Last year I covered the full event for Mirboo North’s first Blessing of the Bikes, establishing what the Blessing of the Bikes was all about; however, this year I thought I’d do wider coverage of the people and their bikes, and the bikes themselves, compared to what I did last year. It turned out to be a huge event this year, with significantly greater numbers and a much greater variety of attendees than last year. The weather was also excellent, but storm clouds were looming and by around 1:30 pm, rain was starting to fall.
Anyway, the change in weather was much later in the day and, like last year, I decided to turn up early to cover things from the start. I must say that it was ironic that the first person I wanted to photograph also featured in last year’s story, Big Mo from Bairnsdale. In fact all the people that I approached this year came from around the region, though I understand that there were people from as far afield as Western Australia. It’s a pity that I couldn’t touch base with any of the more distant travellers and give them some coverage as well.
What I found really great was the fact that some very old bikes were ridden here, though not too great a distance, as Andrew from Morwell explained; in his case, the Enfield wasn’t one that he’d want to ride any significant distance, as it could be just too much for the old girl. That said, it was excellent to see old war horses and others still able to do the miles when called for duty.
As the morning wore on, the trickle of riders coming to town grew into a veritable flood, with individuals and group after group coming in. The coordination was much better this year and the flow of traffic was far smoother than last year, forewarned about the potential numbers was forearmed. Some came with a police escort, perhaps by chance only, as other groups were without escort.
Not only do the bikes display their individual characteristic, that’s also reflected in their riders as well. No two are alike and there’s far more variation to style and substance than you’ll ever find in a similar car event.
The main street of Mirboo North was soon well and truly filled with bikes (I could not find a spot high enough to get a line down the entire main street) and the ever expanding numbers easily doubled that of last year. From all the discussions that I had with many visitors, everyone thought that the Blessing of the Bikes was a great idea; something different and well worth taking the effort to attend.
For 2015, the Blessing of the Bikes was a huge success, significantly larger than last year and, by all accounts, it looks like it’s going to be a regular feature on the calendar for the foreseeable future. And why not, it’s something that follows the AFL Grand Final and precedes the motor racing calendars that are part of the coming month as well. So it slots in nicely.
Now I deliberately held off posting this story earlier, as the Blessing of the Bikes preceded the Barry Sheene Tribute Ride, which travelled through Mirboo North the following Thursday. The tribute ride is a major part of the start of Moto GP season and I wanted to include some coverage of the riders as they went through Mirboo North, as I missed it last year. All I took was a video, as there was no point in taking stills and my apologies for any jitters, as I ended up hand-holding for the entire time.
Because of the large number of photos I took this year to cover specific aspects of the event, I’ve decided to split the story into two segments. The first is about the people and their bikes and the second will be about the bikes on their own.
Sharp eyed readers may note that last year I titled my article the ‘Blessing of the Bike’, but this year it’s become the ‘Blessing of the Bikes’. Last year’s flyer called it the ‘Blessing of the Bike’ and this year it’s a more appropriate ‘Blessing of the Bikes’.
Update: Rev John McMahon posted a note on the Inline Cafe Facebook page: Inline4Cafe and I’m absolutely gobsmacked. I’ve worked in the news industry for many years and have never heard of such a thing as Rev McMahon described. What Marcel, Sabine and others have done is absolutely central to the event and their efforts simply cannot and should not be ignored. And what’s worse, such a thing can inadvertently reflect poorly on the township itself, making it appear petty and insular, which is far from what the Mirboo North community is about.