The question of what Jesus would ride will obviously never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction. The faithful of all brands would welcome the common bond with the Savior, and who wouldn’t savor a ride with a guy who died and came back, right? Not to mention the son of God.
But the question of where He would ride arrived on the eve of our annual spring group ride, which, as if by prophecy, fell this year on Easter weekend. So our previously unnamed congregation of road-worn elders gained the title of Geezers for Jesus. And by consensus it was clear that, should He happen to show up on the central coast of California, Jesus of Nazareth would clearly choose the inland route between the coast ranges – Highway 25 north from San Miguel to Hollister, 100 miles of motorcycling majesty. Not a King’s Highway perhaps, but a pastoral byway for all the peaceful pilgrims on a mission from God. Or Buddha, Muhammad, Ra, Shiva or the deity of one’s choosing.
This begat the question of what He would ride if He did appear. I had seen The Jesus Bike years ago at Sturgis, but doubted it might still be available. We agreed that we would simply draw straws to see who would carry Him as a passenger. Options were kept open. Maybe He’ll call ahead.
And His destination, like ours, would obviously be the Catholic mission at San Juan Bautista. One of Father Junipero Serra’s nine missions, the adobe chapel would host the Easter mass for the congregation of the mostly Mexican-Americans, some with generational roots here going back three centuries. But first we were keen to show the Prince of Peace our newest national park, The Pinnacles, and its complex jumble of geology, flora and fauna. The latter comprised largely of industrious ground squirrels, whose work is truly holey.
Downtown San Juan Bautista is a three-block stretch of what could still pass for a 19th-century farm town. While nearby Hollister has capitalized on the enduring mythology of The Wild Ones movie, it’s now an economic hub and modern city. San Juan Bautista still looks like a town that Johnny and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would visit. And, as if on cue on this Saturday night, the row of Harleys takes up half the town on both sides of the street. The two popular saloons, Daisy’s and Mom & Pop’s, are packed all night. Loud music and dancing ensue. There is some drinking, but no violence is reported.
We conclude, after some period of participating in the festivities, that if Jesus were here, and that if He did actually ride a Harley, He might well be right here, rockin’ on the bass. Maybe He was, for all we know.
After Easter, headed home, Jesus would surely go for a ride through Big Sur, first stopping by the home of poet Robinson Jeffers, who built his house of stone on the water’s edge at Carmel. He wrote,
Though one at the end of the age and
far off from this place
Should meet my presence in a poem,
The ghost would not care but be here, long sunset shadow
in the seams of the granite, and forgotten
The flesh, a spirit for the stone.
So, at least for central California, this is a recommended loop for riders one and all. Of course we have to be realistic; Jesus may have ridden it years ago, on a 1941 Indian. But if He did happen to be in the neighborhood, we’d be glad to give Him a look. After all, we are blessed in the amount of remaining geography that is accessible on two wheels, and that much of it is forever resistant to “development.” Whether it remains that way, we can only pray. (And write letters when necessary.)
Ride in peace. Amen.