Black leather and blue denim dominated south Glendale on Sunday morning as 1,000 Harley-Davidson enthusiasts rumbled to the starting point of the annual Love Ride.
After the recession forced a one-year hiatus in 2009, founder Oliver Shokouh, owner of Harley-Davidson of Glendale, was back leading the event he founded in 1984 to support charity and celebrate the riding life.
"Last year we hit a snag, but everyone else did, too," Shokouh told a crowd as riders registered at tents outside his San Fernando Road shop and admired the souped-up Harleys parked on nearby streets.
Over the years, the ride has raised more than $14 million for children's charities. This year's beneficiary is Autism Speaks.
In the past, tens of thousands of riders clogged San Fernando Road and Glendale Avenue at the start of the ride, headed for festivals at Castaic Lake or Pomona. This year, the crowd was limited to 1,000 riders, and the post-ride party was at Calamigos Ranch in the mountains above Malibu, the destination of the original Love Ride. Robbie Krieger, guitarist of the Doors, was among the riders and performed at the ranch Sunday.
Grand Marshal Jay Leno and several others said they liked the scaled-down event and the return to Calamigos. When cruising with as many as 25,000 riders, Leno told the crowd from a stage set up on Mira Loma Avenue, "The first guy falls down, you are down for the rest of the day."
Other notables at the event included Harley-Davidson Motor Co. President Willie G. Davidson; Sugar Bear, builder of long and low custom choppers since 1971; actor Lorenzo Lamas; and cast members from the FX Network program "Sons of Anarchy."
Leno introduced Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero and Mayor Ara Najarian in a brief kick-off ceremony, asking Najarian what he plans to do for voters.
Najarian answered gamely. "A bike in every garage," he said.
Several riders said they were participating for the first time, but most were Love Ride veterans.
Roy Simison, who brought his Harley-Davidson Sportster with a 1,200 cc engine, said Sunday was his 20th Love Ride.
"You like riding bikes. You like people who ride bikes. What's not to like?" he said.
"The feeling that is the greatest is when all these bikes fire up. The vibration, you can feel it in your bones. It's cool."
Candy Shipley of Canyon Country used to ride on the back of her brother's hog.
"This was my date every year with my brother, the Love Ride," she said.
Now her brother, Dan Perkins, has another passenger, and Shipley has her own Harley.
"I started seeing more and more women on motorcycles and I said, 'I can do that,'" Shipley said.
David Lanford of Arlington, Texas, came out to visit friend O.T. Hight of Burbank and timed his trip to be part of the Love Ride.
"You don't get this in Texas," Lanford said. "There's nothing like it."