The Lake Erie Loop

It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.

“The event is intended to be a challenge” Bill Murar replied to someone in response to a question, then he went on to further explain, that he has on many occasions been asked why he doesn’t raise the funds thought a 50 mile leisure ride. The primary aim of the event is to raise money for children who have been burnt. This would potentially raise more money, (particularly as Ohio bike week is scheduled around the same time) but that is not the sole purpose of the event.

There is no official route or guides provided as to whether you should go clockwise, counter clockwise, use toll roads, which customs point to use at Detroit, etc. All that is asked is that every rider leave and go through Detroit, across Canada into Buffalo, then come back to the camping ground. Though some people may ride together the intent is that you leave and then ride on your own to complete the loop.

There is a few checkpoints along the way, the location of these checkpoints were revealed the night before in the rider briefing for receipts which need to be included in your envelope on completion to help ensure fair play among the riders.. The event intentionally prescribes motorcycles and scooters that are not capable of much higher than speed limits in any of the states it rides though. The use of Vintage machines may also add some challenges the riders will need to solve to get back to the finish line.

The start and finish for the event is the Claire Mar camping grounds in the scenic part of Ohio. The park has a couple of lakes within the grounds and even an airstrip, and also some aviation an hot air balloon events. The park supports the Lake Erie Loop by offering a discounted rate for the participants for the two nights camping in “The Circle” where the event is administered from. The park management could not do more to assist this year they even time stamped the cards of the riders as they arrived to record their official completion time.
Lake Erie Loop - Clare-Mar Lakes Campground
The event has five classes – four for “race” competitors and a tourist class for those who just want to contribute to the fundraising by participating. (times are not kept for entrants in tourist class)

The bikes are divided into:

  1. Unlimited 50’s – if it started life as a 50cc it’s eligible and vintage bikes up to 110cc.
  2. 125’s – up to 125cc and vintage bikes up to 160cc. (Vintage means bikes that are 30 years old and older, or “like” models.)
  3. 200’s – up to 200cc, any Cushman-style scooter with a stock based motor (no Cushman hybrids) and vintage bikes up to 225cc.
  4. 250’s – Up to 250cc scooter, and vintage bikes with one carburetor – must be street bike models only, and American spec bikes.
  5. Tourist class – any size, any bike.

One of the most necessary, but painful experiences for any burns patient treatment is burn debridement. As new skin and nerves return, it is necessary to remove the dead and damaged skin by basically scrubbing using very clean brushes.

Though no where near as painful, the challenge gives a taste of being uncomfortable and the class you compete in also, in some ways, dictates how long you endure that discomfort. You can minimize that discomfort through use of seat pads, wind screens, sun screen, layered clothing, a good helmet, bottled water, snacks, GPS , etc.

The night before the event participants were sharing stories of past years, including the video of one relieved guy on a 50cc Yamaha Vino arriving 28 hours after the start. They also touched on some of the rules that are added, as some previous riders have revealed the need for them. The “must cross the line under it’s own power” rule was pretty self explanatory, but the rule around the class motor you finish with is the bike class you will be assessed in, was not as obvious. This rule came to be after one competitor blew his 100cc engine and changed it to a 125cc that was available in his chase vehicle.

It was a good and interesting night before getting some rest for what the following day would bring.

This year two participants threw their chains enroute. Team Canada was able to scrounge a chain from some locals, then found it was too short and somehow managed to scrounge a second that allowed him to finish – arriving just before 11:00 PM Saturday night. The other rider was not as fortunate with sorting out his lost chain. He had a choice of asking to be picked up with his own truck/trailer or being towed. As the others he travelled to the event with were also participants in the event, rather than ask them to travel the 300 miles to pick him up he arranged to be towed back to the finish.

Another rider had been unable to find a replacement 6 volt rectifier for his bike, so started not knowing how far he would get; but ended up retiring from the race when his clutch started slipping, turning around to be on the safe side and save the need for being rescued.

All other starters were able to complete the event under their own power. The first rider over the line and eventual overall winner had driven from Phoenix Arizona to take part in the event and completed it in 10 hours 30 minutes on a Honda CBR 125cc. The winner of Class 1 was on a bike that started life as a Yamaha Twin Jet 100 and it has gone through some changes of tank, wheels and other components to make it what it is today. It was also the only two-stroke motorcycle this year and finished in 13 hours 20 minutes. Maybe 2016 will find a new challenger to take the Class 1 trophy?

Obviously of most interest to myself was the scooters. A Suzuki Burgman 200cc took out the Class 3 win in 10 hours 51 minutes. My own time on a Vespa GTV was 13 hours and 55 minutes. A Honda PCX 150cc came fourth in class 3 (Class 3 also had the largest amount of entrants)

Physically I felt fine at the end of the event and following days as the Vespa proved to be more than comfortable and up to the challenge. No need for highway pegs, etc – as I was able to move my feet and weight around enough to stay relatively comfortable.

I hope Bill, Joyce, Gail, Rusty, Paul and all the other volunteers continue to host the LakeErie Loop each year to give the burned kids all the assistance they can while challenging riders of vintage motorcycles and scooters to feel some discomfort and think about what life of a burns victim is like.

Some of the children have no way of explaining – but are united at Camp Phoenix the camps for burned kids, where no one asks why, where or how they were injured, just kids being kids having some respite from attention the burns they live with and in some cases be restricted or disabled by for the rest of their lives.

More information on Camp Phoenix can be found here.

If you would like to donate, go here.

If you want to participate in the ride, head over to

Results from the 2015 LakeErieLoop, held June 5th-7th 2015:
Class I
1st place Bruce Gordon Yamaha Twin Jet 100cc 13:20
Class II
1st place Vern Ebert Honda CB125 DNF
Class III
1st place Tim Gron Suzuki Burgman 200 10:51
2nd place Deb Canter Honda Twinstar 200 11:46
3rd place Terrie Leighliter Honda Twinstar 200 11:46
Class IV
1st place Ray Meyers Honda Rebel 10:38
2nd place Bill Van Kesteren Vespa GTV250 13:55
3rd place Stan Scott Suzuki Burgman

Grand Champion, first overall,
Brian Schrader Honda CBR125 10:31

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