Saturday, June 25, 2011

Athena, Oregon: motorcycle city

Hodaka Days 2011
For most of the year, Athena, Oregon, is a quiet little hamlet in the eastern half of the state, just off Highway 11 which runs between Walla Walla, Washington, and Pendleton, Oregon. But one weekend a year, it turns into motorcycle city when it celebrates Hodaka Days the last weekend in June.

Hodaka was a motorcycle manufactured in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s. Hodaka was developed for Pacific Basin Trading Company, an agricultural supplier in Athena that wanted a sturdy motorcycle for local farmers to use. Soon it was being used by dirt bikers and flat-track racers and being sold all over the United States from Athena. It was the little motorcycle that could -- and did, with quirky names like Super Rat, Dirt Squirt, Road Toad and Combat Wombat.

Hodakas weren't manufactured after 1977, but the motorcycle has been raised to a cult level by its fans who pay homage to it every year. Fans come from all over the United States, with at least one or two people riding their Hodakas cross country for the event. Riders ooh and aah over the bikes on display at the city park and swap stories about the glory days. Suppliers come from all over to sell parts and talk shop.

Other weekend events include the Bad Rock cross-country ride, a mini-trials competition, and a parade down the town's Main Street with riders wearing white shirts and ties.

It's just a cool way to spend a weekend.

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