HARLEY Davidson riders enjoyed an ‘amazing experience’ as they rode across Europe to be blessed by the Pope.
Lisa Newnham and Stephen Foster, from Chichester, took part in the ride with their friends, Simon and Ruth Mariner, from Selsey, to mark the 110th anniversary of Harley Davidson.
The event saw hundreds of thousands of riders descend on Rome where they were blessed by Pope Francis.
Lisa and Stephen found out about the ride from Simon, a member of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G).
“It was amazing, the scenery we saw along the way and just the friendliness of everyone we met,” said Lisa.
“It was just such an adventure. Some days were really long and tiring but it was just so exciting.
“We have never done anything like this before.”
Stephen has been riding motorbikes since he was 17 years old but this was the furthest he had ridden.
“It is a long way but it was good,” he said.
“After about every two hours you have to stop because you get a bit numb on the bike but we went through some lovely places.
“I have driven through Europe for many years in hire cars for work but doing it on two wheels is very different.”
During the trip, the couples joined other Harley riders at the Harley Village, in Ostia, for an anniversary party where H.O.G. had organised exhibitions and tours for the riders.
On the Sunday, Pope Francis blessed hundreds of Harley Davidsons, riding past in his open-top car to the rumble of engines.
Lisa and Stephen also enjoyed an extra trip to the Vatican on the Friday of their trip.
Out of the thousands of riders taking part in the 110th-anniversary celebrations, 2,000 were chosen by lottery to attend an early-morning mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
“That was an experience,” said Lisa. “The first challenge was actually getting into the Vatican.
“We got there for the 8am mass, that was very special.”
Summing up their ten-day tour, Lisa said: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”