2009 Hodaka Days

Three days of vintage parades, BBQs, trials and trail rides

Jul. 06, 2009 By Rick Sieman
Riders lined up for the trail ride on Saturday. Public roads were made open for the dirt bikes.

Once each year, they gather in Athena, Oregon (population less than 2,000) to celebrate Hodaka Days. And why not? After all, Pabatco (Pacific Basin Trading Company) was the sole distributor for Hodaka from the 1960s through the mid-70s. It was a loose company, one that never took themselves seriously. They had fun, real fun.

After all, what company would name their bikes so, uh, strangely? Wombat, Dirt Squirt, Combat Wombat, Road Toad, Thunderdog and Super Rat.Yet, people bought them. Why, you might ask? Mostly it was because you got an honest bike for an honest price. Sure, there were Japanese 125s that were faster, better looking and with superior suspension. But many of them cost hundreds more, some nearly twice as much.

Think about this: in the late '60s, you could buy a brand new Hodaka for around $475. A piston cost under five bucks, a set rings for less than $2 and gaskets for a few dollars more.Yep, for right around ten bucks and a few hours in the garage, you could have fresh top end ready to go riding the next day. This would explain the almost fanatical following of people who learned to ride and wrench on a Hodie.

Most every night, all kinds of people would gather at Harry Taylors garage and conduct some high-level bench racing.

At Hodaka Days, there were a lot of people attending in their 50s and 60s who look back fondly at Hodakas. After all, they grew up in good times, simpler times, when a buck for gas would keep you riding all weekend.When there were still many places to ride, when vacant lots could be used for having fun without squad cars surrounding the area. Those times may be gone, but the memories remain. And I would guess that's why Hodaka Days keeps growing.

Athena opens up its doors to the Hodaka dirtbike folks, allowing the riders to use the streets and roads to move around and start their trail rides. Heck, they even have a parade of motorcycles through the town. We talked with one of the local policemen and he noted that there had been no incidents or hassles the entire time from Thursday through Sunday. Hey, these are good people.

The Hodaka Club folks manage to pack a huge amount of activities into three solid days. Here's a partial list of events, which follow a SPECIAL EVENT on Thursday - an Employee Reunion held at Harry Taylor's garage. This is really a glorified bench racing session, with huge amounts of beer consumed and a good time had by all.

Here's the big Dodge diesel that carried us 28 hours each way to Athena. Paul and Pattie Stannard rode the prototype 175 in the parade. At the mid-point of the trail ride, the riders took a break at a local farm.

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10:00 Showers Open for Campers
Location: City Park

10:30 Hodaka Club Information Booth Open
Join the Hodaka Club and save money on events at Hodaka Days. Location: Downtown Weston at the tennis courts

The Hodaka Club hired a helicopter to video the trail ride.

9:00 - 3:00 Bad Rock Reunion Trail Ride
Registration begins at 9:00 AM. Registration fee $15 or $10 for Hodaka Club members. Mandatory riders' meeting at 9:45. Ride begins at 10:00. Riders will be grouped into teams of 3 - 4 for safety and make sure there is at least one tool kit in each group. Be ready at the staging area at 10:00 with your group. Due to insurance requirements, you must sign a release waiver and get a wrist band. All riders must wear a helmet and are asked to carry a toolkit. Bikes will be inspected and must have a USFS approved spark arrester. Location: Downtown Weston at the tennis courts

4:00 - 6:30 Hodaka Club Meeting
Club members are invited to participate in the annual meeting. General business, by-law changes, and Hodaka Days 2010 - among other things - to be discussed. Current club president Paul Stannard will preside Location: Park Pavilion

7:30-10:00 Fabrication with Plastics, Slide Show Location: Swanson residence - 424 E College (see map)

Paul Stannard kicks over the one-off 1990 Hodaka 175 enduro. What? Didn't know about this bike? Stay tuned to ORC for more on this rare bird. Another bike that doesn't exist - the Mini Rat. Details coming soon.


6:00 - 10:00 Pancake Breakfast
Put on by the Athena Chapter of the American Legion at the Legion hall

8:00 - 10:00 Showers Open for Campers
Location: City Park

The parade through Athena was headed by the muffler car.

