It was a beautiful day for a bike ride.

By Gus Bode

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride.

It was a beautiful day to bless the bikes.

More than 3,300 motorcyclists and bicyclists went to Bald Knob Cross Sunday, jump starting the biking season with a reminder of safety.


There’s nothing like the feeling of the wind in your hair, and the freedom that comes with sunshine, the open road and riding a motorcycle at 65 miles per hour. But there’s also nothing like the possible injuries that can come from motorcycle riding, especially for those without training.

Southern Illinois is a great place to ride. With hills and green everywhere, it’s tempting to hit the open road for a day on a bike. Illinois is one of four states that do not have mandatory helmet laws, making it an option for riders.

Of course, it’s your head.

According to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, in 2001, helmets saved the lives of 674 Illinois motorcyclists, and could have saved 444 more. Motorcycle helmets are estimated to be 29 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.

Summer is the time when people are out doing things. From motorcyclists to bicyclists to pedestrians to hikers and other forms of recreation, people are out, about and doing. Safety should always be a concern. Sunday’s bike rally at Bald Knob is an event that’s been taking place for 11 years, and people who attend do so because it’s a little different than the usual biker party. With no alcohol and a family atmosphere, the festival focuses on the links formed among those who ride.

Even if you’re a car driver, awareness of motorcyclists is what can make a difference. SIUC even offers a free weekend motorcycle rider program that teaches people to ride safely. According to its web page, “non-motorcyclists can benefit from these courses by learning on a first-hand basis what a motorcyclist experiences and the necessity for developing respect for all vehicles on the highway.”

So bless those who started this rally, bless those who attend and acknowledge that although the hobby can be risky, there are ways to make it safer. Bless those who respect the road and respect all types of people riding, walking or biking on it.


With that in mind, those beautiful biking days won’t be marred by ugly biking accidents.

For more information about the SIUC motorcycle rider program, visit