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A Gathering of Horses

Written & Photographed By Diana Olmstead

On the first weekend in May several hundred chrome horses gathered at the Red Horse Diner to take part in the 4th Annual Iron Horse Trail Bike Show in Ellensburg, Washington.

Saturday morning bikes began to fill the parking lot at the Red Horse Diner. The diner is a unique, nostalgic, 50’s style diner set in a meticulously restored 1930’s Mobil gas station. Inside, you’ll find the walls are adorned with automotive, motorcycle and Coca-Cola memorabilia from years past.

The Red Horse Diner is not only biker owned; it is a family owned & operated business. Bruce & Lori Crossett are the owners and Bruce rides a yellow ‘05 Road Glide. His daughters Nicole and Breanna are the managers. Nicole rides an eye popping orange ‘12 H-D Street Glide.

It was a sunny Saturday morning but the wind was whippin’ and there was a chill in the air. Many of the bikers immediately made their way inside the diner to warm up with a hot cup of coffee and nice, big breakfast. After filling their bellies and warming up they walked over to the registration booth to sign up for the noon poker run. The run cost was $10 per hand and many riders opted to purchase multiple hands hoping it would increase their chances of winning.

At noon, kickstands were up and riders were on their way in varying groups of friends and acquaintances. We rode through Ellensburg, past the CWU campus and followed the Vantage Highway towards Kittitas where we stopped at Curley’s Tavern. Leaving Kittitas, we took the Kittitas Hwy along farm-lined side roads until we met the Thorp Highway, west of Ellensburg and I-90, and followed it to Taneum Rd in Thorp, then to Thorp Prairie Rd, over Indian John Hill and into South Cle Elum, turning north on 903, passing through quaint Roslyn, to the small town of Ronald where we swarmed upon The Old No 3, a kick butt bar & grill tucked into the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains for a much needed break from the wind. After getting a bite to eat and something to drink, we made a short hop down the hill to downtown Cle Elum, visiting Mike’s Tavern where we played our fourth card. Jumping back in the saddles, we enjoyed the last leg of the ride back to the Red Horse Diner by way of Highway 10, following the beautiful Yakima River. Directly across the river from Hwy 10 is the old Iron Horse Trail, the namesake for the event.

After a long day of riding in the relentless wind it was good to pull into the Red Horse Diner to kick back in their spacious, grassy, well-manicured beer garden behind the diner. A rockin’ band and a toasty bonfire created a cool laid back biker vibe to cap of the day. Some of the rider’s camped onsite pitching their tents in the outer perimeter of the beer garden, some riders opted to camp at the nearby KOA and some stayed at nearby hotels.

We awoke Sunday morning to beautiful blue skies, warm temps and absolutely no wind! It was a perfect morning to take a leisurely putt through charming downtown Ellensburg on our way back to check out day two of the festivities.

Sunday afternoon was all about the Kittitas County ABATE Chapter’s Iron Horse Trail Bike Show. Every inch of pavement was filled to the brim with motorcycles; approximately 25-30 bikes participated in the bike show and the rest of the bikes belonged to spectators stopping by to check out the show. This bike show was different than most that I’ve attended as the bikes were not grouped into categories but scattered throughout the front parking lot. As one bike show organizer stated, “You have to use your brain and do your homework” to find all of the bikes to competently judge each bike category. Bike show contestants were also able to enter their bike into multiple categories adding another twist to the people’s choice judging. As I walked around checking out the bikes, there were many eye catching bikes and trikes not only in the bike show but also in the spectator parking area.

In the beer garden riders mingled, drank a cold one… or two, listened to live music and checked out the dozen or so vendor booths.

Around 3 o’clock the Seattle Cossacks, riding vintage Harley’s from the 30’s and 40’s, delighted the all age’s crowd that had gathered to witness their skillful stunts.

Shortly after the Cossack’s performance, ballots were counted and Bike Show awards were presented to the winners of the following categories: 500cc & under, British, Classic (1982 & older), Custom, European, Japanese, Sidecar/Trike, Sport Bike, Stock and Best of Show.

All in all it was a great weekend in Eastern Washington! I had left the rain behind on the western side of the mountains to enjoy the sunny skies of Ellensburg. I rode on some fantastic scenic roads, met some really cool bikers, made some new friends and ran into lots of old friends from both sides of the mountains!

I’m looking forward to my next road trip to Ellensburg in mid-August to attend the Red Horse Rally! If you haven’t checked out Ellensburg or the Red Horse Diner this would be a great time to do so!

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