DERRY — Early Saturday Jay Loycano of Derry gathered a group of 100 bikers before their ride to the Broken Spoke Saloon in Laconia.
They were traveling for a memorial ride, meeting up with potentially thousands of other bikers at the popular bar for bikers up north.
However, this wasn’t a joyride on a sunny summer day.
Instead it was a memorial ride for seven bikers who were killed in June while riding in Randolph, New Hampshire. The deadly crash sparked a compassionate movement, biker and Derry resident Brian DeSimone said.
DeSimone was one of the organizers working day and night for about 10 days to pull off planning a ride that typically would take about a year to plan.
Riders from Derry joined up with what state police estimated at 3,000 motorcyclists, waved on by bystanders with American flags, riding through New Hampshire on Saturday to the site where seven bikers were killed in a collision with a truck last month.
Bikers, some from as far away as California and Florida, participated in the 90-mile tribute trip from Laconia to the somber crash site in Randolph, where a memorial of flags and color guard stood. A memorial service was held in a field just beyond the crash site.
“The ride was great,” said DeSimone afterwards. “It was beyond my expectations. I was expecting 1,000 (riders) tops. I wasn’t expecting (nearly) 4,5000 (bikers).”
DeSimone said seeing the fire departments lined up down I-93 was amazing. “People were supporting us along the whole route,” DeSimone said.
The procession of bikers was so long that it took DeSimone 90 minutes to reach the Broken Spoke where he noted that he was in one of the first groups to arrive.
DeSimone noted that Brittnay Mazza, the daughter of victim Al Mazza of Lee, New Hampshire, gave a speech to the crowd in Derry that was “amazing” before the group left.
“Thank you to everyone who came out today, riding along or supporting us on the street,” DeSimone said. “We showed the country that we can come together for something good.”
The Jarheads is a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses. On Saturday, the crowd of bikers said a prayer and sang the Marines’ Hymn before heading out from Laconia, according to organizers.
“This is what happens when good people die,” said Manny Ribeiro, president of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, to which the victims of the crash belonged. He didn’t attend the ride, saying it was “too soon” for him to be at the crash site but said the event and turnout was “just amazing.”
The seven bikers were killed last month when a pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer crashed into the group.
The pickup driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide and remains behind bars.
Those killed were: Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts.
Organizer Steve Allison told WMUR-TV that he was overwhelmed by the turnout Saturday.
“Unlike anything I ever expected, and I am humbled to my absolute core,” said Allison. “I’m actually doing my best to keep from crying, because I never would’ve expected this.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.