Blessing of the Bikes

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Sevier County (WVLT) -- Harleys, tattoos, frayed leather and God. It may sound as if it's an unlikely combination, but for many East Tennessee bikers, it's only natural.

On Sunday, bikers from all over the region set their kick stands for the 9th Annual Smoky Mountain Blessing of the Bikes.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy tells us how the blessing inspired one biker to give up his troubled ways.

Bradley Shupe's had it tough.

"Drugs, alcohol, just making the wrong decisions, Shupe said.

It was his bike that helped him find a way out.

"Since I turned my life over to the Lord, things are better now," Shupe said.

Bradley found the Lord at last year's Blessing of the Bikes. Today, just a year later, he was baptized in Douglas Lake, to the cheers of his fellow bikers.

"The water was cold, but the sun came out and it was great," Shupe said.

Nearly 100 bikers from East Tennessee and Virginia revved up their engines for this year's faithful gathering at the Douglas Dam overlook

"It's to pray for every-ones safety," said Pastor Douglas Mills about the event, "It's the beginning of the new riding season."

Pastor Douglas Mills led the bikers in outdoor worship and their bikes make it clear, they are buddies to Jesus.

"This group of people and a lot of people on motorcycles you'll find are the most giving and the most caring," said Jim White who is a member of the Shiloh Riders, "they'll do anything in the world for you."

And they're all here for one thing.

"Fellowship," White said, "Christian fellowship."

Bike by bike, each rider gets a blessing.

"May the road always be smooth," said Pastor Ty Harrison of the United Methodist Church during the blessing. "May the wind always be at your back. May the sun always shine on your face. May the rain fall still on your fields. Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you and his machine in the palm of his hands."

All the bikers today got a special copy of the New Testament titled "Hope for the Highway". They also got a sticker showing they were blessed.

For Shupe, it's strength to keep going.

"I feel blessed," he said.

Many of the bikers rode from Hillsville, near Virginia Tech. Before the blessing, they marked a moment of silence for the 33 students and faculty who died in last month's shooting.

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