather brightened up by Monday.

While most of the action was on the Weirs, Laconia Harley Davidson in Meredith was a popular location for cyclists as well.

"Laconia Harley Davidson predicts this will be a banner Bike Week in New Hampshire, if 2010 sales thus far are an indication of what is to come," the company said in a statement.

The company said its sales have been "robust" and it set records in 2009 for its sales and attendance.

"We are expecting even greater crowds than 2009 and could quite possibly reach levels of riders not seen in a decade," said Anne Deli, owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson in a statement. "Last year riders from 36 states and six Canadian provinces passed through the doors of our dealership. Our sales were up 77 percent in 2009 and stronger still so far in 2010. Following a Memorial Day Weekend which exceeded NH Division of Travel & Tourism expectations with over 535,000 out-of-state visitors spending more than $83 million; we are optimistic that 2010 will be a record year for Laconia Harley and Laconia Bike Week."

By early Monday evening, a sizeable crowd was seen around Laconia Harley Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm, many perusing the vendors in both parking lots selling everything from jewelry to bike detailing and repairs.

John and Chris Huddleson brought their store Patch World to Bike Week at they have since 2006.

Co-owner Chris Huddleson said they left the Americade rally in Lake George, N.Y., on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and were in Laconia by 2:30 p.m. Their stand was in the Weirs by Weirs Beach Waterslide their first year, though it has been in Meredith for the past few years, a venue they have been happy with.

"Every year our business has gone up even with the bad inflation," Chris Huddleson said.

Motorcycles in both parking lots had license places from several different states and provinces as well as many from New Hampshire.

Peter Cumming of Shediac, New Brunswick traveled 11-and-a-half hours with two friends for his fourth Bike Week.

Cumming works in Information Technology and has been riding for the past 12 years, also making trips to Daytona and more local bike rallies. Laconia is a stop he enjoys making.

"I look forward to this," Cumming said. "This is my relaxation, listening to bikes rumble."

Rick Stephens, Paul Wise, and Luke Atkinson of Parkersburg, W. Va., traveled for three days on two-lane roads to get to their first Laconia Bike Week.

They have been to several other rallies and came to Laconia after Stephens mentioned it.

"This is the oldest one, everybody's got to come here," Stephens said.

In addition to taking part in the rally, they wanted to do other activities such as ride up the Mount Washington Auto Road.

They planned to leave on Thursday and possibly come back in the future with other people.

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