Warmer Texas weather means an abundance of motorcycles on state highways, Farm-to-Market roads and city streets.
While motorcyclists conduct campaigns to draw awareness to their presence on roadways, some bikers are asking for a little extra help from a higher power.
“We are coming together to break denominational barriers outside of church walls,” said Gatesville prayer leader Monty Van Horn, also the pastor of the Highway to Heaven Church.
Van Horn rides a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic labeled with special stickers believed to provide a hedge of protection.
Motorcyclists from Gatesville to Temple recently gathered at Dave’s Ice House in Copperas Cove for a “bike blessing.”
Organizer Marc George of the Christian Motorcycle Association’s “Warriors of the Way” Chapter 575 of Killeen said the bikers came from among 70 different groups in the area.
“We gather around each person and their bike and we pray for them. We ask if they want a temporal or an eternal blessing where we profess our faith,” George said. “Each rider gets a cool sticker that goes on their bike and a card to remind them and help them pray.”
The Blessing of the Bikes is an annual tradition in which riders of motorcycles are blessed by a clergyman in the hope it will bring safety for the coming season.
While the ceremony is nondenominational, focusing more on rider safety than religion, the service does include prayers and reading of biblical passages.
Often, a brief memorial service is held to acknowledge riders who died the previous year.
Motorcycle deaths have been on the rise because there are more motorcyclists on the road, riders are less protected, there are a greater number of inexperienced drivers and most motorists don’t watch out for motorcyclists, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In Texas, everyone must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle unless they are over 21 and have an insurance plan specifically for crash-related head injuries.
Motorcycle safety course
As of 2009, in order to become a licensed motorcycle driver, a person must complete a motorcycle safety course.
But for George and the dozens of bikers who gathered for the blessing, they believe an additional layer of protection comes from the “man upstairs.”
“There have been a lot of accidents lately. We attend memorial services, do hospital visits and church visits,” George said. “You’d be surprised at how many in the biker community are saved.”
If you would like to be blessed or have your motorcycle blessed, contact the Christian Motorcycle Association local chapter at http://cmascr4.org/txn/warriorsoftheway/default.aspx.