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Azusa StreetRiders International - The Oneness Apostolic Motorcycle Ministry of Jesus Christ.

This is a story I wrote a couple years ago after riding with some ASR brothers. The whole story came to my mind in the 7 hour ride back home from Maryville NC. (I am not a professional writer)

The parable of the motorcycle ride

This year’s (2013) ALJC National Men’s Conference “Empower” had two pre-conference events scheduled for the men who could arrive early; a golf outing and a motorcycle ride sponsored by the Maryville chapter of the Azusa Streetriders. I recently returned to riding a motorcycle after a 30 year absencehaving last owned a bike in the early 80’s so I was glad to see the ride on the schedule.
The Empower conference was in Maryville Tennessee. I’m very familiar with that area. I had lived in Knoxville for several years before moving to my current home in Sanford North Carolina. The drive between Maryville and Sanford is very scenic so I decided to ride over and back for the conference and get there a day early for the planned ride.
I did have a bit of apprehension about the ride though. Having lived in Tennessee previously I was well aware of the reputation of a very popular motorcycle ride destination near Maryville – “The Tail of the Dragon”. If you have never heard of it Google it – you’ll find it is an 11 mile stretch of highway US 129 on the Tennessee-North Carolina state line that has 318 curves packed into 11 miles of road. It is famous in the region for being an exciting and dangerous place to ride motorcycles.
Bear in mind I haven’t ridden in about 30 years so I don’t consider myself a veteran rider yet – I ride slowly and carefully. In the back of my mind I had a feeling the ride might include tackling “The Dragon”. I wasn’t so sure I needed that much excitement in my life and I had been pondering about it quite a bit.
The ride over to Tennessee was uneventful, if you don’t count the pouring rain I rode through the last hour or so. It wasn’t really a problem, just delayed my arrival a bit. I got to my room, got dried out and headed to dinner with a couple men from my church that had driven over for the conference. During dinner I told them a little about my concerns for the ride if it did in fact include a trip on The Dragon. Bikers can be a particular bunch, riding is dangerous enough without adding additional risk factors – and I didn’t want to be a drag on the group, I’ve only been back on two wheels for about a year.
I set out the next morning and went to the restaurant to meet up with the other riders. Arriving in the parking lot I saw the other bikes; fewer than I expected and no crotch-rocket street bikes. Actually that was a comforting find. I ride a Sportster – I’m out there to cruise, not race. As I mentioned earlier I didn’t want to be a drag on the group, at least I wasn’t going to have to try to keep up with any street racers. As I parked and removed my helmet, I checked out these other bikes. Hmm, these guys were “real” bikers I thought – their bikes showed it – but one of the other bikes was also a Sportster, so I didn’t feel like a total rookie. I went inside and met the guys introducing myself. Yep, these guys were the real deal. You can tell a real biker from a poser – these guys were real bikers. No rookies in this group. Great I thought. I’m going to be the “anchor” in the group. The group included the leader of the local chapter of Azusa Streetriders and another chapter out of state, two other guys and me. The out of state chapter leader was also an ALJC Pastor.
We talked for a while and set out – first stop was the local Harley dealer to get some bulbs for one guy’s running lights. He had a light out and wanted to fix it before the ride.
Arriving at the Harley dealer, we had to wait a few minutes for the store to open. We chatted for a while, I was thinking the whole time these guys are worried about me – “the rookie” but they didn’t say anything. We checked out each other’s bikes, checked out the other bikes in the parking lot and finally got inside to check out the bikes in the store.
While the bulb changing was being completed a group of five other bikers rolled in together. One guy had a Christian themed t-shirt on – he walked over and asked about the Azusa Streetriders patches. The Pastor told him how it was an Apostolic ministry for bikers and we were going out for a ride. We discovered they were in town for the Empower conference also – so we invited them to join us. One guy said they hadn’t signed up for the group ride because they had some apprehension about riding The Dragon in a big group of riders they didn’t know. Wow, those were my concerns exactly – to a T. The Pastor told us not to worry, The Dragon was overhyped and it wasn’t as scary as people said. He gave us a few tips on how to ride it safely and told us not to worry about it, we would all do fine.
With the addition of these five men our group had doubled in size to 10. I could tell just by checking out the bikes of the new riders these guys were experienced also. One guy was riding a beautiful big Victory Vision bike. If you’ve never seen a Victory Vision it is a beautiful bike, large and powerful with modern electronics, highly stylized fairings and bags – it looks like a spaceship on wheels. It is a top of the line bike. Great, I’m still “the rookie”.
We got delayed a bit more as one of the guys in the new group had to fix a couple things on his bike also, including a back tire that had gone flat while we were in the parking lot. We all chipped in to help out and in fact my tire repair kit and zip ties came in handy and helped get his bike ready to roll. I was glad I had included that flat fix kit in my gear.
We gathered up for prayer, one man had a special prayer request for a member of his family – so right there in the parking lot we circled up, the 10 of us, a rag-tag looking group and we had prayer as the other bikers and customers walked past and watched.
We finally struck out on the ride with the Pastor in the lead and in no time we were at the beginning of The Dragon. One or two turns into it and we had to stop. There had been a bad accident and the road was closed temporarily. We waited and I’m thinking “oh dear, this may be worse than I thought”. We got word from the backed up traffic that there had been a bad wreck; Life Flight was on the way for the victim; and then finally that we would be able to start back up soon, so we saddled up and got ready. Just then a flatbed tow truck came by with a Victory Vision on the back. It was torn up pretty badly. The rider had clearly run off the road and wrecked and was surely the person being flown out by helicopter for care. All that power and the tricked-out features of his bike hadn’t saved him. “I’m doomed” I thought at this point.
We got the signal to start up and resumed the trip up The Dragon in single file behind the Pastor. I was tucked in towards the rear of the group. We passed a lot of nice bikes coming in the other direction. This was a busy day on The Dragon. I check my odometer and by now we’re two miles into the run. At this point I’m getting into a groove – not exactly setting any land speed records (that was never my goal!), but not white-knuckled either. Back and forth, back and forth, up and down, tight corners, sweeping turns, a couple extreme switch-backs and before I knew it we had reached the other side. I made it; safe and sound; didn’t even have any problems. My confidence had grown with each curve. I even flashed a V for victory sign to one of the photographers stationed along the route.
We all pulled off at the Deal’s Gap General Store to take a break, chat, snap a few pictures and get souvenirs. Oh yeah – I got the patch and the t-shirt and the cap!
One guy left the group at this point and went back to the conference to do some work. He went back over The Dragon in the opposite direction we just came. I pondered following him – but stayed with the group. We continued on and rode many more miles that day, saw some beautiful scenery and stopped for more fellowship at lunch. It had been a great ride so far, but time was running short so we stuck out in earnest to return to the Maryville church for the Friday evening conference session. With the Pastor in the lead we really rode – wasting no time getting back to the church, just in time to get freshened up a little and get a great seat in the front two rows. All in all it was a great day and a great ride followed by another great Men’s Conference.

