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Hog Wild

Thousands of Harley riders whoop it up in Lake County while promoting safe roads.

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On the first Sunday of every May, Louie Run chairman Michael Warren stands in front of a crowd of 9,000 bikers, takes a sharp Buck knife, and slices his left thumb. He then holds up his hand and squeezes it until blood oozes from the gash. "May this be the only drop of blood shed on Ohio's roads this year," declares Warren at the start of the run.The dramatic kick-start of Ohio's largest motorcycle rally helps mark the run's silver anniversary today. And organizers won't be surprised if the bikers — who'll rev up their hogs in the parking lots of 14 bike shops in Lake, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, and Lorain counties — number at least 10,000. Later, they'll meet at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Painesville for beer-chugging, jams by Confederate Railroad and the Burnt River Band, and motorcycle stunts by Rhett Rotten's Wall of Death.The rally dates to 1983, when 50 bikers rode in a funeral procession for Louis Ivcovic, who ran the Harley-friendly Peppermint Stick Lounge in Lake County. Today, the tribute drums up $250,000 for a number of nonprofit groups while promoting on-the-road safety. "It definitely serves as a wake-up call that the motorcycle season is in full gear," says Warren. "We want drivers to pay more attention and hope we help save lives." Start your engines at 10:30 this morning, and ride to the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1301 Mentor Avenue in Painesville. Tickets are $10. For details, visit www.louierun.org.
Sun., May 4, 10:30 a.m., 2008

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