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Posts Tagged ‘Pendleton Roundup’

Does it matter?  You bet!

Pendleton, Oregon and the “wild west” stands for — freedom, independence, self-expression and the rebel spirit.

That could be a marketing campaign for Harley-Davidson and likely why the motor company will grace Oregon’s Pendleton Bike Week (July 19 – 23rd).

This is major news, especially in biker circles.  It’s a lot of work and a big deal in the consumer goods and services sector to obtain a title sponsor on any type of event, let alone when the backbone of American culture, the flagship of American brands elects to throw its considerable weight behind an event and partner with an up-and-coming independent motorcycle rally in the Northwest.

Big shout out and congrats to Eric Folkestad and the Pendleton team for securing the sponsorship!

You may recall that the Pendleton Bike Week (PBW) is not a local or national sponsored HOG event so, this is really the first-of-its-kind partnership with Harley-Davidson and will help legitimize this event for motorcycle enthusiasts.  What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the Pacific Northwest HOG Rally (July 20 – 23rd) held in Meridian/Boise, ID will occur on the same set of dates as PBW.  Pendleton and Meridian, ID are about 3 hours apart on I-84 and I would anticipate some riders are working on a plan to attend both.

PBW is in it’s third year and it’s estimated there will be upwards of 20,000 bikers over the four days visiting the area this year.  I attended the first event in 2015 (read about HERE) where there was about 6,000 attendees and last year’s attendance spiked to about 16,000 across the four days.

Harley-Davidson will have factory reps on hand to chat with and two factory demo trucks onsite so riders can experience the performance of the company’s new line of motorcycles, including the new Milwaukee-Eight engine.  Pendleton is at the base of the scenic Blue Mountains, which has become well-known as a hub for motorcycle touring eastern Oregon.

The city of Pendleton is an appealing venue and the rally is a nice ‘back to the basics’ ride in the “wild west.”  See you there.

Photo courtesy of PBW

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This past weekend I rode the OR HOG (Sage-Snow-Surf) Motorcycle Rally.  More than 300 motorcycles arrived in Pendleton, OR.  We started our day from Vancouver, WA and headed East on State Route 14, also called the Lewis and Clark Highway.    It winds its way through the Columbia River Gorge along the river then up over steep bluffs, forest and finally makes it way into grasslands.  It’s about 180 miles and two-lane road after you depart Camus, WA.  You end up at the junction of I-82/395 just across the state line from Umatilla, OR and about 40 miles from Pendleton.

We were most fortunate as the wind was behind us with blue sky and mid-80 temperatures.  We rode past the Stonehenge, the Maryhill winery and near Goldendale we got a great view of the aluminum smelter.  I made a mental note to do a bit of research on this plant as I recalled it belching smells in full production a few years ago, but on this day it looked abandon.  It turns out that Brett Wilcox purchased the plant in 1996 for $67M.  It needed to be temporarily close (as the workers were told) in 2003, however, the owner of the plant sold off the power it purchased from producing aluminum on the open market at a hefty profit that went directly into the pockets of executive management.  Everyone was laid off and retirement funds disappeared. (Source: HERE)

Finally we arrived at the Red Lion in Pendleton and picked up our HOG packet, signed the release forms and then headed downtown.  Pendleton is located in Umatilla County and is situated along I-84.  For reference it’s south of the tri-cities (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick) area of Washington.  Beside being labeled by the National Drug Intelligence Center (PDF) as a major distribution stop for many drug traffickers en route to the tri-cities from the Southwest Border it’s also home of the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT) and home of the famous Pendleton Roundup.  

Pendleton got its start as Goodwin Station in 1865 as a stop on the Oregon Trail.  The town’s name was changed to Pendleton in honor of Ohio senator, George Hunt Pendleton.  The Rainbow is Pendleton’s oldest continuously open and operated bar and restaurant and the oldest doing business at the same location.  Many know that that the Chinese came to the area to work the gold mines and many were employed by the railroad.  As the area grew, they soon became an integral and somewhat hidden, part of the local economy.  The Chinese operated laundries and underground opium dens and were relegated to Pendleton’s seedier side. But I digress.  Back to the OR HOG Rally…

We parked the bikes on main street near Hamley’s Steak House for a little grub and some refreshments.  I introduced myself to Larry (HD head tattoo above), met JT (regional HOG director) and took in some county music in the courtyard.  We headed to the restaurant and order up some fresh Salmon (yeah, go figure!) in this truly amazing steakhouse.  Most notable besides the Western stylized décor are the nude photo’s of famous Western outlaw wives!  We received a Pendleton hat for drinking some and Linda/Lynette of the Kiwanis introduced us to the “save-the-date” for the 2009 Bikers in the Blues motorcycle rally.

Up early Friday and headed South on US 395.  I like to think of this route as Oregon’s “mother road”.  US 395 is a 1400-mile stretch which runs from the Canadian border in Washington state to San Diego, CA.  We rode out through Pilot Rock then in the middle of one of the small gorges there is a junction to OR74 which enters Morrow county and then Heppner Hwy.  Heppner has upgraded from years ago when I passed through on Eastern OR hunting trips.  With the Willow Creek dam you’d think it was a major water recreational resort.

We separated from the “official” OR HOG Rally route which veered off to Condon then on to Welches, OR for an overnight in the “snow”.  Instead we headed directly to the “surf” part of the trip, arriving in Seaside in time for a well deserved happy hour and to meet some friends who rode directly to the coast.

On Saturday we were treated to a one-in-a-million type day on the OR coast.  Mid-70’s, blue sky and NO wind.  Did I say there was NO wind.  Incredible!  It was a rare t-shirt riding day and Santiago invited everyone over to his Manzanita “Villa” for breakfast…there we were…perched high on the sand dune above the valley in the hills we were treated like royalty at the Hotel Piccolo Mondo in Acquappesa, on the Calabrian coast in Italy.  Very Tuscany!

For now I’ll reserve another post/rant about the “Goin’ Coastal” aka the Seaside Biker Fest.  Suffice to say it was most lame.  Sure there was a tattoo artist, bike builder and a couple t-shirt vendors…but, I’ve seen more activity at Taco Wednesday’s than in Seaside.   We manage to have a lot of fun even without vendor booths to spend our money.

Here is what I’ve learned on the OR HOG Rally.

  1. It’s HOT in Pendleton and cold in Seaside.
  2. The smell of wheat fields and ocean air isn’t something you get in a car
  3. Harley riders cannot be stereotyped.  There is the rich and famous to trailer trash and all in-between!
  4. Harley riders are some of the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet.

The event was well planned out and Cindy (HOG Director) Wayne Schumacher and the HOG Rally Committee deserves a shout-out.  The rides were long, scenic and PERFECT weather.  There’s no pleasing everyone and I say get out and ride, whether your doing a poker run, rally or just on your own this is the time of year to get into the Northwest riding zone.

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