Bikers show big heart with ride for fallen officers

Monday, June 21, 2010 @ 01:06 AM Author:

LAPD officers Lyle Michelson and Kim Snyder are organizing the 2nd Annual West Valley Memorial Ride Saturday September 12, 2009. The 56-mile motorcycle ride will help raise funds for fallen officers. They expect 400 riders for the event.(Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)


No one has called them Heaven’s Angels, but they could.

They are the hundreds of motorcycle riders who, recalling the motorcycle culture allure of James Dean and Marlon Brando, will ride Saturday from the West San Fernando Valley to Paramount Studios in Hollywood.


But unlike the legendary bad-boy Hell’s Angels, these bikers are good guys – part of the second annual West Valley Memorial Motorcycle Ride raising money for fallen Los Angeles police officers and their families.


“This is what bikers do — they have big hearts,” says Russ Brown, a Studio City attorney who has earned a national reputation as a motorcycle injury lawyer and a supporter of the event. “Bikers defy the stereotype.”


During last year’s inaugural event, 338 bikers raised more than $12,000 for a monument honoring fallen officers in front of the LAPD’s West Valley Station in Reseda.


This year, organizers expect some 400 motorcyclists and a total of 700 participants to make the 56-mile trek over the hills to Malibu, down Pacific Coast Highway and eastward on the 10 Freeway, eventually arriving at the Paramount Studios lot.


The ride will benefit the Randal D. Simmons Outreach Foundation and the Los Angeles Police Department Memorial Foundation.


A veteran officer of the Special Weapons and Tactics team and the father of two, Simmons was killed in Winnetka on Feb.7, 2008, by a mentally troubled man who had called 911 to report that he had killed three members of his family and challenged LAPD to “come and get me.”


Simmons was the first SWAT team member to die in action since the unit’s inception in 1971.


The LAPD Memorial Foundation provides grants for the widows and orphans of officers killed in the line of duty.


“It definitely takes a special breed to ride a motorcycle,” says Rickey Gelb, president of the West Valley Boosters, a support organization at the West Valley Station that will assist with Saturday’s event.


Officer Lyle Michelson, who with his partner Kimberly Snyder are chairs of this year’s ride, said the event grew out of an “idea to build a Memorial Monument to honor our officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.”


The Memorial Monument in front of the West Valley station was unveiled Feb. 6.


“Being involved in this memorial ride means a great deal to me – it means to me that I can actually give back to the community other than law enforcement,” said Michelson.


“Seeing 400 motorcyclists lining up in front of the police station and start their engine simultaneously is an awesome sight.”


Michelson said the public is invited to ceremonies at the West Valley station that begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and include a bagpipe presentation and several speakers, including Simmons’ widow, Lisa.


The motorcycle ride is scheduled to leave the station at 11a.m., escorted by the California Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s Department and the LAPD. It is scheduled to arrive at Paramount Studios about two hours later.


Michelson said the ride is the “largest law enforcement ride in Southern California that is fully escorted.”


The memorial ride will also be reminiscent of Simmons’ funeral procession last year when the dozens of motorcycle officers working the route marked their helmets with the radio designation of the slain hero’s SWAT unit: 41-D.


The only sounds then, as the hearse carrying Simmons’ casket made its way through massive crowds paying their respect, were the distant whir of police motorcycles.


Michelson said that when he founded the tribute a year ago, his idea was to come up with something as memorable.


“I wanted a memorial ride that everyone would remember,” Michelson said, “and from the overwhelming response, they did.”


If you go


  • The West Valley Memorial Motorcycle Ride starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at the LAPD’s West Valley Station, 19020 Vanowen St., Reseda. Riders will head south on Tampa Avenue to the 101 Freeway and over Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road to Pacific Coast Highway. From the southbound PCH, they will ride on the 10, 405 and 101 freeways, exiting at Gower Street. The ride will end at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. For more information, see

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