Every year, Uke’s Harley Davidson hosts the Blessing of the Bikes ride. Bikers from all over the Chicago / Milwaukee corridor attend this event. The ride begins at Uke’s Harley Davidson in Kenosha, WI and ends at Calvary Congregational Church in Twin Lakes, WI. I was invited to ride on the back of Keith Ulicki’s Harley for the event. Keith is the owner of Uke’s Harley Davidson along with his wife Nanc.
Harley riders waiting for the annual Blessing of the Bikes ride in the staging area at Uke’s Harley Davidson in Kenosha, WI. Every spring, hundreds of bikers join the ride to a church where they receive a blessing from a pastor for a safe riding season.
I was invited to ride along on the back seat of Keith Ulicki’s Harley for the Blessing of the Bikes event. Keith is the owner of Uke’s Harley Davidson. He took over ownership from his father Frank who started Uke’s in 1930.
Over 300 riders took part in the Blessing of the Bikes ride this year. Riders join in from all over the Chicago / Milwaukee corridor. The ride lasts between 45 minutes to an hour. The ride travels at a steady pace while receiving a police escort.
Harley riders come from all walks of life – bankers, doctors, lawyers and many more. Keith Ulicki was speeding up and slowing down allowing me to get some photos of the bikers during the trip. He asked me if I wanted to get a photo of this couple and I said “yes.” He slowed down a little allowing me to capture this enduring moment.
I was talking with various riders and everyone spoke of how the group is an extended family that not only comes to the aid of each other in times of need but also donates time to various local charities. Harley Davidson riders are extremely supportive of keeping POW / MIA’s in the collective conscious.
The Blessing of the Bikes ride is a huge undertaking for Uke’s. They coordinate with local police and fire departments to assist in blocking intersections and directing traffic thus allowing the riders to travel unimpeded. Uke’s also advertises the event alerting the public so they know the event is happening. I will say this, they have a great system in place and the ride went smooth.
During our ride is when I found out Uke’s advertises the event. Along the route we saw families sitting in the back of vans or standing along the curb waving at the parade of bikes. As we entered this small town, I saw this lovely woman holding up this sign and captured the essence of small town America and the support from those wanting the riders to enjoy a safe riding season.
This thought came to mind – ‘how would this photo turn out.’ I took a photo of the back of Keith’s helmet. This is the result. I was snug as a bug in a rug sitting in the backseat of his motorcycle. Thank you Keith Ulicki for a ride of a lifetime.
Bikers being directed into the church parking lot in Twin Lakes, WI. The Blessings of the Bikes ride was started after a biker was killed by a drunk driver. The widow got the event started and continued to ride every year until she suffered the same fate. The riders spoke of how they ride defensively – constantly on the lookout of their surroundings while on the road.
Keith Ulicki (left) standing next to his wife Nanc. Nanc was the one who invited me on the ride after I went out to cover their inaugural ride of the season and the Frank Ulicki memorial ride a month prior to the Blessings event. They provided me with a jacket and helmet for the day.
Pastor Judy providing the blessing and words of encouragement for a safe and defensive riding season. Her congregation volunteered by setting up a table for drinks and snacks for everyone. I have to say, they provided some tasty cookies.
The blessing by Pastor Judy. I was told the event can have anywhere from 600 – 1000 bikers. This year’s event had just over 300. Some of the bikers speculated that the low turn-out was due to it being a cold day. If there were 600 – 1000 bikes for the event, the parking lot and street would have been jammed with bikes.