Blessing Bikes at Vineyard Church in Duluth

Annual event ushering in motorcycle riding season held.

DULUTH, Minn.- During Motorcycle Awareness Month, hundreds of bikers from as far as Rochester came together at the Vineyard Church in Duluth, to hold the annual Blessing of the Bikes.

The music blares, as young and old scarf down baked beans and barbecue.

At first glance it’s a typical Memorial Day Weekend Barbecue outside Vineyard church.

“It’s something that I don’t ever want to miss every single year,” said Pastor Chad Amborn.

Then, the rumble of motorcycle engines cut through the parking lot, and you see that a lot of the guests are in leather.

“Obviously the Blessing of the Bikes, it’s everybody wanting to be able to have their bikes blessed, prayed over for the upcoming year,” Amborn said.

For these bikers, riding is more than a hobby, it brings them closer to their beliefs.

“Whether it’s the wind in your beard, or centrifugal force going around corners, or the experience of riding, the sights and the smells and the sounds, like, I experience the presence of God,” said Michael Gatlin, Senior Pastor at the church.

“And kinda him smiling on me.”

Even though you may not think of church and motorcycles being so tied together.

“They discover that church doesn’t have to be stuffy, y’know that it can actually be kind of fun together,” Gatlin said.

A team of Prayer Leaders take on the 220 bikes one by one, asking for a good riding season, free from harm.

“I guess for some people it’s become kind of a, not a superstition but something that if they don’t do it that year, it’s kind of taboo,” Amborn said.

What these motorcyclists pray for most, is awareness.

According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, the highest risk factor for motorcycle crashes is careless, negligent, and erratic driving.

“I’d say that’s probably, that’s really the main danger,” said Amborn.

“Having to be aware of everybody, y’know, cars ahead, making sure that we’re 100% aware of our surrounding, y’know, environment.”

More than 5 thousand motorcycle deaths happened in the United States in 2017, which accounted for 14% of all motor vehicle facilities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

But these prayers, always ending with a warm embrace and well wishes, are a good sign that the upcoming season will be smooth sailing.

“We worship God as we look at the scripture, and then as we pray for each other and then go out and ride,” Gatlin said.

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