8:30 - 9:00 Parade Riders Certification
Due to insurance requirements, all parade riders 13 to 18 without proof of a valid motorcycle endorsement must report to the parade staging area for a quick certification test. Sorry, no riders under 13 in the parade (passengers under 13 are okay with parental consent). Location: Next to the high school

9:00 -10:00 Main Street Parade
Meet promptly in the staging area next to the high school. Mandatory riders' meeting at 9:20 and parade at 9:30. Due to insurance requirements, you must sign a release waiver and get a wrist band. All riders must wear a helmet. Bikes must have a muffler. Location: Next to the high school

9:00 - 12:00 Athena Library open
Visit the beautiful new Athena Library. Check out the Hodaka historical exhibits in the local history room. Look for the plaque on the east wall honoring the Hodaka Club's contribution to the library. Computers and wifi available for Internet access. Location: Main Street

10:00 - 4:00 Swap Meet
Location: City Park

10:30-1:00 Bike Show
Sixteen classes. Class winners chosen by popular vote. Enter between 10:00 and 10:30. Voting 10:30 to 12:30. New for this year is the President's Choice trophy, awarded for the best original Hodaka. This special award is judged by a selected panel of Hodaka experts. Winners announced at the Saturday night BBQ. Location: City Park

10:00 - 5:00 Food and Beverage Service from Leyah's Catering
Hot dogs, hamburgers, corn dogs, sandwiches, fries & chips, soft drinks, and more. Location: City Park

1:30-4:30 Observed Trials
Novice, Intermediate and Expert classes."No stop" scoring. Entry fee is $15 or $10 for Hodaka Club members. Due to insurance regulations, you must be an AMA member, sign a release waiver, and get a wrist band. Registration begins 30 minutes prior to the event. AMA members of any age are eligible. Location: Trials course

6:00-7:00 BBQ Dinner
Includes BBQ chicken, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, roll, ice tea or lemonade, coffee and fruit cobbler. Buy your tickets in advance from our food vendor, Leyah's Catering. Sorry, at the requests of our hosts, no alcohol please. Location: Sacred Heart Hall - 5th and College

7:00 - 9:00 Awards Presentation, Raffle, Auction, and Featured Speaker.
Awards presentation for the bike show and trials and raffle of a classic model 94 Wombat to support Athena's Gem, Inc.'s effort to restore the historic Gem Theater. Followed by an auction to raise money for the Hodaka Club. Our featured speaker for the evening will be former Dirt Bike magazine editor and all-around vintage motorcycle good guy Rick Sieman aka" Super Hunky", who will present one of his brutally honest and always entertaining "Don't
Ask" sessions and be available to sign copies of his book "Monkey Butt". Sorry, at the requests of our hosts, no alcohol please. Raffle tickets are available at the registration desk and the banquet hall. Location: Sacred Heart Hall - 5th and College

A fully police-equipped Hodaka was donated to the Athena Police Department. Just a few of the hundreds of Hodaka Club members. Some of the scenery in Oregon was truly spectacular.


8:00-10:00 Showers Open for Campers
Location: City Park

8:00 - 9:00 Racing Registration Open
Location: Diamond Eye track

The bike of John Patterson was ridden in a parade lap in memory of the fallen rider.

8:30 - 3:00 Scrambles Racing
On the track laid out by Harry Taylor. Mandatory riders meeting for all scrambles participants at 8:30. Due to insurance regulations, you must be an AMA member, sign a release waiver and get a wrist band. AMA members of any age are eligible. $15 for each class or $10 each class for Hodaka Club members. Practice starts at 9:00 AM, Racing at 10:00. Location: Diamond Eye track

Whew! How they managed to bring all that up and pull it off is simply amazing. But by and large, the entire Hodaka Days was a success.

Only one thing flawed the good times. On Sunday, 44-year old John Patterson died of a heart attack on the starting line of the race track.

His brother said that John would have wanted the club to continue with the races, but the Hodaka club held a quick meeting and settled on a dramatically shorted schedule of one race for each class.

Paul Stannard rode John's bike around the track, with all of the others riders following, in a parade lap honoring John. Hodaka Days ended on this somber note.


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