EPHRAIM The Temple Riders Association (TRA) spent last weekend in central Utah celebrating 20 years of bike riding and temple work during its "20 and still Cruisin" rally that continued through Wednesday.
Rally Committee member Mary Workman, whose husband acts as director of the TRA, says the group "has good clean fun, meets people, and improves spirituality."
More than 100 TRA members went through endowment sessions in the Manti Temple Saturday morning while others worked outside on the temple grounds.
"There's a camaraderie with old friends," said rally chairman Gary Loesch. "We enjoyed particularly the temple experience. The temple grounds (service) was nice for people who may not be members. That was really special."
Throughout the rally, TRA members traveled in groups to different scenic and historical places in the area. The rides included visits to pioneer cemeteries in Spring City, a cave where the pioneers lived in Manti, Bryce Canyon, Cove Fort, and the Rat Fink Museum in Manti.
Along the way, there was only one imperative stop for all parties. "We stop for ice cream. That's kind of one of our traditions is to have ice cream wherever we go," Workman said. "We're keeping the ice cream industry in business."
Serving in the temple and riding alongside each other bring the riders together. The group had a carnival Monday with live music, cotton candy, snow cones, a dunking booth and a hot air balloon. They also had a formal dance Tuesday where the group was "waltzing, foxtrotting, and jitterbugging," Workman said.
"(The TRA) is close-knit because of our common love for the gospel and temples and our interest in motorcycles," Loesch said. "When a person joins, they automatically have 600 new friends. And they're more than Sunday-go-to-meeting friends, they're true friends."
The group tallied up its worldwide members on Sunday and came out with a total of 762.
Frank Reese and his wife, Catherine, founded the group in 1988 with five other couples who shared the same religious standards and motorcycle pastime.
Reese, now 81, traveled the 1,600 miles with his wife from Oklahoma to Manti to be a part of the rally. He now rides a white three-wheeled motorcycle, which is safer and steadier.
"My bike is white so I can get to heaven faster," Reese said.
The TRA attended a student ward Sunday after having its own fast and testimony meeting Sunday. "We had a fast and testimony meeting that could have gone on for four or five hours," Workman said. "We cut it off at two and a half hours."
On Saturday, Michael McLean entertained and inspired the bikers. "McLean said that he really didn't want the performance to end because he enjoyed the group so much," Loesch said. "He played his newest song and there wasn't a dry eye in the group. it was an incredible experience between him and us."
Deseret News columnist Jerry Johnston spoke to the group on Sunday evening. He mentioned an old commercial for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups where a boy eating peanut butter and another boy eating chocolate collide on a sidewalk. Soon after, they discover that the combination of chocolate and peanut butter makes for a great treat.
Johnston said the group's balance of spirituality and recreation is like peanut butter and chocolate.The rally is a place to find "great friends (and) great ideals in a great place," rider Ted May said.