John Hansen left his home in The Dalles and covered about 1,500 miles on his Harley-Davidson touring bike before landing Wednesday in Pendleton.
“I was on the road for 10, 11 days,” he said.
Hansen, 65, said he took off for Glacier National Park, Montana, and with the Canadian line so close by he decided to cruise along that county’s Highway 3, visiting small towns. Dipping back into the United States a few days ago, he said, he actually gave a cheer.
His Harley was one of hundreds at the Pendleton Convention Center for Pendleton Bike Week 2017, but a few Indian Motorcycles and foreign bikes dotted the wide parking lot. Convention Center manager Pat Beard said the riders run an array from bricklayers to doctors, and the thing that have in common is the love of a certain lifestyle.
And perhaps some disposable income.
Originally from Prineville, Hansen said he is retired from the U.S. Forest Service, where he worked as a business manager. He said he rode all kinds of motorcycles in his youth, but 20 years ago he and his wife moved to Hawaii and he sold the machines.
After 13 years in The Aloha State, he said, his wife Debbie missed having four seasons and found a job in The Dalles. To entice him to come, she promised him a new Harley.
“Holy crap!” he told her. “I’m on the plane, dear.”
While they have been in The Dalles a while now, he said last year’s Bike Week brought him to Pendleton for the first time. The couple had such a blast they came back. Learning about new places, he said, is one on of the reasons he rides. Even taking a road that goes nowhere, he said, is part of the journey.
“If your wife isn’t with you, you’re not lost,” he quipped.
Bike Week founder Eric Folkestad said that’s the attitude these folks bring. Many come from Portland and Seattle, and they want new experiences, and Pendleton delivers that.
Around 16,000 registered for Bike Week last year, and Folkestad said this year is up about 25 percent. He said that’s a healthy amount of growth.
One of the big attractions could be Harley-Davidson. The event’s primary sponsor has a big presence, with dozens of motorcycles available for full-on test drives. And Folkestad said plenty of riders are coming to take on The Rattlesnake 400, a 400-mile loop through the Blue Mountains, north to Clarkston, Washington, east all the way to Rattlesnake Mountain Harley-Davidson in Kennewick, then back to Pendleton, but with a stop first in Helix to Holton Secret Lab. Riders who prove they completed the endurance ride in 12 hours earn a pin.
Folkestad said bikers are coming from Texas and Tennessee for that pin.
Hansen said he takes about two big trips a year on the Harley Street Glide, and he already put in a bit of an endurance ride, so maybe next year he will take on the Rattlesnake. And for now, he said, he had to get ready for his wife’s arrival and make sure the beer was cold.
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