Lake Erie Loop motorcycle tour
Lapping the Shores of Lake Erie
Photos By Richard Bearman
For some people, the phrase “Lake Erie Loop” elicits memories of the dramatic August 2003 power shortage that was blamed on a complicated electrical power grid in the general vicinity of Lake Erie.
But for Bill Murar and his wife, Joyce — and a small but growing number of motorcycle enthusiasts — the Lake Erie Loop is something else entirely. For them, The Loop is an annual 650-mile race around the circumference of Lake Erie.
More rally than race, it’s still as much of a race as you can have on public roads with machines sporting sub-225cc engines. And the competing bikes’ relative lack of power is the only thing this Loop has in common with its power shortage namesake, helping to keep things sane as “Loopers” ride from the Clare-Mar Lakes Campground in New London, Ohio, through Michigan, across the border into Canada, back into New York, Pennsylvania and hopefully back to Clare-Mar Lakes the same day. There, they’ll sit around the campfire for a grand bench racing session following a spectacular adventure.
The idea for the Lake Erie Loop came from founder Bill Murar’s 2003 “Four Corners” fund-raising adventure.
A career firefighter and paramedic, Bill has a passion for helping pediatric burn victims. Some years back, he combined that with his passion for diminutive, vintage motorcycles and organized a ride that would be completed, in theory, aboard his 106SS Sears Allstate to raise money for pediatric burn victims. His wife, Joyce, a registered nurse, agreed to follow along driving the support vehicle.
Bill’s ride was truly epic in its scope, as he battled one mechanical failure after another during the ride and suffered the loss of his father, Bill Sr. And yet, 12,000 miles and three motorcycles later, the couple finished what they started.
Appreciating that there must be an easier way to combine raising money for burn victims and small, two-wheeled motorized transit, in 2004 Bill organized the inaugural Lake Erie Loop, proving in the process that misery does indeed love company as nine riders joined in for the run.
Loopers come in four varieties; three competition classes and a tourist class. Class I Loopers are the vintage 110cc and under crowd. Modern-era engines are also allowed in Class I, though they are limited to 50cc and must retain their stock bottom end. Class II are vintage up to 125cc. Class III, referred to jokingly as the “Big Bore” class, can be no more than 225cc for vintage bikes and 200cc for modern machines.
Participants in these three classes pay a $50 entry fee for a shot at fame, fortune and coveted trophies. In theory, there is a pay out for the first three places based on the number of entries, but everyone donates that back to the cause. Riders also collect donations leading up to the event for the Murar/Neelsen Pediatric Burn Fund.
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