The Davis bike paths are a hazardous place. With high traffic density between classes and frequently messy roundabouts, divine intervention on the road sounds like a good idea.
The Davis Bike Church offered the next-best thing Saturday with a bike blessing. It was the Bike Church’s first blessing with more to potentially follow in the future, said Chris Congleton, who helped organize and officiate the event.
The event was based on the annual bike blessing at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.
“I was visiting in New York, and [the bike blessing] was mentioned on a tour, and I thought, ‘What an amazing opportunity,’ but whereas that was a more Christian oriented event, we didn’t want to identify the event with any specific religion,” said Matt Seitzler, one of the organizers and officiators of the event.
Seventeen people gathered at the grassy field by the Bike Church at the Domes at 11 a.m., before the sun became too uncomfortably hot. As people arrived, they were greeted by an altar space with a shrine box decorated with flowers.
Bike chains were anointed with oil, symbolizing the links between people at the event and on the road, and brushed with burning sage representing cleansing and purity.
Then the bikes were gathered in the center of a grassy field and the participants formed a circle around them. People introduced themselves and gave their reasons for attending. Most people said they were in attendance to wish others well on the road, but several had come to remember people who lost their lives in bicycle accidents.
There was a moment of silence for injured or killed cyclists and a non-denominational blessing passed around the circle, which consisted of participants turning to their neighbor and telling them, “May you ride safely in the direction of your dreams.”
The event concluded with an energy transfer, called a “pow!,” in which positive energy was willed into the gathered bicycles.
“The best thing you can do for yourself is to help others, and that was the idea behind this,” Seitzler said. “We’re concerned and dedicated cyclists.”
Participants’ reactions at the event were overwhelmingly positive. One of the attendees explained his reasons for coming.
“I think the Bike Church is a really important institution, and I want to support it as I can,” said participant Dave Vernon. “And also it’s a neat idea to come together and think about and remember those people who have been lost while doing something, which I don’t think society recognizes how beneficial it is.”
Cycling, Vernon said, is part of the potential solution to some of the major problems in the world.
“We talk about the food crisis, we talk about the oil crisis – I don’t think people realize that if a few more people just got on a bike, the conversation would be a lot different.”
The Bike Church hopes to host the event again, but in the meantime, they offer help on fixing bicycles Saturdays and Wednesdays from noon to 6 p.m. They also sponsor Critical Mass bike rides on the last Friday of each month.
J. DANA STUSTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.XXX