KENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENT
TWIN LAKES — For those who ride, Saturday’s 20th annual Kenosha Harley Owners Group bike blessing was about more than safe travels.
“Bike blessing is a reminder that these guys are all family,” said James “Gym” Fry, of Wildwood, Ill. “You get on the bike, and that’s the common denominator.
Fry said he may only see some of his fellow riders once or twice a year, he said. “(But) if I see them on the side of the road, I’m going to pull over and make sure they’re OK.”
Fry was the road captain Saturday’s 20th annual event, so it was literally his responsibility to pull over if someone was on the side of the road, which he did for a fellow rider’s flat tire about a mile into the ride.
The history behind the blessing, no doubt, has played a role in the themes that still run deep 20 years on.
Kevin Ulicki, the son of Frank “Uke” Ulicki, and owner of Uke’s Harley Davidson, where the ride begins each year, remembers fondly his old friends Dottie and Ron Young. It was Dottie’s idea to do a bike blessing.
Ron was a longtime rider. A drunken driver killed him while he was riding to Uke’s to pick up a new bike.
It wasn’t long after, missing her Harley family, that Dottie decided to start riding. Dottie, who was the organist at Calvary Congressional Church in Twin Lakes, proposed having the blessing there.
“I said, ‘That’s perfect a ride from Kenosha to Twin Lakes,’” Ulicki said. “It’s always nice on a motorcycle to get out on a county ride.”
But, in a tragedy Ulicki said is hard to imagine, a drunken driver too later killed Dottie while she was on a morning ride.
Kevin Klee, of Racine, director of the local HOG chapter, said he holds dearly to the sense of community that got Dottie riding for the first time after her husband’s death.
“It becomes a family,” he said of the column of riders bestriding Harleys on their way to pray for safe rides and open road. “It’s a good way to start out the year.”
It’s something to hear, Fry said, when 200 motorcycles roar to life and go thundering down the road. It’s what Ulicki called “the ultimate.” It’s a feeling they can’t describe, however hard they try.
At the church, the motors silenced. The Rev. Judy Wang, in her 16th year leading the blessing, opened it with some Route-66 word games, followed by an apt reading of Psalm 66.
“Bless our God, o’ people, give God a thunderous welcome,” she said, “Didn’t he set us on the road to life?”
The crowd took a moment to remember the departed since last year’s blessing. Dottie Young was mentioned.
There was a prayer, followed by a low, humming amen that issued as one from the crowd.