To say I was excited about the Christian Motorcyclists Association's annual Run for the Son ride this year was an understatement. Anticipation for the run, which was Saturday, began about mid-week, when I saw the weather was supposed to be sunny and in the 70s. Even better news - my girlfriend, Anna, got a babysitter for her son, so she would be able to ride with me! On Friday, I got my bike ready: I washed it, gave the tins a quick polish and installed a luggage rack and roll bag, which would be perfect for a day trip. I also packed a lunch and essentials like sunscreen, digital camera and handy wipes.
This time, I was actually prepared the morning of the ride and was able to just hop on the bike without the stress of wondering if I would forget to bring something, or if I would be late. I rode to the commuter parking lot on Route 102 in North Kingstown, where Anna was waiting, and we were joined by my CMA/Romans 8 Riders brother Duke for the ride up to our first rendezvous point, the Dunkin Donuts at routes 6 and 102 in Scituate. This would be Anna's first time riding on the highway, but it was smooth sailing since traffic was light on the highway around 8:30 a.m.
In Scituate, we stopped for gas and coffee, and joined nine other Romans 8 Riders, plus a few guests. From there, we rode into nearby Connecticut to rendezvous with CMA members from the Healing Light chapter, plus a few more guests. By this time, around 10:30, the weather was warm enough for me to shed my leather jacket. Healing Light president Stan Winman gave a safety briefing before the ride. Since this was the first big group ride of the season, Stan urged riders to be extra careful because they might be a bit rusty from having not ridden since last year (actually, he used the term "cobwebs"). There were a few glitches early into the ride - the rider in front of me stalled his bike, forcing me to stop short. Another rider in the group disrupted the pack a short time later. After he caught up to us at a light, he said he had problems putting his bike into first gear.
Eventually, things settled down a bit, although it seemed that at least one of the guest riders had little experience riding in a large group. We CMA riders always ride in a two-row, staggered formation, but one of the guest riders in front of me rode smack in the middle of the lane.
Our destination for the ride was the Living Stone Foundation in Leominster, Mass. Most of our route consisted of secondary roads through small towns and villages, although to get through Worcester, we rode on Interstate 290. Riding highways through cities is some of the most challenging (and dangerous) riding motorcyclists will face, especially in a group. Cars exiting or entering the highway often cut into or through the pack, and at one point, I was glad I had the power of a Big Twin Harley to catch up to the other riders who had gotten separated from us. We even had a female motorcyclist (in full leathers) cut through our pack, which was a first experience for me. What's worse, this motorcyclist lost several papers from one of her saddlebags. It was like riding through rather large confetti. Then I saw a pencil fly out of her bag and roll onto the highway as she crossed in front of me. Math was never my best subject in school, but I'm pretty sure a number 2 pencil, plus my skinny 21" front wheel at 60 mph on a curve, equals a good recipe for disaster. Fortunately, my tire missed the pencil, and that woman made her exit. We were back on secondary roads for the remainder of the way, with only one extremely sharp curve, immediately followed by a very steep hill, to keep us on our toes.
To me, the Living Stone Foundation is like a piece of heaven tucked into the woods. It is the home of Bob Tellier, who retired from a teaching career in 1981 and, while building a stone fireplace and chimney on his house over the next few years, had a spiritual experience and became a born-again Christian.
"My mission is to carve the Word of God in stone," Tellier told our group after we arrived. "This is about one man - Jesus." Tellier hired a monument maker to help with his first project, and had the man teach him the art of stone carving
After visiting Jerusalem in 1987, Tellier began construction on his next big project - an elaborate stone structure, which he called a temple, dedicated to Jesus Christ. A giant stone pillar was erected next to the temple in 2001. Dozens of smaller stones carved with Scripture from both old and new testaments in the Bible, line a wooded trail behind the property, which became a nonprofit organization in 2000.
According to the foundation's web site, 90 percent of the stones are quarry rejects. "There's no way I could afford to buy this stone," Tellier said, adding that God has also provided him with the resources to transport the stones.
Our group walked the grounds, took photos and enjoyed a peaceful retreat. On the way back from Living Stone, the group split up. Some rode to a restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner, while others rode home. Anna and I rode back with Pastor Joe and his wife, Petra. We stopped for gas in Webster, Mass., and then Joe's motorcycle, a 1992 Harley FXR, would not start. Another small group of motorcyclists tried to help us, and after attempts to push-start the FXR didn't work, a gas station employee got a booster cable set with battery pack. Joe found a loose battery cable, and after tightening the cable, the jump-start worked and we were back on the road. We followed Joe and Petra into northwestern Rhode Island through many secondary country roads, which was a much-welcome break from the hair-raising highway riding earlier.