Manor church holds "Blessing of the Bikes" to begin cycling season

New Sweden Lutheran Church in Manor has become a favorite rest stop for many central Texan cyclists. 

"I started to hear about what you did as a group and what you raised to take care of people who have needs, and the church is here to commend that and support it," said Rev. Hans Lillejord, with New Sweden Lutheran Church.

Reverend Hans blessed each cyclist to ensure them they stay safe while riding on the country roads of central Texas.

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Cyclists at New Sweden Lutheran Church.

"It's very important when they see riders, we get the same respect they give others and realize this is someone brother, sister mother, uncle, so the blessing of the bike shows the community supports the riders out in these country roads," said cyclist Camille Baptiste.

Most of these cyclists ride long distances to also raise awareness and funds for organizations that are important to them.

"For the MS 150 ride last year we ended up raising 8 million dollars together as far as the whole campaign," said cyclist Matt Burkhard. "Our group ended up raising $27 thousand and we had 14 riders."

Matt Burkhard has been doing these rides for years and is excited to see the community grow every year.

"The best thing about it, I guess, is with the cycling community you get to meet people you wouldn't meet otherwise," said Buckhard. "We all have something in common, and you'll never know that person without the fundraising, and once you do one fundraising ride you starting other fundraising rides with other people."

The Hill Country Ride for AIDS is getting ready for their next fundraiser next week. They hope to raise money for the local HIV and AIDS service organizations.

"We have everything from 12 miles to 90 miles and everything in between," said Alissa Magrum. "It's not a race, so it's a ride, so our people go out and ride whatever is in their ability."