Blessing founder and organizer Glen Goldstein characterizes the welcome he received when he first approached the pastor with the idea for a bike blessing: “You have a home here.” And over the years, the service has grown to include as many as 500 cyclists and is one of the few events for which the cathedral’s giant bronze doors have opened. Glen’s brainchild actually came from a newspaper article his mom had mailed him about motorcyclists holding a similar event. He summarizes the blessings conception as, “Cool things happen if you ask,” and tells how the bishop, who would jog the cathedral on rainy days, suggested they bring the bikes right up the front stairs and inside the main cathedral for the anointment. Finally, some respect!
Tourists of every flag wander and mingle during the ceremony and a choir was rehearsing in the chapel, but for the moment, the mighty Cathedral is given over to urban biking and the risks and rewards that come with it. Bike bells ring again and serve as hosanna for this highly non-denominational, non-traditional service. Actually, if you’re patient, you can ride around no-handed inside the largest church building in the U.S.
Saturday April 30th was not particularly warm, but it was also the day before the Five Boro Bike Tour and the unofficial beginning of Bike Month, so a good crowd was expected. Around 9 am, the “tribes” began to gather on the cathedral steps. Baskets of croissants and danishes were passed around. Parents with kids in their childseats, tattooed fixies, and lots of lycra filled the steps by 9:30, about 300 helmeted pilgrims