You may be thinking – I thought this story was a parable. Well what is a parable? One definition says “a parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”. So was this just a story about a motorcycle ride? Did I miss the spiritual lessons?

Here’s another account of what happened that day with emphasis on the bike ride removed – the same story, from a different perspective.

A group of Apostolic brothers gathered together for a day of fellowship. They faced a dragon in front of them. Remember in the Bible a dragon represents the devil.

One man needed a helping hand. Being brothers - they all pitched in to help. Don’t discount the help you can give someone, it may be just what they need!

Some of the men had doubts about being able to defeat the dragon they were facing that day. Satan wages war in your mind and despite what you may think - you are not facing doubts in life alone!

The Pastor spoke to calm their fears and reassure the men – and then led the way. Follow your Pastor. Listen to what he teaches. He has words of wisdom and re-assurance for you!

They prayed together and struck out on their journey to defeat the dragon. When you face Satan in your life don’t neglect prayer. Brothers bound together in prayer are a mighty force!

The journey was stalled when they saw even the mightiest of earthly armor wasn’t enough for one man to slay this dragon. You cannot defeat the devil with earthly armor alone. You will fail.

They stuck together and slayed that dragon, then they headed straight to church to worship and praise The Lord. When you face the devil and when you defeat him – give God the glory!

Brothers bound together by their faith and the Holy Ghost have much power. Brothers bound together in The Lord are Empowered!

So was this really a story about a bike ride – or something else? Praise the Lord and keep the shiny side up!
Tom Thompson
Very good!
  • October 24, 2015
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Jim Boyle
Yes, very good! I liked it.
  • October 25, 2015
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Micheal Hunt
Awesome loved the lesson
  • February 5, 2016
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Daniel Raymond Floyd
  • January 22, 2017
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