by Kathleen Pulek, Middletown Chronicle, September, 2014
Click HERE for the full gallery of images from this event.
The roar, rumble and burble of classic, custom and vintage motorcycles filled the air as the ninth annual Motorcycle Mania electrified Middletown’s downtown area on Wed., Aug 20. More than 5,000 bikes lined Main Street from Washington Street to the packed South Green, the municipal parking garage rooftop and the north end of Main Street for the gathering heralded as the largest one-day summer bike event in New England.
“The weather makes or breaks our attendance,” said Cathy Duncan, event coordinator for the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce. “With excellent weather, we have record numbers of bikes and people, and all proceeds will again support local youth programs in the city.”The bikes and the teeming crowd arrived early and stayed late. “We had the main gate [south end of Main Street] open until 5:45 or 6:00 p.m. The second gate on lower Court Street was opened at 5:45 p.m. and when all parking was finished at 7:30 pm, people were finding spaces by themselves,” said Duncan.
“We had about 80 volunteers, including 10 or so from Liberty Bank and about 20 of the Haymond [Law] Girls. Rich Greco is the event chairman and Kent Levack is the coordinator of volunteers. Everyone worked very hard at this event, including the whole staff at the Middlesex Chamber.”
Hunter Limousines, Hunter’s Ambulance and the Hunter Family once again presented the event, held in memory of founding sponsor Dan Hunter. Event sponsors included The City of Middletown, Liberty Bank, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Charles Computer Services, Middletown Downtown Business District, Bank of America, Haymond Law Office, Gengras Motorcycles, Middlesex Music Academy, Home Team Supply, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Avon Products – Middletown, Fabian Associates – A Connecticut Casualty Co., Mezzo Grille, Middletown Area Transit, Minuteman Press, and Untouchable Towing.Musical stylings throughout the evening included Branded’s high-energy country, while Storm Roller filled the air with rock and roll. WMRD/WLIS radio broadcast live from in front of the Chamber office and DJ Les Benfield was located in the South Green Gazebo.
The tempting fare of the many downtown restaurants mingled with the offerings from a variety of vendors to tantalize the more than 12,000 people jammed into the downtown area on a picture-perfect summer evening.
George Ryan was among Motorcycle Mania’s 51 vendors. “This is a great event and the weather is just perfect,” Ryan enthused. “The bike community is a very charitable group, so we’re here to promote our Sept. 21 Motorcycle Ride and Zombie Biker Chili Cookoff to benefit the George N. Ryan Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in memory of my son who passed away in 2012 at age 19. In the 14 months we’ve been in existence, we’ve given away over $41,000 to help area high school students attend college.“We start Sept. 21 with a short ride at 10:30 am and then it’s back to the Middletown Elks Club on Maynard Road around noon, when the general public will start coming in. We’ve got championship chili cooks coming from all over New England for the International Chili Society-sanctioned chili cookoff, as well as Caribbean-style chef Jesus Ramos handling the pig roast.
“We’ve got Jeff Pitchell and Texas Flood for music. Johnnie Moore from Fat City Customs is helping organize the event and will also have a couple of bikes on display. We’ve got a bus filled with zombies, ghouls and goblins coming to scare everybody from the Trail of Terror in Wallingford. World-renowned custom bike builder Eddie Trotta is coming up from Florida to MC the show and will have some of his bikes on display,” continued Ryan.
“We’ve got layer upon layer of good stuff. We’ll have all kinds of entertainment so this will be a day filled with all kinds of family fun activities.”Milford’s David Lamoureaux fielded a lot of questions about his radical, one-of-a-kind 2005 Honda VTX 1300R. “It took me five years and two months, on and off, to build the bike. When you put that into a 40-hour workweek, it’s really taken just over three months, and that’s not bad for a build of this size.
“I had to do everything myself because Honda doesn’t make parts to customize this bike. I’ve got an air bag under the seat to lift the whole bike up four inches off of the ground so I can drive it away.
“I had the transmission widened out to accept the 300mm tire on the back because the biggest you can put on a Honda is a 240mm. The eight-gallon gas tank and all of the sheet metal are my own. I finally decided to customize my own bike and Motorcycle Mania is a great place to show the kind of work I can do,” said Lamoureux.
A beaming Larry McHugh of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce said: “We’ve got a fantastic turnout. We were hearing on social media that we could see 5,000 bikes tonight. Last year there were over 4,000. They’re really coming in now at 5:50 pm.
“Motorcycle Mania and our other downtown events throughout the year are an opportunity for the City of Middletown to showcase its many fine restaurants and retail shops in the beautiful downtown district.“This is a party. Middletown is rocking. Look at the amount of people downtown. Our restaurants are slow in the summer so events like this bring in a lot of people. The restaurants are doing really well. It’s a tremendous night for us. We’ll also see a lot of these bikers come back during the fall season. They’ll go out on a ride and then come back to try the different restaurants, and that’s what we want,” noted McHugh.
“Planning for the 2015 Motorcycle Mania started five minutes after the event ended,” Duncan added with a smile. “We’ll be having a wrap-up meeting soon and at the same time, we’ll start planning for next year.”