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The Love Ride returns to Castaic

Two killed on their way to Castaic Lake

Posted: October 23, 2011 8:09 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2011 8:09 p.m.

Motorcyclists arrive at Castaic Lake for the destination of the Love Ride on Sunday.

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Hundreds of bikers taking part in the 28th annual Love Ride charity event for autism returned to Castaic Lake after five years Sunday for a day of songs, jokes and reconnecting — a day also marred with tragedy for two of their own.

A man and a woman, reportedly on their way to the Love Ride charity event, died Sunday when their motorcycle collided with a big rig on Interstate 5, authorities said.

California Highway Patrol Officer Christian Craycraft says the motorcycle was riding between lanes on the northbound 5 freeway in Pacoima late Sunday morning when the crash happened. Paramedics declared a man and a woman dead at the scene.

The wreck occurred as dozens of motorcyclists crowded the freeway on the 28th annual “Love Ride,” a mobile charity fund raiser.

No names have been released until a family member is notified, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, she said it appears the couple were on their way to the Love Ride event.

Hundreds of bikers
As hundreds gathered for Love Ride 28 on the shores of Castaic Lake, near a stage and outdoor concert seats set out in bales of hay, the man with the microphone made repeated references to the freeway crash.

TV talk show host Jay Leno was expected to be Love Ride’s official master of ceremonies but was reportedly with the family of the ill-fated motorcycle couple.

Three of the four northbound lanes were closed for nearly three hours because of the crash, delaying scores on their way to the event, according to event organizers and attendees.

“It’s really unfortunate about the accident and about Jay,” said biker Phil Tilbury, who has attended the each of the last 10 Love Rides.

“I’m absolutely delighted it’s back here at Castaic Lake,” he said. “I was very disappointed when they left.”

The annual ride makes a ritualistic journey from Glendale to Castaic Lake. For the last couple of years however, participants rode to a destination other than the Castaic Lake.

Tilbury said Castaic Lake should remain Love Ride’s permanent home, a sentiment expressed on stage several times over the course of the day.

“We’re back to Castaic,” said an enthusiastic man on stage. “We love Castaic Lake, and we want to build our Love Ride to what I remember. Five or 10 years ago, I would stand here and there would be a sea of people all the way to the top —
so lets get back here to do that again.”

High temperatures
With October temperatures reaching into the low 90s, many leather-clad bikers lounged in the shade of trees throughout the park.

Scores of food trucks overlooking the lake prompted long lines.

The big concert for the day featured a performance by star country music duo Montgomery Gentry.

For the Gordon family of motorcycle enthusiasts in Valencia, Love Ride 28 is more than just bikes.

“My niece is autistic, and her son is autistic,” said Jill Gordon. “So this means a lot.”

Her husband, John, was reunited briefly, he said, with an old Triumph bike similar to the one he says he rode in England.

“There were a couple of bad accidents apparently,” he said, comparing this year’s turnout with that of prior years, “I think that kind of slowed them (attendees) down a bit.”

For Vietnam veteran “Ike” Ikerd of Ventura, who sat on a hay bale by the stage, sporting a vest covered with patches, the Love Ride has become a ritual.

“I had a bike back in the ’60s,” he said. “When I came back from ’Nam I bought a little Honda and then got rid of it.

“It was actually my son who told me I was a workaholic and that I needed a hobby. So he suggested, ‘Get an old Harley and work on it.’ I said ‘No. I’m going to buy a new Harley and ride it.’”

That ride has led him to every Love Ride since 2000, he said.

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