Photographer:Graham Hiemstra
Camera:Contax T2
Film:Kodak Portra 400

America's Most Renegade Motorcycle Gathering

Bikes, beers, camping and chaos in the PNW at Dirt Quake USA

The first thing most everyone notices about Dirt Quake is the incredible lack of information online. A quick Google search brings up years-old results with dead links and little else.This theme extends to the IRL version of the renegade motorcycle race as well—even after we had officially signed up, paid to race, and received a rough itinerary (that made little sense) we were still directionless. Literally. Hell, even google maps couldn’t find the damn dirt track, despite it being in the city limits of a town no bigger than a few city blocks. But hey, that’s what you get when you’re after America’s most renegade motorcycle race/event/party.

Held an hour or so north of Portland, OR in the sleepy town of Castle Rock, WA, Dirt Quake is a physical melting pot of motorcycle culture spun off from the original UK iteration put on by flat-track obsessed Sideburn magazine and since adopted by Portland’s See See Motorcycles. The two day gathering of PNW motorcycle enthusiasts centers around professional and super-not-professional flat-track racing, with classes including Chopper, Street Tracker/Scrambler, Inappropriate Road Bike, Tripod, Lady, Hooligan, and Minibike. It’s pure madness.

Our rough estimate put this year’s attendance at around a couple thousand, effectively doubling the town’s population overnight. Of the lot, every type of person was in attendance, and equally interested in getting as loose as humanly possible. From Portland greasers and genuine motorcycle racers to curious old timers, casual tire kickers, and local shithead teenagers hell bent on making the most of the area’s biggest party of the year. In years past comparisons have been made to the early days of Sturgis Rally. All we know is as soon as passed through the hilarious checkpoint and secured our “Let’s Party” emblazoned wristband, there were no rules whatsoever.

The weekend quickly blurred into a single ongoing party fueled by old friends, new friends, cold daddies, and no shortage of mechanized things to jump on and crash. By some comical stroke of luck I found myself atop a fresh Coleman Trail200U Mini Bike and racing in the Minibike category. Though our pals at Portland-based Cycle Heap tried their best to hotrod the little bastard, I sailed safely into last place by the end of the four lap race. Surely the series of crashes the bike sustained hours prior to race time in the gravel pit behind the track didn’t help. Oh well, it was an honor just to participate. lol.

The night time races culminated with bonfires, live bands, and more booze than previously thought consumable. Sounds of fireworks lulled me to sleep as visions of three-wheeled contraptions and vintage bikes duking it out on the track danced in my head. And in the morning, passed out bodies were only outnumbered by empty Rainier cans. With year 3 in the books, you best believe next year will bring even more weirdos out of the woodwork. And we'll do our best to be there. What a hell of a way to spend a weekend.

During the Hooligan event one unlucky rider bit the dust in rather unfavorable fashion, suffering a broken neck. A GoFundMe has been set up to support his tough situation.

Author:
Brooklyn-based writer, photographer and founder of The Field. Graham apologizes in advance for his many mispellings.
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