Locals, visitors reflect on what Laconia Bike Week means to them

  • David Parvis, of St. Petersburg, Fla., poses for a photo during his first-ever trip to Laconia Bike Week on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Lisa West of Laconia says Bike Week is an important part of her city’s history and success. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The Sanborn and Lorden families. From left, Connor Sanborn, 12, Kelly Lorden, Brooklyn Lorden, 12, Jennifer Sanborn and Christian Sanborn, 12. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jason Henson of Pittsburg, Pa., is an aspiring comedian who travels to bike weeks across the country. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Two staples of Bike Week in Laconia: Ron Reitz and Paul Cole at Weirs the Beef on the main drag. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • From left to right: Miranda Flood, Ron Reitz, Paul Cole and Forrester Johnstone pose for a photo Friday before the start of Laconia’s Bike Week. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Friday, June 10, 2016

If there’s one thing that all live-free-or-die Granite Staters can count on, it’s that when summer rolls into New Hampshire, so will the motorcycles. 

June in New Hampshire is all about motorcycle week, and Laconia has one of the oldest in the country. Established in 1923, Bike Week in Laconia will celebrate its 93rd anniversary this year from today through June 19.

The Monitor headed to the heart of it all, Laconia, and asked locals and visitors, what Bike Week means to them. 

David Parvis

David Parvis is a self proclaimed “bike week virgin,” but that’s all about to change. Parvis, a retired insurance marketer and native of St. Petersburg, Fla., dreams of seeing the world on his Honda Shadow VT1100 Ace Tourer – and he’s starting in New Hampshire

“I’m doing a 360 – all four corners of the United States,” Parvis said. “I wrote down every bike week in the country. I’m starting in Laconia and then going to Sturgis in South Dakota, and that will be last one until next year when I go to Texas. Then I’ll do Dayton in Florida.”

Parvis said it was time he crossed a couple of things off his bucket list, bike week being one of them.

“I have been planning to take a bike trip for years. I’m getting to be an old guy, so I’m trying to get some things done that I’ve thought about doing for a long time.”

Liz West

For Liz West, motorcycle week means community.

“Bike Week gives riders a chance to commune together and see all different kinds of bikes and designs, and meet different people and vendors,” West said.

She said it’s also an important piece of the town’s history and success.

“I think this is a great attribute of Laconia. Without Bike Week, Weirs beach would be a ghost town,” said West, a town resident. “I’m not sure that this area would have the means to really survive without it.”

But she does admit the event isn’t for everyone.

“A lot of people don’t like the noise,” she said. “But it’s only one week a year.”

West said she wishes New Hampshire was more welcoming to bikers.

“I think people have a misconstrued idea of what a biker is,” she said. “We do a lot more than ride our bikes. We do a lot of charity runs, community events, runs to raise funding for good causes. I’d like to see the town of Laconia open their arms and do more.”

Miranda Flood

Miranda Flood describes her Laconia Bike Week experience in two words: Absolute insanity.

And for her, it really is. Flood is the owner and proprietor of “Weirs the Beef,” a restaurant and bar on the main drag of Weirs Beach, and Bike Week is her busiest time of the year.

“We do our volume for the whole season in these 10 days,” Flood said. “My staff will work 140 hours this week. We’re open 7 a.m. to midnight and we’ll all be working 12 hours a day.”

“It’s stressful, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it,” she said.

Flood, who is the ninth born of 15 siblings, started riding Harley motorcycles when she was 16. This year she is celebrating her 15th Laconia Bike Week.

Flood’s father started “Weirs the Beef” in 1993, but he passed away last year. After that, Flood took the business over and is now splitting her time between Laconia and Florida, where she lives six months out of the year. Flood travels back to New Hampshire to open “Weirs the Beef” in May and then closes it to move back to Florida in September.

She said that schedule is a major perk of the job. And of course spending time with her regulars, like Paul Cole and Ron Ritz of Laconia  

Jason Henson

Jason Henson likes to make people laugh.

And for an aspiring stand up comedian like himself, there is no better stage than that of the grounds of bike rallies across the country.

Henson doesn’t ride, but he’s been attending bike weeks all over the country since he started working for Motor Cycle Rally U.S.A. last year. Motorcycle Rally U.S.A. is one of the many vendors at the event will have 13 tents at Weirs Beach this week.

Henson is a comedian in his home city of Pittsburg, Pa., and he says a lot of his jokes are inspired from his experiences at Bike Week.

“There are so many great characters here,” he said. “This is where I get some of my best material.”

What Henson enjoys most about Bike Week, however, is the diversity and camaraderie.

“You meet people from all over the country, all over the world, really. You wouldn’t believe the people that are coming to this tent – people from Italy, Germany, Puerto Rico . . . and even though you are getting all these different people from all these different places, they all get along. It’s so cool that something like this could bring people together. It’s special.”

The Sanborn and Lorden Families

Exploring the Main Street of Weirs Beach on the eve of Laconia motorcycle week was a special treat for life-long friends Brooklyn Lorden, 12, and twins Connor and Christian Sanborn, also 12, of Webster on Friday afternoon.

The kids’ mothers, Jennifer Sanborn and Kelly Lorden, decided to check out the festivities after they went on their Merrimack Valley Middle School sixth grade trip on the Mount Washington Cruise.

They said they try to make it to Laconia most years for Bike Week.

“We keep coming up,”  Sanborn said. “We don’t really miss a year.”

Sanborn said she’s noticed a real shift towards a more family-welcome atmosphere in recent years.

“It’s way more family oriented than it used to be,” she said. “I would never have brought them here if it was like it was when I was a kid. But things are changing.”