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Washington Voices

Empire Cycles throwing an anniversary party

Sat., Aug. 24, 2013

Motorcycle engines thrummed while riders wheeled themselves into a line for the race. Engines revved and the announcer checked the time to see how fast each rider traveled the distance – 40 feet.

The winner, Eric Patterson, 29, managed to steer his way to victory without putting his feet down in 24.9 seconds – a slow roll.

The event was one of many held at Ride ’Em Wednesday at Empire Cycle and Powersports. Since June 5, the motorcycle shop has offered food, music, games and a beer garden to the motorcycle community on Wednesday evenings.

Co-owner Debbie Ellis said inspiration came from Thunder Thursday – a weekly motorcycle and hot rod gathering in Idaho. People can show off their bikes, meet new people and have fun, but there was nothing like that for folks in the Spokane area.

The parking lot of Empire Cycle is large, so there is room for a beer garden, long lines of motorcycles that are for sale, a food truck, tables and chairs, a band, and a place for the motorcycle games.

Along with the slow roll, there is jousting, which is played with a passenger carrying a pool noodle. The driver tries to get to a cone before the other team so the passenger can knock a ball off a traffic cone. There is also an obstacle course. Riders maneuver their way through traffic cones and kick a stuffed hedgehog at the end of the course. Ellis likes the bean-bag toss. Riders carry a passenger who throws a bean bag through a tire.

“I won that one time,” she said.

Ellis said that along with providing the community with a fun night, it’s a good way to let people know what they have at the motorcycle shop, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary today. They specialize in European motorcycles such as Triumph and Moto Guzzi, and have a large selection of scooters, including Vespa and Kymco.

But mostly it is for fun. Everyone can meet and show off their bikes – and not just the European models. Empire Cycle welcomes all riders on Wednesdays.

Scott Magney, who was at the event for the second time, rides a Harley-Davidson. His friend Jason Cole rides a Triumph.

Patterson won his slow roll on a Suzuki.

“We like all bikes here,” said sales manager Al Bouquot.

The motorcycle ministry Bikers for Christ organizes the games and a 50-50 raffle. The donations they collect are used for events like a free barbecue at the Hillyard Skate Park.

Bouquot, also a member of Bikers for Christ, said it is a great feeling providing food to low-income families in Hillyard.

“It’s pretty powerful,” he said.

He added that Ellis and her husband and co-owner, Bob, don’t charge any of the vendors to set up at Ride ’Em Wednesdays.

“They’re doing me a favor,” Ellis said. Each week, there are vendors who sell jewelry, knives, rock etchings, and more who set up in the parking lot.

Along with the fun, there is a regular live band. Hung Phat plays rock ’n’ roll from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s while people grab dinner from the food truck.

“We love it,” said singer Sharon Tremble. “We’ve been having a blast.”

“We all ride, too,” said band member Patrick Nowacki.

This week, the food truck was Killer B’s. In weeks past Nordic BBQ has set up shop. During today’s anniversary event, Patty’s Taco Truck will be there to take orders. The beer garden is provided by Fredneck’s Saloon and Beanery in Rockford.

Along with today’s anniversary celebration, there will be one more Ride ’Em Wednesday Aug. 28 from 5 to 8 p.m.

“It brings the community together,” said Patterson. “It’s nice that they put something together.”

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