Lebanon long accustomed to the sound of gunfire is echoing to a different noise ...?
LV PAN Motorcyclists negotiating jumps successfully on the seafront in Beirut
SV PAN Motorcyclist falls on completion of jump and slides along road while his cycle careers towards spectators
LV Another motorcyclist rolling on ground after fall
LV PAN successful jump
LV AND SV Spectators watch as motorcyclist with passenger passes along seafront on one wheel
SV Policemen dispersing motorcyclists (3 shots)
SV PAN Motorcyclists leaving venue as night falls
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Background: Lebanon long accustomed to the sound of gunfire is echoing to a different noise ... the din of the "Beirut bikies". Each week along a narrow stretch of road on the Beirut seafront they meet in an unofficial contest of drag racing and stunt riding.
SYNOPSIS: Just before sunset on Saturday afternoons is the time favoured by the bikies. They seal off one lane of Ramlet-Al-Beida, a seafront highway and begin the contest ... sometimes not too successfully.
No self respecting contestant would be seen in a crash helmet or protective leathers ... however much it hurts.
There are no prizes and hardly any rules, but the aims are simple. In the races, to go as fast as possible, over the jumps as far as possible. At times the bikes reach speeds of 110 miles per hour (180 KPH). Police do what they can to break-up the meetings, but the bikies come back the following week. The present free for all on the roads is often linked to the break down of law and order during the civil war. Whatever the reason, driving in Beirut remains almost always dangerous, often nerve wracking, but never dull.