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For the Love of the Ride

Josh Kleinbaum

Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Annette Amirian would occasionally hop

on a small straight- throttle motorcycle and ride around the rural

farmland.

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“It wasn’t even mine,” recalled the Burbank resident. “It was just

one we used to share with our friends. We used to mess around, that

sort of thing. Nothing serious. Not like I am now.”

Amirian, a 44-year-old nurse at Glendale Memorial Hospital, was

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voted best nurse by patients last year. She is a tall blond who just

happens to ride a Harley-Davidson during her free time. Sunday,

Amirian will ride in her third Love Ride -- a 50-mile trek from

Glendale to Castaic Lake, for charity -- with about 15,000 other

motorcycle riders.

“I’m one of those weekend warriors,” Amirian said. “I ride to work

in the summertime when it’s nice. It’s total enjoyment, and a good

stress buster. When you’re riding, you don’t think of anything but

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riding.”

Amirian started riding three years ago. Her boyfriend at the time

had a motorcycle, and she would ride on the back. But she wanted to

be in control, with one hand on the throttle and one hand on the

clutch. So she went out and bought a bike, shocking her friends and

family.

“They thought I was losing my mind,” Amirian said. “They’d say,

‘Are you crazy? What are you thinking?’ ”

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Amirian was a quick study, perhaps because of her experience on

the straight-throttle bike back in Iowa. And in biking, Amirian

discovered the instant bond that motorcycles can create. Through HOG

-- the Harley Owners Group -- and other groups, she met other bikers

and made plenty of friends. Three years ago, she joined the Love

Ride, a massive bike parade to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy

Assn. and other charities.

Now, the Love Ride is back for its 20th anniversary.

“It grew by leaps and bounds the first 10 years, and it kind of

reached the point of saturation, the plateau, and we’re still there,”

said Oliver Shokouh, owner of Harley-Davidson of Glendale and founder

of the Love Ride. “I don’t think we’re going to get much bigger.

Maybe we shouldn’t get much bigger. We fill up about 23 city blocks

here in Glendale as is.”

Since Shokouh began the ride two decades ago, it has blossomed

into a biking institution. Comedian Jay Leno, who has been the grand

marshal of the event nine of the past 10 years, is back, and Peter

Fonda, star of “Easy Rider,” will serve as honorary grand marshal.

Rockers ZZ Top will headline the concert at Castaic Lake.

Other celebrity participants will include Slash, Robert Patrick,

Ronald McDonald -- who will be in a sidecar -- and Evan Marriott, the

original “Joe Millionaire.”

About 5,300 bikers have registered for the event at

Harley-Davidson of Glendale or on the Love Ride’s Web site, although

most riders wait until the morning of the event to sign up and pay

the $60 donation.

“It’s just so wonderful when you look out in the crowd to see how

many people have gathered,” said Emily Shokouh, Oliver’s daughter.

“The enter- tainment is good, the food is good, and most important,

we’re here to raise money for charities.”

And for riders like Amirian, it’s a chance to meet and bond with

other bikers.

“It’s not for everybody, and I’m not an advocate for or against

motorcycle riding,” Amirian said. “They’re big, powerful machines --

but it’s a lot of fun. And I have met so many really nice people.”


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