A convoy of motorcycles pulled into the Nikiski Church of the Nazarene parking lot Sunday and before long more than 40 bikes parked in front with their chrome accents gleaming in the sun and the sound of muffled engines in the air.
Riders from all over the Kenai Peninsula gathered for a bike blessing at the church. The annual ceremony is held on the first Sunday in May to usher in safe travel this summer on Alaskan roadways.
News of three motorcyclists killed in an accident on the Glenn Highway Saturday in Palmer weighed heavily on Nikiski resident Scott Hamann’s mind as he said a few words during the morning service.
According to an Alaska State Troopers report, the accident occurred when a vehicle stopped to make a turn but was rear-ended by another vehicle and pushed into the oncoming lane where four motorcyclists then collided with it. Three of the four were pronounced dead on scene while the other rider was hospitalized.
“I’m sure when they woke up yesterday morning they were not thinking it would be their last day on earth,” he said. “It serves as a somber reminder to make every day count and cherish your loved ones.”
Church of the Nazarene pastor Jason Evoy said bike blessing is his favorite Sunday of the year because regardless of faith everyone present shared the sanctity of humanity.
Bikers clad in black leather chaps and jackets socialized over coffee and donuts while admiring the variety of motorcycles in the lot. Soldotna resident Josh Land, the president of the Christian Motorcycle Association Peninsula Chapter, chatted with Antonio “Chico” Sandoval of Kasilof about his 2002 Santee motorcycle.
Land said the recent weather was perfect for riding. He rode the scenic bypass to Anchorage on Saturday and soaked up the views at Turnagain Arm.
Charlie MacDonald of Sterling shared stories of the road with Greg and Teresa Matranga from Soldotna. MacDonald is the owner of a Harley Davidson Heritage Springer with a custom flame painted gas tank and chrome skull on the front between the handlebars.
After the service, cyclists lined up one-by-one as Hamann and Kenai resident Gary Anderson prayed for the rider’s safety this summer.
Kenai residents Jake and Hilory Arness said this is the first blessing they have attended. After they each received their blessings, the two took off for a ride around the peninsula.
“We look forward to days like this,” Hilory Arness said. “You only have so many months to ride in Alaska.”