Bikers gather in Silver Water for annual blessing

Reverend Janice Frame, far left in photo, and 36 bikers from both Manitoulin and off-Island take part in the fifth annual Blessing of the Bikers and Bikes, held in Silver Water last Saturday.

SILVER WATER—Despite an early morning threat of rain showers, a group of avid motorcycle enthusiasts and friends met in Silver Water last Saturday for the fifth annual Blessing of the Bikers and Bikes. 

Riders came on Harleys, Hondas and other bikes, including a Bombardier Spider. Many of those present were attending their first blessing, and some travelled from as far as Sudbury to participate. “I’m always looking for a reason to go for a ride, and I heard about this, so I thought I’d come,” said one first-timer.

Larry Morrison and Ted Culgin requested the first blessing in 2014, thinking that the bikers of the Manitoulin region could benefit from a gathering similar to the original event, which took place in 1972, in Lake County, Michigan. That event in Michigan now attracts over 40,000 bikers. Silver Water’s number this year was 36.

The blessing began with Harley rider Larry Morrison reading, ‘The Biker’s Poem,’ a thought-provoking piece that cuts through the biker-gang stereotype that often casts a shadow over every biker, and asks, “When will you open your eyes?”

Reverend Janice Frame of the United Churches of the west end of Manitoulin reminded those present that according to a report in the May 25 edition of The Recorder, in 2017 Ontario saw 48 fatalities involving motorcycles. “That’s 48 too many,” said Rev. Frame. “Our prayer is that this year there will be none.”

In honour of those 48, and in memory of all other bikers who made their last ride since the 2017 blessing including Triumph rider Brad Middleton of Evansville, Harley rider Don Nelson shared, ‘A Biker’s Prayer.’

A biker’s paraphrase of Psalm 121 puts a unique spin on a traditional song of pilgrimage that calls for God’s protection. Those present then blessed one another with these words: “May the Spirit bless you and your bike as you prepare to travel. May the Spirit bless you with awareness and help you ride defensively. May the Spirit bless you with patience, and guide you safely to your destination. May the Spirit bless you with wise companions who help make your journey enjoyable. And May your bike run smoothly and reliably throughout this season.”

Sharing lunch and laughter at the STOP 540 diner, bikers swapped stories of their favourite rides. A donation jar collected just over $270 for Manitoulin Island’s Special Olympians.