Bikers rode hundreds of kilometers in Mexico to have their motorcycles blessed and to pay homage to the Our Lady of the Favor, whom they consider their patroness.

Coming from several places around Mexico and the United States, more than 40,000 bikers, according to authorities' estimates, roared into the small town of Hostotipaquillo in the western state of Jalisco to celebrate their annual gathering, which began with a Mass.

The get-together has taken place the third Sunday in January for the past 14 years, promoted by the leader of one of the many motorcycle clubs.

Septuagenarian Guillermo Sandoval told Efe that he rode for six hours from his native Colima in eastern Mexico to "carry the image" of Our Lady.

"Over the past five years it has twice been my turn to carry her and I come for that, our first ride here is always for that and it brings everyone good luck," he said minutes before carrying the image of the Virgin on his motorcycle.

The narrow highway leading to the village of around 3,500 inhabitants had been filled since Saturday night with the roaring motors of all kinds of motorcycles.

The streets were festively prepared to receive the bikers and their families with food stalls, colorful paper decorations and fireworks.

The visitors' leather jackets, dark pants, sunglasses and skull-printed do rags on their heads seemed a little too rough and out of place among the conservative little homes with religious symbols on their doors and windows.

The powerful bikes had just one purpose and that was to drive up to the parish church, pick up the image of Our Lady and carry it to a soccer field where a Mass was said.

With the arrival of the pilgrims, the field became a fair at which many took the occasion to buy motorcycle accessories, grab a bite to eat and rest after their long rides.

"I'm not much of a believer but I like to come every year to get together with my friends," biker Javier Guerrero said.

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