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The biking bishop: one righteous dude

By Amy Makechnie

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Like any family with a father gone long hours at church and work, it wasn't seamless. Serving as bishop requires hours of time and late-night phone calls. It's dealing with broken families, unemployment, hospital visits and attending countless meetings. "It takes a toll and you miss a lot but I will say that the Lord provided me the way to serve," he said. This included a new job that afforded flexibility that his previous one didn't.

After six years, Sansoucie was released from his calling as bishop.

Will this give him more time to ride? He hopes so. He reminisces about a recent trip through upstate New York through the Adirondack Mountains. From Cooperstown up to Syracuse, along Lake Ontario, up to Lake Placid, he says it was "absolutely spectacular," and he's already planning more New England riding trips. "We really have the best of everything – mountains, farmland, ocean, just nice country riding."

These days, Sansoucie rides with and without members of his faith. And when it comes to occupations, there really are no norms. In his small riding group there is a master plumber, policeman, executive salesman, contractor and bio-chemist. "Sometimes people have a preconceived notion about what kind of person ... rides, but in the motorcycling community, there is none of that. You share a common love of the sport and no matter what you ride, from a Harley to a Honda, there is respect and admiration. The line is, ‘He rides, we are like brothers!’"

And that, perhaps, is where the intersection is. Like members of his church, riders come from all walks of life. "I will guarantee you that in almost no other place outside of the gospel, can you walk up to someone and start a conversation without worrying about prejudgments. Some of the nicest folks you will ever meet wear leather."

Of course, he's sometimes the odd man out. He keeps the Sabbath day holy, doesn't drink or smoke. He turns down coffee breaks and has no adorning tattoos. He gets the feeling that most don't know much about the Mormon faith, but "for the most part they respect that I believe in something and stand up for it."

Still, he says it's the members of the church who find his hobby so fascinating. He tells of being a young man and riding into the church parking lot on a 1967 Iron Head Custom Harley, a loud, bare-bones chopper you couldn't ignore. "Members who knew me were not surprised, but others were shocked at my choice of transportation!"

As much as he's evolved and grown, his love for the bike has not waned.

"It's the feeling you get as you glide along through the wind, flying while not leaving the ground. Carving through the corners of a back road with the wind in your face and the rumble of the V-twin pushing you forward is a feeling you don't get tired of."

A biker bishop. Not your typical Mormon?

He sums it up this way: "You can still love the gospel of Jesus Christ and ride a bike. In fact, you can do the Lord's work just a little bit faster!"

Amy Makechnie is a writer from New Hampshire. She hopes her next birthday gift is a pink Harley. She blogs at maisymak.blogspot.com.

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