It's a measure of the brotherhood that makes motorcycling what it is, that there were 219 motorcycles standing outside the Bikers Church in Brackenfell, north of Cape Town, on Sunday, 4 November as Pastor George Lehman reminded their riders, pillions and families that the annual memorial service for bikers who'd died in the past year was just that - a time to remember, and to lend courage to those left behind.
We often speak, he said, of laying someone to rest. Let them rest, he urged, and be at peace with their memory. Remember the good times and encourage those grieving for loved ones to do the same. If they could speak to us, he said, their message would be: “Be at rest.”
A SINGLE CANDLE
Often we miss God's comfort, he said, because we are too busy grieving. We can encourage those in sorrow but God can bring comfort. He doesn't expect us to make it on our own, but God can carry us through any grief - if we let him.
Two motorcycles rode slowly down the aisles of the packed church, bearing the plaques that carried the names of Capetonian bikers lost over the years, and were parked in front of the altar, where there burned a single candle to remind us that “in the midst of death there is life”.
Motorcyclists' Association of the Western Cape president Bruce Reynolds read out the names of the riders killed on the roads during the past year as family members, club members and friends came up to stand in a circle for the blessing. Reynolds reminded us that we are each responsible for how we live, and how we ride. Take responsibility for yourself, he urged.
At the close of the service the bikes with the plaques were ridden back down the aisles under an honour guard of helmets, in almost absolute silence - all you could hear was the humming of two low-revving engines.
It was an eerie, oddly peaceful moment, one that stayed with the riders as they went out to their machines, gleaming in the early summer sun, and went quietly away, with little of the usual bravado and revving that characterises biker gatherings.