Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts have catapulted Pendleton Bike Week into the fastest growing motorcycle rally in the Pacific Northwest, said Al “Capone” Rafferty, an event volunteer.
One of the biggest reasons echoed by participants is the brotherhood between bikers, said Kraig Markusen. The Willamina man rode his motorcycle nearly 300 miles to man a booth in the event’s vendor village — located outside the Pendleton Convention Center — to help support the National Motorcycle Riders Memorial Association.
“It’s something I believe in,” Markusen said. “To us, it’s sacred ground.”
There are big plans for the memorial, Markusen said, which is located in rural Wheeler County. The idea sprouted from a small memorial created by Steve Humphrey, who hosted an annual birthday party on his property. It memorialized a longtime attendee of the event.
The concept grew, Markusen said, and a site was dedicated in 2014. The stretch of pavement runs through Shelton Wayside on the John Day Highway as a memorial for fallen riders from all across the country.
Future plans, Markusen said, include a visitor’s center featuring computerized indexing of those remembered. Visitors will be able to access a computer database that features photographs of the fallen riders and information about who they were. There is no charge, Markusen said, to have a brick placed in memory of a fallen rider. The association seeks donations from riders, riding groups, businesses and others to provide funds needed to honor individual riders.
A group of Blue Mountain Community College volleyball players took advantage of the crowds and offered a bike wash throughout the week. Clad in black event tank tops, members of the team soaped up and rinsed off motorcycles five hours a day Wednesday through Friday and eight hours on Saturday.
With no set price for their services, Nicole Warren, a BMCC freshman who graduated from Clackamas High School, said donations will go toward team travel expenses. In addition to raising money, Warren and fellow BMCC freshman Emily Beebe, a graduate of Oregon City High School, said the event has provided an opportunity for further bonding.
“Being together as a team has been really fun,” Beebe said.
In addition, they’ve enjoyed meeting bikers who traveled to the event from across the region and beyond. And, for the most part, Warren said the bikers are happy to have their rides shined up.
“Some of them want a certain soap, but they’ve been great,” she said.
Straddling his 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage, Richard Brittain was all smiles during the event. Although there’s plenty of room on the Umatilla man’s bike for his wife Kathy, she prefers to hop into her F-150 pickup for the journey.
“I follow them,” she said. “Those guys like to take day trips and sometimes they like doing poker runs and the Echo Toy Run. They ride and I just follow along.”
Pendleton Bike Week, Richard Brittain said, is always a must attend.
“I like all the vendors, but mostly the brotherhood,” he said.
Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4539