BlessingOfBikes05

Blessing of Bicycles

I don’t often write about my weekend bike rides, but this ride was different.  And definitely worth writing about.  My favorite youngest daughter was supposed to have a softball double-header this morning, but the condition of the fields remained so wet from all the rain during the past week that the games were cancelled.  So instead, she and I grabbed one of our tandem bikes and went to D.C.’s first annual Blessing of Bicycles service at the Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes, located at the bike-friendly intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and 12th Street (MAP) in downtown D.C.

Led by Father Dominique Peridans, the Blessing of Bicycles was a short, non-denominational outdoor prayer service asking God to bless the bicycles and provide both protection and joy for cyclists as they ride.  The service also included a time of remembrance for cyclists killed on local roads during the past year.  Blessings are a way that the Anglican church shows love and support for various groups, regardless of your stance on faith.  So the service was inclusive and open to all – regardless of religious affiliation or any affiliation at all, fat or thin tires, and brand of bike.  Attendees were also addressed by community representatives from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the District Department of Transportation.  MariAnn Budde, the Bishop of the Anglican Communion of Washington and an avid cyclist, also spoke and provided a prayer for the cyclists and their bikes.

The service was  followed by optional individual bicycle blessings for people who wanted a personal benediction.  There was then a short time for mingling during which everyone was be able to purchase pizza, baked goods and other snacks, drinks, and event T-shirts with an image of Madonna de Ghisallo who’s been dubbed “patron saint of cyclists,” designed by Cycology Gear.   All proceeds are to be used to help make the church’s 142 year-old church building more accessible for the disabled.  Free bicycle tune-ups were also offered by Gearin’ Up Bicycles, and free bicycle accessories and bike-related prizes were provided by Capital Bikeshare and the District Department of Transportation.

We then went on a sponsored group “unity ride” through the city led by Bishop Budde.  The ride had two options, both short and longer, allowing for participation by all, regardless of experience or skill level.  So what started out to be a day of cancelled plans turned into the chance to participate in one of the most unique and enjoyable cycling events in the city, and one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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