Bike Week's reach extends to Mount Washington ValleyBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent June 11. 2014 9:43PM
Although its epicenter is in Laconia, Bike Week is increasingly becoming a statewide event, with more people coming north to stay in and explore the Mount Washington Valley.
One huge draw is the opportunity to ride up to the top of the Northeast’s highest peak. Known as Ride to the Sky, the motorcycles-only event has taken off since its inception a decade ago, said Dan Houde, marketing director of the Mount Washington Auto Road.
This year’s Ride to the Sky will be held on both June 16 and June 19.
“It’s a pretty big day out around here and if the weather’s good, it’s a pretty amazing scene,” Houde said Wednesday.
The 91st running of Bike Week, which is formally known as Laconia Motorcycle Week, begins Saturday and concludes on June 22.
“We started to see that the days were getting pretty filled with motorcycles on the road and it seemed only natural that we reserved one day so that the motorcycles felt safe on the road without any other vehicles,” Houde said of Ride to the Sky. “It wasn’t too long after that when we realized how popular it was and we decided to add a second day.”
If riders show up before 10 a.m. on the Ride to the Sky days, their passengers ride for free, he said.
On the “ride” days, the auto road averages between 1,000 and 3,000 riders, said Houde, “but we have had as many as 4,000.”
Down Route 16 in North Conway, the Mt. Washington Valley Riders will also be welcoming Bike Week visitors.
Based at Hillbilly’s Southern BBQ Restaurant, the not-for-profit club sponsors Rally in the Valley, which serves to promote motorcycle riding in the area and also to raise money for scholarships given annually to local students attending technical and trade schools.
Wristbands for a variety of different activities are available for $5 at Hillbilly’s. Owner Frank Welch said Wednesday the rally is a complement to Bike Week, not a competitor.
“This is our fifth year and there’s over 60 sponsors and dozens of places offering discounts with the wristbands all over the valley,” said Welch, adding that more information is available at www.rallyinthevalley.net.
“Attendance has been excellent,” since Rally in the Valley began, Welch said, “and it’s grown tremendously” as has the ability of the Mt. Washington Valley Riders to award more scholarships, increasing from one to six.
The folks who come to Rally in the Valley, Welch said, “bring a lot of business and they’re great people, too.”