Emery and Carbon counties will be the home of a chapter of the Temple Riders organization. This group holds motorcycle rides to visit LDS church temples and they also go on other rides to visit scenic parts of the state.
The Temple Riders who began a chapter in Sanpete County tell their story, "It all began two years ago in August 2008 when the Temple Riders held their bi-annual rally at Snow College in Ephraim. That is when the TRA began to develop its relationship with the Manti LDS Temple. The Temple Riders Association or TRA is an organization for people who love to ride big motorcycles and yet adhere to the standards of the LDS Church. "Mormons, temples and motorcycles?" you might say. Yet they all seem to fit and those participating have a fantastic time combining the three.
"On Aug. 12, a representation of the TRA met outside of the Manti Temple for a photo shoot. Because of a recent chapter organization of TRA in the Sanpete/Juab area, there has been a renewed interest in the Manti Temple. Some of the members took in a session at the Temple prior to the photo shoot. After the photo shoot, several participants gathered at the Temple View Lodge, owned and operated by two TRA members, Gary and Janice Carlson, for a pot luck barbecue.
"Some of the goals of TRA are monthly day rides, monthly meetings mostly accompanied by good food, service projects, temple trips as often as possible, and occasionally longer cross country trips like to the Black Hills or a rally such as was held in Boise, Idaho this June. Temple Riders are composed of folks who like to ride big bikes and have fun. Anyone can join Temples Riders for a nominal yearly fee, if they have a road bike and agree to adhere to the standards of the LDS Church when they are with the group. Members and non-members join together for biking fun in a more conservative setting. Temple Riders was originally organized more than 25 years ago by a few couples who wanted to take motorcycle trips with others on a day other than Sunday and who were not part of the rough crowd that is sometimes associated with motorcycles. Today there are hundreds of members spread though out the United States including Hawaii and even some foreign countries like Australia and Japan.
Because of a strong interest in this geographical area, Horseshoe Mountain TRA Chapter was organized this spring. With Paul DeGrey from Spring City as leader of this chapter, the group now boasts of more than three dozen members.
"The TRA is now hoping to organize an additional chapter in the Carbon/Emery area. Their first organizing meeting and meal was held on Aug. 24, in Elmo," said the Sanpete Temple Riders.
Ralph Worthen and his wife Loretta of Ferron are among those wishing to start a chapter of the Temple Riders in the Emery/Carbon county areas. Worthen said, "They have talked me into being the chapter president. We are just getting going. I have been on a few rides. Temple riders don't just ride and go to temples, but they go on a lot of other rides as well. It's not unusual for the Utah County club to bike to Green River and eat at Ray's Tavern and then turn around and ride back.
"We have met some interesting people being involved with the Temple Riders. I believe we have enough riders in our area to form a chapter. You don't have to be an active church member to ride with us. We want everyone to know that. I know there are a lot of people who ride bikes in our area, it's just a matter of getting them organized and riding together. I know one of my teachers Mr. Prettyman rides to school, (Castle Dale Elementary) from Helper each day when the weather is good. Mark Luce also a teacher rides from Ferron to Canyon View each day. Many of our deputies ride bikes including Det. Sgt. Bob Blackburn, Collin and Patty Cox ride and Annette Allen; we are hoping we can interest these people and others in joining our organization.
"The Temple Riders is a great organization there are members worldwide in Japan, Canada, Belgium, South Korea and a chapter in Australia. The Temple Riders meet once a month and meet for a ride once a month. The official website is templeriders.com and you can check there for more information," said Worthen.
Between LDS conference sessions there was a short television program highlighting the temple riders. The founders gave the message you can be a faithful member of the church and still ride motorcycles. Visiting temples adds a spiritual dimension to motorcycle riding. The founders have visited temples in dozens of states and been to 75 temples. The group also conducts firesides for church groups. Many less active and non-LDS people belong to the Temple Riders. The Temple Riders also use motorcycle riding as a missionary tool and pass out Books of Mormon along their way. The oldest member of the Temple Riders is 88 years old.
Worthen said, "We have been on three temple trips on the motorcycles. We went to Monticello, Boise and Manti. Motorcycle riding does mess your hair up and my wife worries about that. We attended one of the firesides the Temple Riders put on, it was called put on the armor of God. It was really good. My wife has enjoyed the trips. Every other year there is a national rally for the Temple Riders. This year it was held in Boise, so we went. We stayed at the Doubletree in Boise. The group had rented the conference room for meetings and took rides around Boise. Each ride has a leader and a tailgunner. A first-aid person also rides with each group. They try to break up the groups so no more than 20 riders are in each group. Large groups are harder to manage. We saw a lot of scenery and met new members and we made some new friendships. We also had a spiritual day on the Sunday. We met in a sacrament meeting at a local chapel. There was a stake president there to preside, but the members of the Temple Riders took care of everything else. Lloyd Newell from the tabernacle choir spoke and it was a great day. They try to plan things so you don't ride on Sundays. They avoid pleasure rides, but will ride to church and things like that.
"After we get our chapter going we will invite riders from other chapters to ride with us as well. It's $18 a year to join and you can access the members only website and you will receive a monthly newsletter. One ride we want to do from here is the Boulder Mountain ride. It is a beautiful ride with a lot of curves that motorcycle riders like. We want to visit the Manti, Monticello, Provo and Mt. Timpanagos temples for a start. Temple Riders love to stop and eat ice cream," said Worthen.
Loretta said at the national rally some of the people went to the temple and groups went and did service projects at the food bank and the boys and girls club. The Temple Riders like to present a positive image and help the communities they ride into as well as their home communities. Most couples ride together, but some of the ladies have their own bikes."
Ralph said, "It's not a cheap hobby, the parts aren't cheap. We are cautious as we ride, but we don't let fear dictate what we do. Don't ride beyond your capacity and at high speeds. On a motorcycle, people just don't see you as well. You need to drive defensively, more so than in a car."
Loretta said she likes the freedom of riding on a bike. You can see more and notice more things. She also likes the fact that there is a camaraderie among motorcycle riders and they wave at each other and have a common bond and interest.
Ralph said he rode his bike to school when it was 12 degrees outside, it's only 11 miles from Ferron and only the outside of his fingers got cold, but most bikes are put away between December and March because of weather conditions. Ralph said he has heated seats and vents that blow warm air on his feet. He has a heavy coat and leather chaps, but riding on snowy roads isn't advised. Ralph never leaves town without his helmet.
Loretta says she feels safe on the back of the motorcycle. She never tries to be a backseat driver. She sits back and enjoys the ride. Loretta said Ralph has become more outgoing since he has become involved in motorcycle riding. She has always wanted to have more friends and more people to do things with and the Temple Riders has enabled the couple to make more friends. "It's been good for us," said Loretta.
Their youngest daughter will be gone in a couple of years and she's glad they are developing their interest in motorcycles now, before the empty nest hits. "We will already have something to do. We've met people from all walks of life. They are real genuine people who have problems just like everyone does," said Loretta.
Ralph mentioned one of the ladies with the Temple Riders is battling cancer for the second time, but she remains a happy person. "It's not a unique group, but it's a good group to be associated with," said Ralph.
Loretta said, "There are nice people everywhere. There was a fundraiser ride for kids the other day and there were all kinds of people there."
To join or find out more about the Temple Riders contact Ralph and Loretta at 749-0601.