The Corner Saloon's Wednesday Harley Night attracts a large and eclectic mix of patrons
You hear them before you see them. They come on steel horses, dressed in leather and denim. Some have tattoos, some don't. Some ride Harleys, some don't. They ride for the freedom of the open road and a chance to get out of the house.
Every Wednesday during the summer for the past 10 years the Corner Saloon's Harley Night has attracted a diverse group of people. It is not just for the leather-clad road knights, but for anyone who wants to blow off some steam mid-week.
'From one week to the next we'll get a totally different crowd,' Simon Ostler, owner of the Corner Saloon, said.
Ostler and his wife, Barbara, who live in Stafford, have owned the saloon, which sits next to Wanker's Country Store at Borland and Stafford roads, for 14 years. They started Harley Night because of a tip from another bar owner in Washington.
Ostler said he was at a function with a friend who owns a store in Seattle, and they talked about their bars. His friend told him that every week they do a taco Tuesday, and that Ostler should think about doing something at the Corner Saloon.
'And I said, 'Well OK! Let's give it a shot,'' Ostler said. 'But instead of Tuesdays I picked Harley Taco Wednesdays because it was my slowest night.'
Not any more.
Any given week, Ostler sees up to 300 bikes parked in his lot. The record is 1,000 bikes, which happened a few years ago at the Sept. 11 memorial event. It all depends on the weather.
'This year has been a little off because of the uncooperative weather,' he said. 'Some nights we'll see 300 bikes, other nights we're lucky to get 5.'
Al Sanchez, Beaverton, has been coming to Harley Night ever since its inception in 2001.
'I'm one of the few who come every Wednesday,' Sanchez said. 'Unless there's snow on the ground, I'm here every Wednesday.'
Sanchez is a rare breed of rider. His mentality is that, 'if it's a road I can ride it.' Just a few weeks ago, he and a buddy rode their Harleys across the Arctic Circle trucking roads.
This, however, doesn't make him a purist when it comes to Harley Night. Yes he rides one, but doesn't expect everyone to.
'As long as you're in the wind, as long as you're riding, that's what counts,' Sanchez said.
That seems to be everyone's mentality about Harley Night. It's a gathering opportunity, a chance to see old friends and make new ones. It's an opportunity to goggle at other bikes and relax a little before the Thursday/Friday slog.
'It's a sense of camaraderie, a gathering for the love of motorcycling,' Sanchez said. 'We get together to look at other guys' bikes, and their women,' he said, laughing.
In other words freedom spurs these people to attend Harley Night. For some, it's a freedom from life's demands.
Teri Worley, Happy Valley, has been coming here for three years, and has been riding for six years. She loves Harley Night because it lets her get away from it all.
'It's something my husband and I can do together,' Worley said. 'We can get out, forget the business, forget the kids, forget the house, and just go.'
The Corner Saloon attracts like-minded people, but that doesn't mean they are all from the same background.
'You see all kinds of people here. People from the (biker's) clubs who ride all year, to the doctors and lawyers who ride five times a year,' So Low, an employee of the Corner Saloon, said.
Mixing people of different backgrounds is what the weekly event is all about. No matter what you ride or what you do, you will be accepted because the love of riding trumps all differences.
'We're all individuals, and that is what this thing is all about,' said Sanchez. 'It doesn't matter what you ride.'
Harley Night is an experience not to be missed. Its all-inclusive atmosphere and diverse group of patrons remind us that there are still safe havens for like-minded people to gather.
The Corner Saloon is that place for motorcyclists. They are all good-natured people who just want to enjoy the company of others who love motorcycle riding.
'It's great,' said Worley. 'To see the people, and the different bikes - it's just cool.'