Motorcyclists gather for 12th Annual Bike Blessing

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COLUMBIA - More than 80 bikers from across Missouri met at New Beginnings Christian Center Sunday morning to celebrate the 12th Annual Bike Blessing.

Pastor Scott "Smitty" Smith, who also serves as president of Sovereign Disciples Motorcycle Club, spoke at the Christian worship service before heading into the parking lot to bless the bikes.

The blessing consisted of prayers of saftey for the bikers and their bikes on the road.

Eric Denton of Black Sheep Harley-Davidson for Christ in Columbia, offered assistance with blessing the bikes. This is Denton's second year at the blessing and recognizes the bond shared between motorcyclists in attendance.

"When we're riding down the road and one of us is having trouble and another biker comes by, we'll see them and stop," Denton said.  

Denton said the bikers look out for one another's safety on the road. 

"I don't care what kind of motorcycle a person rides," Denton said. "I'll wave at them, I'll stop if they need help and I hope they'll stop if I need help."

Safety for motorcyclists, specifically the safety of biker's heads, has recently been debated in the Missouri House of Representatives. Although Missouri has a universal law requiring bikers to wear their helmets on the road, Illinois and Iowa have no such legislation. This causes confusion when cyclists from out-of-state pass through Missouri.

South Dakota will host the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally August 3-9. Due to the large number of anticipated bikers traveling through Missouri from states where helmets are not required, the House proposed HB 1025. The bill would not require anyone who hails from outside Missouri and is at least 21-years-old to wear protective headgear from August 1-21. However, this bill was referred to the transportation committee and did not pass before the current legislative session ended May 15.

Missouri motorcyclist and Sovereign Disciples Vice President Hammer said he did not believe the Missouri helmet law should be in place for bikers over the age of 21.

"I don't think the government should tell me if I should wear a helmet or not," Hammer said. "I think it should be up to the rider alone if he should wear a helmet."

Hammer has been riding for over 30 years and said that younger, less-experienced riders should wear a helmet, but depending on the model he said they can be more distracting.

"Some of the helmets cut down on my visuals where I can see," Hammer said. "The over-the-ear helmets cut off the sound where I can't hear something coming up behind me."