A little drizzle and a cold, blustery wind could not deter more than 200 riders who arrived at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Kenosha Sunday afternoon for the blessing that had been missing from the house of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riders from the Libertyville, Ill.-based Lakeshore Chapter of Harley Owners were ready for a new season of freedom on the open road with peace of mind and the Lord at their side. With a police escort from Lake County, most of the riders made the 26-mile trek to the south side Kenosha church that began the tradition of blessing them over three decades ago.

The event was the brainchild of the Rev. Marvin Oechler, the pastor emeritus who founded the bike blessing nearly 33 years ago. It was the 32nd blessing at the church. While it was postponed the last two years, the riders received their blessing in Libertyville last year.

As they rumbled into the parking lot, they hopped off their Harley-Davidson motorcycles, hugging and hand-shaking before heading to a short luncheon and hot beverages. The blessing was their goal.

While she used to ride, admitting that she could barely touch the pavement with the balls of her feet, Aasen was nonetheless happy to be able to deliver the short service and blessing.

The blessing

“It so nice to back,” said the Rev. Cindy Aasen, the church’s pastor, who climbed a ladder to address the riders.

“The roads we ride and the vehicles we use come to us through your vast creation. Together we gather to ask your blessing upon these servants and upon their bikes in Jesus’ name,” she said as the bikers bowed their heads. “Keep them safe, Lord, through swirling turns and rolling hills. Let the eagles guide them to the mountaintops; let the moonlight guide them through the night. Let the air of spring breathe life into their soul. To begin a new journey and adventure out on the open road.

“May the sun rise up in front of you. May the rain fall behind you and the wind follow beside you. May God guard your travels for the Lord knows the road ahead you,” she said. “Keep them safe, Lord, this day and all seasons.”

The riders

Phillip Williams of Mundelein, Ill., said while he has been riding awhile, this was the first time he’s come to Kenosha to receive his bike blessing.

“(I ride) for the freedom. And, because it relieves a lot of stress,” said Williams, who rides a 2018 “Fat Boy” Harley. “Plus, for brotherhood with other bikers.”

Jose Espinosa, of Chicago, and Jose Delgado of Zion, Ill., said they love coming to the blessing. “We come … like all bikers, so we can have a blessing for the rest of the year and be safe out here,” said Delgado.

Espinosa has been riding since 1993 and admits to being an “adrenaline junkie.”

“But I love the peacefulness of it,” he said. “It puts me at peace.”

Delgado called riding a motorcycle “wind therapy.”

“(I do it) just to relax … enjoy some of the scenery,” he said.

Originally published on kenoshanews.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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