Heading into its fourth year, Pendleton Bike Week is trying out some new moves. Instead of the annual Til Taylor ride, the five-day event in July will kick off with the “Ride with the Raiders” in commemoration of the 1942 Doolittle Raid, which featured pilots who trained in Pendleton.
Pendleton Bike Week organizer Eric Folkestad said the idea came about when he and Steve Chrisman, the Pendleton airport manager and economic development director, were looking for ways to honor the World War II operation, which provided a boost in morale following Pearl Harbor. The resulting concept will incorporate the airport where the raid’s pilots were trained in advance of the mission.
Folkestad said riders will gather at the Pendleton Convention Center on July 17 before driving up to the airfield.
At 3:20 p.m. — the approximate time the pilots started their mission, according to Folkestad — the bikers will ride down the runway, simulating the soldiers’ take-off.
Folkestad said they’ve been getting positive reception to the idea and volunteers are in contact with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and veteran motorcyclist groups to incorporate veterans into the ride.
Although previous years featured an organized ride from the convention center to Til Taylor Park in honor of former Umatilla County Sheriff Til Taylor and other police officers who have died in the line of duty, Folkestad said Ride with the Raiders will take its place. He added that bike week may still hold an event at the park, but it won’t be a coordinated ride.
Pendleton Bike Week is also making some other changes to its event schedule.
The Rattlesnake 400 — a 400-mile, self-guided ride through Eastern Oregon and Washington — will include a competitive aspect this year.
Folkestad said the event isn’t a race, but a lucky rider who completes the route closest to a secret time limit will receive VIP access to bike week for life.
On the entertainment front, bike week has added the Marshall Tucker Band, a southern rock band popular in the 1970s, to bolster the John Fogerty tribute act it already signed.
With bike week three months away, Folkestad said volunteers will convene a local advisory board to begin planning the event this week.