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Exiles MC biker club in Abu Dhabi

Biker club is on the lookout for new members

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There is a persistant stereotype that people in motorcycle clubs are reckless, aggressive outlaws. It's more than likely got something to do with films like The Wild One and tales of gangs running riot in America. However, the Exiles MC group in Abu Dhabi proves that such moulds can be broken. We spoke to the captain, Stefan Malinowski, about the group's ideals and spirit, as well as their activities and how they give back to society.

The founding members of Exiles MC were all originally part of the Harley Owners group. In 2004, they separated and formed the Exiles, making it the first independent, non-profit riding group where membership wasn't reliant upon owning a Harley. Of the original 50 founding members, only nine are still in the region and active with the club. The main purpose of the group is to unite people who have a true love for riding motorcycles, and doing it safely. 2012_2_exiles

Stefan's attitude truly embodies the spirit of the group. "Our objectives are to organise enjoyable rides and activities for our members, work to improve motorcycling and its image in the UAE and give something back to the community by helping local charities," he says.

Stefan's love of motorbikes first began as a young boy, watching the TV show Chips. To date, he has 14 years of riding experience under his belt. Unlike many people who are drawn to motorcycles because of their image or engine specs, Stefan believes you should only purchase and drive a bike that is practical for your surroundings and needs. "Personally, I ride a Suzuki C800, also known as an Intruder." he adds.

One of the biggest trips that the club organizes is the Seven Emirates ride, which is usually organised every February. As the name suggests, this activity involves finding a route that goes through all of the seven emirates with the start and finish point being Abu Dhabi. The Exiles coordinate with other biker groups in the country and head out together. Last year, this event saw over 200 bikers hit the road. The ride is completed over 48 hours and involves covering over 700km. While the name might suggest an adventure akin to camping, in truth, "UAE bikers are rarely the kind to rough it so we stay overnight in a nice hotel half way round." he adds.

Safety is a very important issue for the group. When setting out with such large numbers, riders are split up into smaller groups. "Different clubs prefer to ride with their own members anyway," says Stefan. Each smaller group is assigned an experienced Road Captain, who is also supported by a Sweeper. The Sweeper looks out to see if any rider has mechanical trouble or is lagging behind.

If you are interested in joining the group and becoming a member, you should first join the Exiles on their weekly Thursday night spin. The exact details of the route and timings are posted regularly on their web site. Every potential rider has to pass a probationary period, which usually lasts a few months. "New riders are always briefed on how to ride with a group, placed carefully within the pack, with our experienced riders giving them a steady stream of advice along the way. The important thing is that they listen and don't think that they know it all because they have a license. Nobody knows it all, we are always, always learning."

During this time, the person's riding skills are assessed and voted on by existing members. "Everyone you see with complete Exiles MC patches has been through the same process."

People who sign up for membership vary in nationality, age, gender and riding experience. People in their early twenties and late sixties are all united by their sheer love for the open road and enjoying it on a motorcycle. The group even has some female riders, many of whom are very experienced.

They also have charitable functions, because it is important for them to give back to the community. "We raise funds through our annual party and our corporate sponsors, which we then donate to a local charity. For the past two years, rather than simply handing over cash, we bought computers and office equipment for the Ability special needs school in Abu Dhabi."
To learn more about the group or apply for membership, visit www.exiles-mc.com.

By Sara Taher
Time Out Abu Dhabi,