We’re no Sons of An­ar­chy or Hell’s An­gels

Bangor Mail - - News - Bran­wen Jones

MO­TOR­CY­CLING cul­ture may bring to mind images of Hells An­gels and the hit TV show Sons of An­ar­chy.

Their wide­spread pop­u­lar­ity in main­stream me­dia has seen bik­ers un­fairly con­nected to or­gan­ised crime and gang cul­ture.

In re­al­ity, how­ever, life in a mo­tor­cy­cle club is far from the clichés per­pe­trated by Hol­ly­wood.

Y Blei­d­di­aid Mo­tor­cy­cle Club, lo­cally known as Y Blei­d­diad (which means ‘The Wolves’ in Welsh) is a case in point.

Ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dent and sec­re­tary of the Gwynedd mo­tor­cy­cle club, Colin Bai­ley and Gra­ham Gourlay, shows such as Sons of An­ar­chy have had an im­pact on peo­ple’s per­cep­tion of their club to an ex­tent.

“You’ll of­ten find that some peo­ple are a bit wary of us,” Gra­ham said.

“And I think that’s due to Sons of An­ar­chy.

“To me, that show was a joke – it drama­tised and glo­ri­fied ev­ery­thing when in re­al­ity it’s noth­ing like that.

“We have lives out­side of the club – we have jobs, fam­i­lies and other pas­sions.

“We’re good peo­ple.” Orig­i­nally from County Mayo in Ire­land, Gra­ham be­came a mem­ber of Y Blei­d­di­aid Mo­tor­cy­cle Club two years ago, whereas Colin, who lives in Tre­for in An­gle­sey, has been a mem­ber for 15 years.

Y Blei­d­di­aid was founded in Dyf­fryn Nantlle in 1983 by Iago Mur­phy, and is amongst the old­est sur­viv­ing tra­di­tional mo­tor­cy­cle clubs in Wales. For many years, Y Blei­d­di­aid were the only Welsh lan­guage mo­tor­cy­cle club in North Wales, but has since wel­comed mem­bers from many parts of the UK and Ire­land.

Its mem­bers wear “cuts”, which are denim jack­ets with the sleeves cut off, and the piece of cloth­ing serves as a can­vas for their ‘patches’, which are unique to the club and to ev­ery mem­ber.

They cur­rently have 13 mem­bers and a few “hangaround­s” as Gra­ham ex­plained fur­ther.

“It takes time to join the club,” he said.

“Hangaround­s are peo­ple that have in­tro­duced them­selves to the club with an in­ten­tion to join af­ter we’ve all got to know them bet­ter,” he said.

“Our club mem­ber­ship has a long-es­tab­lished in­ter­nal hi­er­ar­chy; we have a pres­i­dent, of­fi­cers, full patch mem­bers and prospects.”

Colin, who acts as the club’s cur­rent pres­i­dent, added: “We are a fam­ily and we call each other ‘brothers’.

“Re­spect and loy­alty are ev­ery­thing to us.

“If there is any dis­agree­ment – we sort it out.

“If any­one needs help in or out­side the club – we are al­ways there for one and other.”

The mem­bers meet and ride once a week all year round, whether it rains or shine, through their public Bike Night hosted at the An­gle­sey Arms pub in Caernar­fon.

Bik­ers from all over the re­gion are wel­come to join, and dur­ing the sum­mer, the club can at­tract as many as 50 mem­bers to join their dif­fer­ent bike rides around Me­nai Bridge, Caernar­fon, Ban­gor, Betws -y-Coed and fur­ther afield.

Gra­ham, who is also a busi­ness owner, ex­plained the thrill of rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle on an open road.

He said: “There is some­thing so cathar­tic about it, it’s re­ally re­lax­ing and free.

“For some time, I found it dif­fi­cult to shut off from work, but when I’m on my mo­tor­cy­cle, all of that dis­ap­pears.”

The club also raises money for lo­cal char­i­ties, with its next char­ity bike ride set to take place on Sun­day May 17, in aid of the Welsh Air Am­bu­lance – a char­ity which Colin ex­plained was very close to the club’s heart.

Colin said: “Rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle can be danger­ous and ac­ci­dents do hap­pen.

“Although we do wear pro­tec­tion and are sen­si­ble when we ride in packs, you never know when you’ll need the Air Am­bu­lance, so it’s im­por­tant to us to give back to the com­mu­nity.

“We’re invit­ing all lo­cal bik­ers to join us in a ride around North Wales to raise money for this very wor­thy cause.”

A sense of com­mu­nity in and out­side the club, it seems, means a lot to Y Blei­d­di­aid Mo­tor­cy­cle Club, which its mem­bers aim to pro­tect.

“There aren’t a lot of mo­tor­cy­cle clubs like us that con­tinue and thrive, which makes us hold onto it tighter,” Gra­ham said.

“This club is sa­cred to us and we want to pro­tect it.

“It’s a good out­let, which be­gins as a shared in­ter­est but ends up be­ing a union.

“It’s not a hobby, lot more than that.

“It’s about fam­ily, and we’d be lost with­out it.” it’s a

■ Gra­ham Gourlay and (be­low) Y Blei­d­di­aid Mo­tor­cy­cle Club on one of their Bike Nights

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