Pendleton Bike Week and Grand Funk Railroad Rocked the town of Pendleton, Oregon

Written by Diana Olmstead. Photos by BlackJack, Diana Olmstead, Robin Hudson and Dominik Miles

Click here to read the full coverages with images from the event. 

On Wednesday, July 19th, the Quick Throttle crew rolled into Pendleton, Oregon, eager to partake in all of the Pendleton Bike Week activities.

The town itself is beautiful and well maintained and we thoroughly enjoyed the down-home atmosphere. Locals, young and old, took a great deal of pride in talking about their agricultural, ranching and wild west history that dates back to the mid 1800’s.

The Quick Throttle staff’s accommodations were at the Oxford Suites, just 2 minutes up the road from where Pendleton Bike Week was taking place. Perfect! Here’s what stood out as we all arrived to check in to our rooms; the hotel had set up a large table in the center of the lobby in support of Pendleton Bike Week! The table was festively decorated with free swag, tourism brochures, discount coupons, and copies of Quick Throttle Magazine. Not only was this a huge hit with us, every biker staying at the hotel thought it was cool too.

After we unpacked and cleaned up a bit we headed off to the Pendleton Convention Center, which was party central for Pendleton Bike Week. We entered the Convention Center and headed to the registration booth to check in and receive our all-access VIP Pendleton Bike Week Passes. After taking care of business, we stepped out of the air-conditioned building and headed back outside. The hot air quickly reminded us that we needed to stay hydrated.

The parking lot was filling up quickly bikes; we could tell by the plates that riders had traveled from several States to attend Pendleton Bike Week. I saw plates from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana and Arizona as we walked around.

Many of the bikes in parking lot were there to take part in the Sheriff Til Taylor Ride, and all participating riders were given a commemorate ride pin. The ride was in honor of Til Taylor, a legend and a well-respected Umatilla County sheriff who was killed in a jail break back in 1920.

A little after 3pm the Pendleton Police Dept escorted several hundred motorcycles through the streets of Pendleton to the Memorial for Fallen Law Enforcement Officers in Til Taylor Park. The park is incredible, every community would be lucky to have an area like this in their midst. After several speakers addressed the large congregation of riders they all mounted their bikes and respectfully dispersed.

Back at the Pendleton Bike Week event, happy hour was in full swing at the Hardtail Saloon located inside the convention.

Our crew went back to our hotel, relaxed for a while before going to get a bite to eat at a cool restaurant that some locals had recommended to us on a previous visit. The place was called the Prodigal Son, and everyone’s food was delicious!

After dinner, we headed back to the convention center and the Hardtail Saloon and relaxed with a cold beverage while we listened to the Whiskey Sinner Band play for a couple hours.

Thursday –

Some riders opted to check out the .45 Caliber Poker Run which was a self-guided 5 stop run. All riders were given a poker run card that required a stamp from all of the stops.

After the run, riders turned in their stamped cards for a chance to win a new Springfield .45 Cal ACP pistol.

This year a pool tournament had been added to the Pendleton Bike Week roster and sign ups began at 11am inside the PBW pool hall.

Outside, it was sunny and of course, extremely hot; the most popular place to be was sitting under the shaded, outdoor, Easy Rider Bar located in Vendor Village. Misters had been strategically placed all over the roof’s framework and the cool mist floating down on everyone was a godsend.

The Blue Mountain Community College Girls Volleyball Team were staying nice and cool while having a great time scrubbing down dirty bikes.

We hopped on our scoots around 4:45pm and headed into town to check out the VIP Party that was about to start at Hamley’s Steakhouse & Saloon. Hamley’s is Pendleton’s most prominent eatery and it features a 100-year-old authentic mahogany bar complete with stamped tin ceilings. This place is massive and the attention to detail is mind boggling.

A mysterious stairway made of native stone leads down to the large Hamley Wine Cellar.

The VIP Party was held upstairs in another beautiful area known as the Slickfork Saloon. VIP members were treated to a complimentary array of mouthwatering hors d’oeuvres and beverages. A no host bar was also available to those who preferred a glass of fine whiskey or other libations. Round wooden banquet tables dotted the expansive room creating an intimate and hospitable setting.

A few hours later, The Wasteland Kings were playing to a large crowd at the Hardtail Saloon. We stayed for a while but we were wiped out from all of the fun in the sun so we headed back to our hotel and called it a night.

