The Lake Erie Loop – 650 Miles of Vintage Competition

Lake Erie Loop Racers

Lake Erie Loop

What do you call a 650 mile loop around Lake Erie on vintage bikes with small engines? Well, many would call it crazy, but for a few, it’s called the Lake Erie Loop. The charity race is held once a year to benefit the Aluminum Cans for Burned Children Foundation, which provides services for pediatric burn victims.

The Lake Erie Loop (LEL) comes from rider and Ohio firefighter Bill Murar, who rode over 12,000 miles through the four corners of the US in 2003 to raise money for the ACBC Foundation. The 650 mile endurance run around Lake Erie, through 2 countries, takes place in a single day.

The “race” consists of two groups, bikes under 225cc competing for cash prizes, and unlimited bikes riding the same route for fun and support of both the riders and the charity. Within those groups there are separate classes based on engine size, with vintage bikes (older than 30 years) given an extra allowance of engine size.

Here is the class breakdown:

  • Unlimited 50s – Bikes that started out life at 50cc, along with vintage bikes up to 110cc.
  • 125s – Bikes up to 125cc, and vintage bikes up to 160cc.
  • 200s – 200cc and under bikes, vintage bikes up to 225cc, and any Cushman style scooter w/stock engine.
  • Tourist – non-competion, no size limit, for those riding along for fun.

The race starts in Wellington, in northeast Ohio, and competitors can make the loop around Lake Erie in either direction, but are expected to pass through Detroit, Canada and Buffalo during the route.

Motorcyclist and writer Lance Liver has a really great write-up of what surviving the LEL is like. I’ve heard about the event a few times over the years, but never really thought about entering.

This year, I’m starting to get tempted to take part on my tiny little Yamaha Vino 125 scooter. Not to win any awards, but just to have somehow manage to make it around the lake and back in one piece, and in one day. My dream ride for this would be a Ural sidecar rig.

This year’s LEL is scheduled for June 20th to 22nd, and more information can be had through the Lake Erie Loop Yahoo Group.

My 2nd Year as a Motorcyclist

This week marks the 2nd anniversary of my getting a motorcycle license.

It’s funny how time passes when you look back. Some days, it seems like only yesterday that I was on the learning course at the MSF, practicing this strange new counter-steering deal. Other days, it seems like a lifetime ago that I nervously got onto the highway for the first time, feeling like I was going warp speed at 55mph.

I’ve learned a number of things over those two years …


I have learned that you can never really stop learning when it comes to riding. The best riders I know are not only willing to teach you what they know, but willing to admit they still have plenty of training and learning to do on their own.

Whether it’s re-learning basic skills after getting the bike out of Winter storage, or practicing emergency breaking when a safe opportunity presents itself, there’s always more room to learn and grow.


There’s a wide range of motorcycle riding skills, but an even wider variation in motorcycle mechanical skills. Just about any rider can, and should, learn how to do routine maintenance on their ride. Start with T-CLOCK, then move on to changing your own oil and checking your other fluids routinely. Doing basic maintenance work yourself not only saves you money, it’s a great way to get to know your bike and help watch for mechanical problems before they get serious.

Of course, you don’t have to be a mechanical genius to help your ride. Take the time to look for online sites and web forums dedicated to your class or model of motorcycle. They will make for a great starting point for questions and are often a good resource for finding hard to find parts.


If you haven’t read The Pace by Nick Lenatsch, please do. It’s an excellent article about approaching a ride on your own terms. Many excellent riders I have learned from have explained a similar lesson as “don’t worry about others, just ride your own ride”.

Sometimes it is tempting to push yourself to keep up with hot dog riders you encounter, sometimes it is tempting to ignore the signs of exhaustion to get a few more miles in on a ride, but in nearly all cases, it’s best to ride in a way that is both safe and comfortable.


This is one of the lessons I sometimes still struggle with. Motorcycles and riders come in an amazing number of variations. Riding styles, types of bike, amount of gear, and when and where they like to ride. Like much of human nature, it is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of stereotyping other riders. Cruiser riders as “pirate-costume wearing fair weather riders”. Sportsbike riders as “squidly anti-gear speed demons with a death wish” and adventure bike owners as “latte-sipping rich boys with off-road bikes that never see anything other than highway”.

The truth is that these differences are what make the motorcycle community so lively and interesting. You can learn a lot when you take the time to chat with other riders you come across, especially when they ride a different ride than you. That cruiser rider may have been riding for 40 years and willing to tell you tales of some of the best hidden twisty roads you’d never find otherwise.

That old dirtbike rider can likely give you tips on how to best handle a rain-slicked road causing your rear to step out. That sportbike rider may know everything there is to know about how to keep the fiddly carbs on your bike running at top performance. There’s a story to be heard, and a lesson learned, from every rider at some point.


Two years passes before you know it, but I am hoping it is just a brief start to a much longer riding career. Looking back at all I’ve learned, I look forward to all that I will learn. It is a two-wheeled adventure, and I am going to love every minute of it, including the bits that involve some swearing and possibly a few tears (like syncing carbs).

Let’s ride!

Erie to Ashtabula – 45 minutes in 45 seconds


I wanted to test out the time-lapse photo capturing ability of the Drift HD 720 action cam I picked up cheap. I attached the camera to my motorcycle and captured the 45 minutes of ride time between Erie, Pennsylvania and Ashtabula, Ohio as 2800+ photos. Stitching them all together as frames in a video allowed me to show the 45 minute ride in 45 seconds.

My Hi-Viz Safety Duck

I have a mascot for my motorcycle.

Hi-Viz Safety Duck

I call him my “Hi-Viz Safety Duck” because drivers and passengers of cars coming up besides me on the highway all seem to notice and stare at him.

When it looked like my trip to Canada would be non-stop rain, he was bought for a dollar from the local Wal-Mart and added to my motorcycle top case with some cheap double-sided poster tape as a joke about the weather.

Hi-Viz Safety Duck

Somehow he’s managed to stay attached to my top case after 2,000 miles of bad weather, through highway speeds and twisty back country roads. He’s a well-traveled motorcycle mascot.

Top 4 Things I Love About Fall Motorcycle Riding

As the temperature rose to above 50°F today, I took the opportunity for a nice Fall ride through the northeast Ohio countryside. The ride brought up 5 things I love about Fall rides:

  1. The temperatures makes suiting up in protective gear not only safer, but more comfortable. I enjoy the process of donning my armored jacket and overpants, buckling up the boots and closing up my full face helmet. As I toss a leg over the bike and watch the instrument panel light up and fuel pump prime, it’s the closest thing I’ll get to being a fighter pilot.
  2. When you meet up with another motorcyclist at an intersection, gas station, or parking lot, there’s usually some quick conversation about how thankful you both are to get another ride in while the weather is nice, as well as the commiseration of dread for the coming winter downtime.
  3. The Fall weather seems to make the entire experience “crisper”. The stark, leafless trees contrasting against the asphalt of the winding road. The cool wind washing over you that brings your senses to full attention. The quiet that seems to dominate the woods sliced by your motor revving through gears.
  4. Finally, even when the day’s ride is done, there’s the feeling of having gone out and accomplished something, even if it was just to celebrate one last ride before the snows come. Passing by cars on the way to your home, there’s always the evil thought that you might be passing some rider who decided not to take advantage of the day, with the pleasant sensation that comes with knowing you did.