It’s time once again for New Hampshire to echo with the roar of 110 ci engines as hundreds of thousands make the annual pilgrimage to Laconia Bike Week. With New England businesses frothing at the mouth as this week marks the start of summer tourism season, none may get more excited than leather outlets, motorcycle lots, and tattoo parlors. Bike week as it has come to be known is an expression of the freedom, independence, and individuality of those who participate, it is easy to see how tattooists and collectors might feel at home among their ranks.
As one of the three largest motorcycle rallies in the country behind Sturgis and Daytona, Laconia can boast as being the oldest of all. The rally had its start in 1916 with a few hundred riders congregating in the Weirs, where the focus has been “to provide a good time for riders, and their wives, sisters, and sweet-hearts,” and “to create a more favorable public opinion of the motorcycle and motorcycle riders.” By 1924 the American Motorcycle Association was founded and took over sponsorship of the event as it expanded to encompass the entire Lakes Region as road racing and hill climb events in Gilford became part of the rally. The rally broadened its horizons to the rest of New England in 1938 when the Gypsy Tour Race was brought from Old Orchard, Maine to end in Gilford, New Hampshire. The sixties brought turmoil to the event with the Belknap Recreation Area Hill Climb being cancelled in ’62, the road race moved to the New Hampshire International Speedway in ’64 and riots between motorcycle gangs and police in ’65 the event lost a great deal of popularity with locals. It wasn’t until the 1990’s in an effort to bring tourism back to the community that there was a push to extend the event back to its once week long celebration.
While motorcycle week may be synonymous with rebellion and ‘fringe’ culture, it is important to maintain those tenets it was founded on and things we strive for within the tattoo community; providing a good time while improving public opinion and awareness. Stay safe, keep each other safe, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Laconia Motorcycle Week.