Friday –

We woke up, had breakfast, and headed off to see what was happening at PBW 2017. Wow! It was amazing how many more bikes had rolled into town. Vendor village was slammed with PBW attendees shopping their hearts (and wallets) out!

A massive area was designated to accommodate two huge Harley-Davidson factory trucks that were onsite and chocked full of exquisite 2017 models. All of the motorcycles were available to be test ridden at any time throughout Pendleton Bike Week! Sweet!!!

Rattlesnake Mountain Harley-Davidson had a large vendor area that sat adjacent to the factory demo trucks right near the main gate entrance. On hand were several members of the dealerships Sales Team and a couple of Service Techs that came in quite handy over the course of the week. I was happy to get a chance to visit with Teresa Smith, Marketing Mgr and speak with General Mgr, Paul Griffith.

Inside the Convention Center, Rattlesnake Mountain Harley-Davidson had set up a pop-up retail store. The Quick Throttle crew sure spent some time and money in there! We walked out with several cool items for ourselves and a few gifts for others. My favorite shopping find was the purchase of two heavy duty Harley-Davidson folding camping chairs. Score!

At 1pm a huge crowd gathered in the middle of the vendor area to watch the Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt and Drill Team’s first performance of the day. The team, based out of Seattle, WA., began nearly 80 years ago and is still going strong! These guys range in age from their early 20’s to mid-70’s, they travel all over the U.S. and are a beloved part of the motorcycle community. Their jaw dropping performances are always fun to watch and the teams bikes, all vintage Harley’s from the 1930’s and 40’s are meticulously maintained.

Later that night the Easy Rider Brotherhood band rocked the indoor Hardtail Saloon! The dance floor was brimming with bikers dancing the night away! It’s easy to see why this band has become a favorite at motorcycle events all over the Northwest. Their song list included hits by The Eagles, Bad Company, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, Tom Petty and more.

Saturday –

Many riders woke up very early to beat the heat and to take part in the self-guided Rattlesnake 400. The ride takes part in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Riders must stop at each designated stop and complete the 400-mile loop in 12 hours or less to earn their rattlesnake 400 ride pin. The scenic route can be challenging with many switchbacks, and wildlife.

Back at Pendleton Bike Week, the Wounded Warrior Bike Show was taking place during the afternoon. The show had over 30 categories and showcased a great selection of eye-popping bikes and trikes!

As I made my way back to the air conditioned Hardtail Saloon the tattoo contest was in full swing. There was lots of flesh and ink with amazing designs on display.

Rob Barrett and the Coyote Kings kicked off the evening’s festivities by taking the stage at the Hardtail Saloon which was packed with people in full party mode!   

We ducked out long enough to go grab a bite to eat at Mac’s Bar & Grill which was located just a couple blocks away. We enjoyed a nice dinner and then headed back to our hotel room to freshen up.

Next thing we knew it was time to hop on our bikes and head back to the Pendleton Convention Center to get seated at the Happy Canyon Stadium.

Excitement filled the grandstands in anticipation of this year’s headlining band, Grand Funk Railroad!

As members of the band made their way to the stage a thunderous welcoming roar emanated from the crowd. It was an awesome sight to look across the packed stadium and see nothing but smiles on everyone’s faces! The Grand Funk band members wasted no time before hitting their first of chord! They rocked classic favorites such as “I’m Your Captain”, “We’re An American Band”, “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and many more, non-stop throughout the night.

Once again, Pendleton Bike Week exceeded our expectations, with another awesome band!

It was impossible to sit still. Everyone was dancing and moving to some of the best music ever recorded during the 70’s! Grand Funk Railroads music is still a playlist staple on classic rock stations all over America!

A huge thank you goes out to the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Oregon Chapter 29-1 and to all of the volunteers and incredible 2017 PBW Sponsors who helped make Pendleton Bike Week happen!

We also extend a well-deserved high five to Bike Week founder Eric Folkestad and his event partner Brandon Packman and their families. The amount of work and dedication that they gave, and continue to give, to building this awesome motorcycle event year after year is impressive!

Over all four days their total attendance was 16,577!!! That’s a 22% increase over last year’s total.

If you haven’t checked out this event, you should! Mark your calendars now for next year’s 4th Annual Pendleton Bike Week which will take place July 18th – 22nd, 2018. Be sure to check out their facebook page and pendletonbikeweek.com for event info and details.

About Diana Olmstead