Legion Riders hold blessing, benefit ride

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Saturday’s Bike Blessing drew about 60 riders to American Legion Post 90 Saturday. Most of them continued with the Legion Riders’ Fun Run to spots throughout the Keweenaw.

LAKE LINDEN — “May God bless you and keep you safe on your bike. May you encounter the risen Lord in your travels, and the freedom of the open road, and the fellowship of other bikers and each person you meet.”

Against the threats of harsh weather, bad roads and oblivious texters, bikers need some protection.

The Legion Riders secured that Saturday morning with the annual Bike Blessing, followed by a Fun Run taking them throughout the Keweenaw.

“About every region has a blessing,” said Lonnie Codere, a charter member of the club. “It’s just part of the psyche of bikers.”

Membership in the Legion Riders is around 23, said Legion Riders director Jim Regis. Friends swelled the attendance at Saturday’s blessing to about 60 bikes.

Gail Kotajarvi-Gerard has delivered the blessing for three years. Most years, she rides with her husband.

“This year I can’t,” she said. “My son’s graduating, so I have a graduation party today.”

After the blessing, the group rode out to bars in South Range, Phoenix and Gay.

One of the original members, Alex DeForge, has been riding since he was a teen. He’s hit 48 states, as well as Mexico and Canada. Now 83, DeForge still loves his bike.

“When you jump on there, it just does something to you,” he said.

He swapped tales of favorite rides with Codere, talking about routes form Florida to Washington.

A professional truck driver, Codere can’t even stand getting in his pickup when he returns home. But he can’t wait to hop on his motorcycle.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “You either love it or you don’t. There’s no in between.”

The blessing is free, but participants in Saturday’s ride pay a $20 entry fee. Money raised throughout the year goes toward those in need, whether for veterans’ funerals or a rider recovering from a crash. In the fall, the Legion holds another Fun Run in honor of late member Tony Beach, who taught at Calumet. Each year, the Legion Riders give two $500 scholarships for Calumet’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

“Those are our future leaders, so we thought it’d be a good idea,” Codere said.


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