The call of the open road draws thousands of motorcyclists onto Alaskan highways every year.


“We like to say four wheels will move your body, but two wheels will move your soul,” said Greg Porter, president of the Arctic Apostles.


For many riders, like Porter, the season starts with a gathering of friends and a prayer circle at the Bike Blessing on the Delany Park Strip in Anchorage.


More than 1,000 people turned out for the annual event put on by ABATE, Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education.


“Almost no one leaves here without getting their bike blessed, having someone put their hands on you and your motorcycle and prayer a divine protection for them,” Porter said.


Marlan Shoenleben has been blessing bikes for years. As a rider himself and a pastor for the Bikers Life Church, he lends a spiritual hand to those who want it.


“We pray for the bikes, keep them running, keep them going straight and also for the bikers,” Schoenleben said. “There’s a lot of bikers who want prayer because we need that extra help and God’s out there to do it.”


The Bike Blessing also reminds riders who important it is to stay safe. According to the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles there are more than 32,000 registered motorcycle riders in the state. Almost every year at least one of them dies in a crash.


“Everyone feels that when there’s a motorcyclist down,” Porter said. “Tragedy can happen because someone looks away for a minute. Distracted driving, texting and driving in a car.”


For Schoenleben safety means both drivers and bikers are doing their part to share the road.


“If people are willing to watch out for us and we drive like we should and watch out for them, a lot less accidents are going to happen,” he said.


Looking out for themselves and others to ensure everyone makes it home at the end of their ride.


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