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Motorcycle safety rally attracts hundreds in Suffolk

Bikers arrive at the H. Lee Dennison Building

Bikers arrive at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge on Sunday morning, April 12, 2015, where their motorcycles were blessed. Credit: James Carbone

It's not just the potholes Long Island motorcycle riders have to worry about.

"You've got to avoid the potholes and avoid the cars swerving to avoid the potholes," Warren Schlicker, 62, of Lake Grove, said Sunday in Hauppauge, where hundreds gathered to promote motorcycle safety.

More than 400 bikers and another 200 to 300 passengers rumbled into the H. Lee Dennison Building county parking lot Sunday for the sixth annual event held by Long Island ABATE -- American Bikers for Awareness, Training & Education -- and Full Throttle Magazine.

Jim Barr, president of Long Island ABATE, said the mission of the event is twofold -- to tell bikers to ride safely and to remind other drivers to be on the lookout for motorcycles.

"This event is strictly for safety and awareness," he said.

Dozens of riders pulled up to be blessed by members of Bikers for Christ, a ministry whose members prayed over riders and bikes for safety.

"People say they haven't been in church for years. But that doesn't mean anything," said Christina Malczynski, 50, of Holtsville.

The prayer she says starts: "May God bless you and keep you safe on this machine. May you meet and encounter the risen Lord in your travels, in the freedom of the open roads, the fellowship of other bikers and in each person you meet."

The event raised more than $10,000 from cyclists' entry fees, to be used for safety and awareness campaigns, including signs and public service ads, Barr said.

Pete Jepson, 68, of East Moriches and a member of Patriot Guard Riders, which provides escorts for military funerals, said, "You have to be a more defensive driver on a bike than a car." But on a motorcycle, you can appreciate scenery.

Schlicker said even with the danger, he loves riding. "It's the freedom. There's nothing there, but," -- he spread his arms -- "life. You know, it's a great feeling."

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