The patented roar of Harley Davidson motorcycles filled the Sterling Highway July 27 as more than 140 bikes rolled from Anchorage to Soldotna in the second annual "Live Ride."
The event, sponsored by Kenai Peninsula Harley Davidson and Buell, wasn't about showing off speed or power, though -- it was about raising money for charity.
The Harley Davidson Company sponsors several charity events throughout the country and has pledged to raise $5 million for the Muscular Distrophy Association this year alone.
"I don't know of a dealership that doesn't do at least one large charity run each year," said peninsula store manager Si Zimmerman.
And the area store is no exception.
The "Live Ride" last month raised nearly $26,000 for the MDA.
The fund-raiser works like this:
Riders pay $30 for a Live Ride pack which includes an itinerary, arm band, door prize tickets, lunch voucher, T-shirt and pledge forms. In addition to their own $30 contribution, riders seek community sponsorship for the fund-raiser. For each $100 pledged, the rider gets an entry in a drawing -- this year for a new motorcycle. The person who gathers the most pledge money also wins a round-trip ticket to Hawaii.
Then, the riders travel from the Anchorage Harley dealership to the peninsula store for an afternoon of food, music, booths and fun. This year's event even included a mechanical salmon ride -- like a mechanical bull -- that Zimmerman said was a big hit.
The event draws people not only from Anchorage and the peninsula, but also the rest of the state -- and Zimmerman said he hopes it will keep growing.
"There are some rides in the Lower 48 that get huge, like 25,000 people," Zimmerman said. "I guess that's what we're getting toward, becoming one of the biggest rides in the Northwest."
This year's $26,000 take was up from $16,000 last year. The store has set a goal of $40,000 for next year. And it's even expanding its parking lot and putting in a permanent pavilion and camping area to better host the event in the future.
"We have a really strong showing of riders from the peninsula and our local Harley owner's group, and people came from across the state," Zimmerman said. But, he added, more people, especially from the peninsula, are always welcome.
"The boys from Anchorage and the valley really get into it and the participation by riders on the peninsula is pretty great," he said, "but it would be nice to see some people who wouldn't normally come to the store."
The peninsula has another year to wait before the next big "Live Ride," but the store is already planning its next event -- a celebration of the Harley Davidson Company's 100th anniversary.
Anniversary motorcycles will be paraded into town and the store will host an afternoon of bike shows, seminars, food and music. Kenai Peninsula Harley Davidson and Buell is located on the Sterling Highway, just south of Big John's Tesoro. For more information, call the store at 260-6777.
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