I look out at the wind the rain and the cold and my bike is tucked up warm and unridden in the shed. I have a stinking cold and feel like shit and my wife has been nagging me to get on with renovating the bathroom, in the background the kids are arguing and yet I feel bloody lucky. The reason for this positive attitude is the fact I don’t live in Iraq.
Just for one minute imagine what it must be like for a biker like yourself living in Iraq, or any war torn country. You would think it might be nearly impossible for anyone like us to keep our lifestyle going when all around there is the possibility of sudden death and destruction, and yet, some people do it.
Back in 2012 a guy called Captain Bilal” al Bayati decided that what was really needed, when the rest of the world was battling ISIS in his country, was a motorcycle club! Yep, in the middle of all the horrors he thought a bike club was a good idea, and he wasn’t wrong. By 2014 the club had grown from one to about seventy five members and this is when I first heard of it. These guys are amazing, there is no other word for it. They meet up on a Friday night and go for a ride, hang out and generally do what we all love to do, but they did it in Iraq in 2014 at the height of the troubles.
It is not your normal bike club, how could it be? The members come from all branches of Iraqi society, Sunni, Shia, Christian or Kurd, it makes no difference and no one asks. All that matters to them is that you love Iraq and that you love bikes.
Now in 2017 the club has grown even more, there are now more than 300 members and the philosophy of the club remains the same, Iraq and bikes are what is important. Like most other clubs they see themselves as family, but unlike other clubs there is no macho bullshit, how can there be when their everyday lives carry the threat of things far worse than we can ever imagine? These are not hard men in our sense of the word, these are hard men who are truly that, made hard by their lives but through their bikes and love of bikes making an oasis of fun and friendship. Many are soldiers who fight the battle against ISIS and come home to ride with their mates to regain a bit of sanity. Some are injured and the club has taken them in and given them support and a reason to live, and others are just people, like you and me, trying to survive in a world gone mad.
Yet there is even more than this, the group now travels the country, giving shows for the rest of their countrymen, helping to cast a little light in what must be one hell of a dark time for those living there. They have travelled to other countries to help highlight the problems that theirs faces and they help out back in their home town, just doing what any biker does, and showing what freedom really means.
That is possibly their greatest gift to their country, the fact that they are free of all religious and ethnic politics, they couldn’t give a fuck about that. What matters is that they are free and their country should be to, free of religious and political trouble, free of war and free of death.
Yeah, we are bloody lucky to live where we do, and those guys are truly amazing.