EVERETT — Katie Nelson was in her 20s when she first got on a motorcycle. She loved the feeling of freedom and leaving all her worries behind. And 40 years later, she is still riding.
Nelson, of Arlington, and her niece Denise Hutchinson of Camano Island took a ride to downtown Everett on Sunday to see the Sky Valley Classic and Antique Motorcycle Show.
Hutchinson, 41, got hooked on motorcycles because so many people in her family ride bikes. She is planning a trip with her aunt this summer to Yellowstone National Park.
“We want to live a little bit longer, so we ride safely,” Nelson said. A star-spangled neckerchief tastefully peaked out of the collar of her black leather jacket.
Held in Everett for the first time this year, the annual event drew close to 15,000 — more than organizers said they expected.
“I’m so amazed at the turnout and how well everything worked today,” said Dave Donaldson from the Sky Valley Chapter of the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, which organizes the event. The group is used to attracting a big crowd, he said, recalling the time an estimated 22,000 people showed up a couple of years ago.
The event previously was held in Snohomish. Organizers canceled the show last year after arguing with Snohomish police and city officials over how much they should pay for police services. Instead, the organizers held a scaled-down version in Sultan in July.
The motorcycle group liked the reception they received in Sultan, but visitors had trouble getting on and off U.S. 2. The small city also didn’t have much room for the show to grow.
Ken Gandee, 48, of Lynnwood, wasn’t planning to enter his bike in the contest this year, but his daughter Madison convinced him to do it. As a result, Gandee spent all day answering questions about his camouflage-colored Ural, a Russian sidecar motorcycle.
He got the bike because he wanted something unique, Gandee said. Some people are scared of riding in the sidecar because they can’t control it, he said. Madison, 18, and the family’s basset hound named Oliver like it just fine.
Oliver spent the entire day curled up in the sidecar and didn’t even mind people petting him and snapping pictures once in a while.
Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, firstname.lastname@example.org.