Motorcycle Week

By: Christine Hersom


(4 min read)

And that’s a wrap!

This past week was motorcycle week in New Hampshire. We fondly call it bike week. It was slated to rain the entire week right through Father’s Day. People in this area will say, “Yeah, it’s motorcycle week” when people complain about the weather.

We say, Ah, yes, motorcycle week in the rain. It is a New England tradition that never fails to disappoint. Every year, thousands of bikers from all over the country descend upon the small town of Laconia, New Hampshire, for a full week of celebrating all things motorcycle. And every year, it seems, it rains. The organizers even tried changing the week of the annual Motorcycle Week. It didn’t work…the rain followed the motorcycles.

You would think that the rain would put a damper on the festivities surrounding motorcycles. I mean, really, who wants to ride in the rain? You would be wrong. The bikers that come to Laconia are a hardy bunch. They do not let a little (or a lot) of rain get in the way of their good time.

Motorcycle Week has changed a lot in the past 100 years. When I was a young adult, it was a wild, constant party. Like Mardi Gras, men would give out beads to women who would bare their chests. The first time I went, I was about 21 years old. I grew up in a small town in Northern New Hampshire. I was horrified by all the skin, bike gangs, and alcohol. But once I calmed down, I realized it was just adults having fun, relieving stress, and letting it all hang out. In the past twenty years, the organizers have tried to make it more of a family event. Kids love to walk down the boulevard looking at all the bikes. With a more “kid-friendly” approach, the arrests are down, and the partying is kept in certain areas. Not everybody likes this approach, but it hasn’t slowed down the numbers that arrive for the week.

Some of the most memorable times of motorcycle week have happened in the rain. One time a group of motorcycle riders and their lady friends decided to have a wet t-shirt contest in the pouring rain. Instead of achieving the sexy look they were striving for, they all looked like drowned rats. They didn’t care. They laughed and had fun.

Another time, the bikers wanted to have a burnout show in the rain. They ended up slipping and sliding all over the place. No burnouts were recorded. Again, they didn’t care. They turned it into a show to see who could keep their bike upright the longest, trying to do burnouts in the rain.

One of the most loved parts of all the rain is the mud. The continuous rain turns some streets into mud pits. The bikers love it. Some of them wear rubber boots and raincoats to stay dry, and they play in the mud like little kids. The hill climbs are usually on Wednesday of bike week. Those guys and gals love the mud. They slip and slide their way up the hill to see who is the Master by making it to the top in the fastest time. It amazes me how much fun they have slipping and sliding their way to the top.

This year is the 100th anniversary of Motorcycle Week in Laconia. The first weekend usually includes bikers from New England. It’s usually quiet at the beginning of the week, and then thousands of bikes arrive on Thursday for a long weekend of celebration at the end of the week. This year, rain and all, the bikes are showing up in droves.

I live on Route 132, which is a big riding route during Bike Week. Thousands of bikes go by my house every day. We love to sit outside and watch them pass. When I had my bike, riding Route 132 was one of my favorite pastimes.

There are downsides to the rain. The vendors must try and keep their merchandise dry. Bikers who travel from far away often must camp in the rain. That can often be a less-than-pleasant experience. Luckily, there are many laundromats around to dry your wet belongings.

But, even with all the rain, motorcycle week in Laconia is still one of the most fun and entertaining events of the year for many people. The bikers come to ride, party, and show off their bikes, rain, or shine. The fact that it seems to rain every year, well, that just makes it even more memorable.

So, if you’re ever in New England during motorcycle week and it’s raining, don’t let that stop you from joining in the fun. Just grab a raincoat, a pair of boots, and a sense of humor, and get ready to make some memories that you’ll laugh about for years to come. 

Christine Marshall Hersom
All Things Wellness, LLC

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