BIRKENFELD, ORE., July 27-29—There is a first time for everything. My first time for Run 21 just happened to fall on lucky number 13. Having heard stories of the event for more than four years, I wanted to find out if Run 21 was truly one of the last authentic biker rallies. The time was right to load up the bike and to find out what the buzz was all about. Touted as an adults-only, no-holds-barred, shirts-optional run where the rules include no guns, no bad attitudes and no beer garden, I had to wonder what makes over 2,100 bikers gather each year. No beer garden and no guns going off at 2:00 a.m.? What kind of biker event was this going to be; s’mores and campfires with lights out at 10:00 p.m.? I was hoping for so much more.
The Southeast Portland chapter of ABATE holds two fundraising events each year to support their home charity, Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Portland. For those following Northwest news, you may remember the Southeast ABATE chapter helps fund custom-made wheelchairs and voice recognition software at no cost to the patients in the hospital. The chairs have a hefty price tag of $10,000 each, so this organization aims high when it comes to service. Run 21 is their summer fundraising event, and this event highlighted the same level of generosity in the biker community, while throwing one hell of a kickass party.
One such act of unique generosity was a freehand charcoal masterpiece created by artist Joe Kennedy. The canvas creation took about 14 hours to complete, and the artist’s hopes were to support Southeast ABATE’s future fundraising efforts by donating the original piece of art for auction. Kennedy stated that he really wanted to reflect the community vibe among bikers, making the piece even more unique by inviting all the rally attendees to tag the canvas in any manner they saw fit. Some just signed their names, while others offered thanks to Southeast ABATE for a great party. As the event stretched on, the canvas became a swirl of gratitude and thanks to the volunteers and coordinators that make this event happen.
By Friday afternoon a steady stream of bikes and trikes were rolling into the venue. The Run 21 girls were touring the campground offering a little tease of fun to come. The lovely ladies were struttin’ their stuff on a flatbed truck, quickly setting the tone for this adults-only party. With little more on than thigh-high boots, these sexy ladies offered the right “words” of motivation to inspire campers to quickly stake claims for tent space. Seven new acres opened this year to allow for more party goers. Tent town was quickly erected, coolers were iced down and the bikes parked for proper cred by passers-by. Fellow party goers offered to ice anyone down that was feeling too hot after the first of many four-wheelers passed by with six (or more) topless ladies racing to their next party stop. While some were mesmerized by the blur of flesh passing by, others soon realized it was time to hustle downtown for the first round of dancing, wet T-shirts and, of course, the ceremonial party starter—the beer belly contest.
Eleven men braved the stage, baring all in hopes of winning bragging rights and the $100 prize for the biggest beer belly in Birkenfeld. Judy led the event, getting the crowd in the party mood with some bumping music and gyrating bellies. One contestant tried a new twist with a cooler of cold ones strapped to his chest. Despite a few cheers for creativity the crowd was focused, supporting the more traditional set of hopeful contestants. Winners were chosen by the crowd and ultimately big Frank won out by beating his worthy opponent, Casey. After photos with appreciative ladies, some party change dumped in their pockets and the cry of, “Let’s get this party started” from the crowd, Run 21was officially under way.
Friday night the party kicked off with rockin’ blues by Cascade Blues Association Hall of Famer Lisa Mann. Her smoky vocals and fiery six-string bass playing are well known to locals. This rally attracts attendees from all over the Northwest. Even those unfamiliar with the band realized great music was happening, and it didn’t take more than the first verse to get the crowds to their feet. The party goers enjoyed this private party made perfect by the warm sun and coolers full of cold ones. As night fell, rock legend Rick Derringer took the stage, promising a blowout party long into the night. The band kicked into high gear as the rowdy crowd swelled, dancing to classics including Rock ’n’ Roll, Hoochie Koo and Free Ride into the wee hours. As the party slowly broke up, folks stumbled off to the closest tent to get ready for round two. It was clear these folks intended to keep the party going.
Saturday started out slow and a tad early for these dedicated party goers. Registration for bike games started at the insane hour of 8:00 a.m., and came with hangover remedies consisting mainly of whether you had a preference for a green bean or celery stick in your Bloody Mary. Or the crowd favorite, “Dude, don’t let the buzz go; just stay on a steady drinking schedule; all will be golden.” Along with drink tips came some mighty tall tales of super-slow rides and the best-looking wienie bite partner. The games are limited to 80 players and each had a story to tell. As one of only two female riders in the games, I quickly bonded with the other, Barbara, and together we displayed our own riding skills to the crowd.
Soon the games were underway and alas, this rider was not the slow rider of the day. That honor went to Mark Bonnie on his trusty blacked-out Fat Boy. The plank ride proved too much for most on even the nimblest of rides. A rider named Brandon proved his impressive riding skills by flying down the full length of the board—he was the only contestant that day to even get the bike onto the plank. Potato cone games highlighted the balance skills of many, but once again Mark and his trusty rider proved they had what it takes to win the game.
