Meet Lance Blais. The Massachusetts native does not do subtle. When I first spotted an image of Blais, bedecked in what appear to be USA-themed pajamas and sitting astride a heavily customized Harley-Davidson Ultra trike, I’ll admit my initial response was something on the snarky side. But then I heard his story. Turns out he’s awesome.
Blais has been attending New Hampshire’s Laconia Motorcycle Week since 1952, first arriving via sidecar with his moto-crazy parents. The story of how Blais’ family got into bikes is something we can relate to here at TMO. It all started when his father made a particularly bold move.
“My father came home one day and he said to my mom: ‘I just traded the car for a motorcycle.’ My mom went nuts,” Blais says. “But when he got that bike built, my mom said: ‘Now it’s my turn. I gotta get a bike.'”
Blais is one of nine brothers and sisters, all of whom would pile into sidecars on family trips to the iconic motorcycle gathering, which this year celebrates its 95th running.
‘We wanted to be the first ones here and we wanted to be the last ones to leave.’
One of the United States’ largest moto gatherings, Laconia Motorcycle Week is generally seen as being on par with events like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Daytona Bike Week. I remain fascinated by these sorts of events, which seem to be far more a part of American motorcycling culture than elsewhere. The only European event I can think of that comes close – in terms of scale – is European Bike Week, held at Faak-am-See, Austria.
For Blais’ family, Laconia was, and still is, an all-important event.
“We used to spend, at least, three weeks to a month here,” Blais explained. “Because we wanted to be the first ones here and we wanted to be the last ones to leave.”
Now 69 years old, Blais has passed the tradition of riding on to his children and grandchildren, and is eager to influence generations even further.
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“Now I’ve got a great-grandchild. We’re waitin’ for her to get big enough to get on a bike,” he said. “Laconia Bike Week will stay with us forever.”
One can only hope that Blais’ eccentric style will also always be a part of the event. The world needs obsessive riders like him and his family. God bless the crazies.