In the rolling hills of south-central Wisconsin, bikers training for endurance races whiz just a few feet from the doors of Vermont Lutheran Church, Black Earth. The area's biking hot spot has not come without tension, however, as residents complain of litter and road closures, said Gaila Olsen, church member and avid biker.
Because the church is "at the heart of bicycling nirvana and sometimes in the crossfire between bikers and drivers," Olsen's idea to invite both sides to a pancake breakfast was a measure in peacemaking.
Chad Christensen (below), pastor of Vermont, blessed the bikes and told the cyclists, "What you are doing is a healthy endeavor, and we hope God watches over you during this activity." He gave thanks for the simple beauty of the bicycle and prayed for the victims of road rage and bike theft.
Though the breakfast was free, attendees contributed funds that went to a nonprofit organization called DreamBikes, a bike shop in nearby Madison that recruits, employs and trains teens and young adults from the local Boys and Girls Club.
The church has made the bike blessing an annual spring event, but has also blessed bikes in September.
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