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