No event is complete without a wienie bite and burnout contest, and Run 21 didn’t disappoint. The crowd went wild for this event, and with the offer of free T-shirts for those who chose to ride semi-au natural, it was standing room only to get a good view of the ta-tas passing by. Within minutes of announcing the topless incentive, the crowed swelled, as it seemed to be the wake-up call needed for those still trying to remember where they left their shoes the night before. The Run 21 girls proved to be worthy opponents, but even their desire for a new T-shirt did not unnerve tiny bikini-clad Christy Rose and her full bite thanks to the smooth riding of Greg Moody.
The burnout contest started with a custom drag bike brought into the arena to “oohs” and “aahs.” The team never seemed to get the timing right, though, and the tiny puff of smoke was proof that even big bikes are not always the bad bikes. The crowd became restless and calls for smoke and burnt rubber sounded throughout. A fiery-red Street Bob was next. The bike fired up and soon proved to be the burnout badass. A thick cloud of smoke enveloped the crowd, blocking the rider from view until the telling sound of a ruptured tire caused the crowd to go ballistic. Number 41 proved a crowd pleaser with his customized three-wheeled Sportster, proving you don’t have to be big to be hardcore. This bike blacked out the arena with thick smoke, and when the cloud cleared, the wild cheering made it known that he was the winner of the day.
The venue of Run 21 is set on a twisty highway begging to be conquered by those willing to brave the poorly maintained Oregon roadways. With the games over and a few hours to burn before the band started, the stream of riders leaving the venue to conquer the pavement began.
Even if you attend this rally alone, you won’t stay that way for long. Soon plans were made and four new friends were willing to take me up on a ride out to Astoria, Oregon. I recently traded my baby bike for a Dyna Low Rider and I was anxious to put him through the paces. Highway 202 is not for the faint of heart, but worth the effort. The road is not heavily traveled, so it allows you to enjoy the old growth of forest and farmland as you work your way through the Pacific Coast Range. Upon reaching Astoria, the group was ready for a break to enjoy this small seaside town. As hostess, I wanted to take the group for the best Astoria had to offer. Bowpicker Fish and Chips is biker friendly and provides ample parking for all. Alas, as I made my final turn my hopes for lunch were dashed and my secret was out. More than 30 bikes parked on the street and the line went to the next block. Down the street was Fort George Brewery and Public House, another friendly establishment. They offer a full bar, home brew, a huge outdoor deck with a view of the Colombia River and homemade sausages to refuel you for the ride home. Once we had lingered in the sun, we soon realized it was time to gear up and head back to the party. The music lineup for Saturday was not to be missed.
Saturday night the party was a blowout in the making. A friendly group of women set up a venue and gave passersby a ranking from one to 10 depending on the satisfaction level in the “categories” selected by the group. The stripper pole received heavy action thanks to the monitoring and occasional challenge to combat your inner prude from beer-drinking professionals BW and Derrick. An impressive array of wild ones demonstrated the virtues of strong inner thighs resulting in cheers for just a little more, and these ladies were happy to oblige. Pole monitors BW and Derrick epitomized the unique party style found at Run 21, proudly displaying the number of drinks consumed thus far in the day with a stack of cans more than seven feet tall.
The road into the downtown area was lined with folks willing to give out beads to worthy flashers—a little New Orleans in the backwoods of Oregon. There were 31 vendors working hard making those last-minute patch and leather sales before the Iron Maidens rocked the stage, revving up the party for headliners Great White. Original member Mark Kendall proved he could still rock his guitar and Terry Ilous on vocals brought the crowd to their feet, dancing and stomping the night away. One crimp in the run came late in Great White’s set when a loud explosion erupted from the front of the property. A teenage prank took out a comfort station and stopped the band in its tracks. Angry ABATE members offered a hefty reward for the asshole, and reminded all to “party hard, have fun, go as wild as your imagination will allow, but out in the forest, M-80s are a killjoy—not a reason to party harder.” With that said and money laid on the table, Great White quickly rekindled the party and rocked the night away.
Vicki O., the event’s coordinator, runs a smooth ship. A year-round job for her, this event continues to improve annually. The party campground venue provides a perfect setting for large clubs to come and have a good time. Food and merchandise vendors were top quality. Amenities were ample, creating a carefree weekend where partiers can be themselves, let their hair down and hopefully find a hula hoop girl of their own. Private property enables this venue to be free of some of the “area’s finest” heavily monitoring the comings and goings of the crowd. Instead, Run 21 coordinators create a hassle-free venue, setting the perfect vibe for dancing, drinking and just getting wild for a weekend to remember.