Saturday, September 01, 2007

Welsh Angels and Outlaws

Born to be wild? If you fancy yourself as a budding Hunter S Thompson why not find a Welsh motorcycle gang to hang out with - there are plenty to choose from.

How about the most mythologised bikers in history - the Hells Angels themselves? Wales got its first Hells Angels charter as recently as 1999. Each new club gets to have its own distinct death's-head patch - the Welsh one has yellow and red on the design and its skull has tiny horns.

Or how about visiting a Hells Angels clubhouse? I've never been to one myself but apparently biker paraphenalia from around the world adorns the walls. There is also a special memorial section dedicated to brothers who have died or been killed on the road. Accomodation is provided on site for visiting members of the motorcycle club.

Occasionally all the various Hells Angels clubs from around Britain meet up on a run. In 2003 for example they met in Wales at Baskerville Hall near Hay-on-Wye. After some initial apprehension local residents were won over by the huge boost to the economy provided by a sudden influx of hundreds of hungry and thirsty bikers.

Another (and more numerous) biker fraternity are The Outlaws. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club Wales was officially founded in 1993. There are three main chapters. The North Wales chapter emerged from a notorious biker gang known as The Henchmen MC who go back to the late '60s. The West Wales chapter originated in 1979 and at some point was known as The Strays MC. The South Wales chapter, although relatively new, has become the dominant motorcycle club in the area. Their ranks are made up of bikers from various older motorcycle gangs.

You can find out more about the Outlaws MC Wales at their excellent website. And here's an interesting article about the funeral of a well-known Welsh Outlaw in North Wales.