Anchorage Bike Blessing draws riders from around the state

The Gathering at the Bike Blessing drew nearly 1,000 bikers from around the state to the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage on May 4, 2019. (Photo by Kirsten Swann/Alaska Public Media)

Morning rain didn’t stop nearly 1,000 Alaskans from motoring up to the Delaney Park Strip to take part in Anchorage’s annual Bike Blessing on Saturday.

“You know, in Alaska, if you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride,” said Greg Porter, zipping across the park on a borrowed Kymco scooter.

President of the Arctic Apostles, a local chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Porter has helped run the annual Bike Blessing for more than a decade, he said. The event — which coincides with the start of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month — is organized by the nonprofit group Alaska Bikers Advocating Training & Education, otherwise known as ABATE.

Motorcycles lined up along 10th Avenue in Anchorage during the annual Gathering at the Bike Blessing on May 4, 2019. (Photo by Kirsten Swann/Alaska Public Media)

It’s a way to unite Alaska bikers from up and down the road system, Porter said. This year, attendees came from as far away as Valdez, Homer and Fairbanks. Rows of bikes lined the streets around the park, and the men and women gathered on the grass represented motorcycle clubs from communities across the state: the American Legion Riders, the Green Knights from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the Combat Vets Association, Black Sheep Harley Davidsons for Christ, Wind & Fire MC and others.

The daylong event included proclamations from politicians, vendor booths selling reindeer dogs and barbeque and leather, a bucking salmon ride, a fashion show and the Rolling Thunder Ceremony, when riders circled the block en masse.

But perhaps the most important parts are the blessings: When you bless someone’s bike, Porter said, you’re actually blessing the person themself.

“And that’s just what I love so much about it,” he shouted, steering through the parkstrip crowd as rain clouds gave way to blue afternoon skies. “It’s about serving the very people that are our neighbors, that we live right next to.”

Kirsten Swann is a producer and reporter for Alaska Public Media.

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