Remona Aly
Wednesday 01 May 2024 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

On a wheel and a prayer

Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

On a wheel and a prayer


A couple of weekends ago, I flung on my dotted hijab, dark shades and fake leather skirt, as I was invited to join a community of Muslim bikers for their reunion ride-out.

Hitting a prayer mat rather than a pub, the genuine leather-clad brotherhood gathered at a beautiful mosque in Cambridge – to pray together, stand together and eat smash burgers together, while the sun glinted off their squadron of immaculate wheels.

As the only woman and non-rider among them, I tried to play it real cool. While I was less AC/DC Back in Black biker vibe, and more Byker Grove, I still managed to live out a bucket list dream: to sit on a legendary Harley Davidson.

One of the biker bros kindly, perhaps misguidedly, handed me the key to rev the engine. I twisted the handle, and nearly fell off as the Harley roared through me, its resounding growl rumbling through my heart minutes later, until it eventually disappeared and the dream was over. 

I remember the rush of emotion, aged 13, when I saw my first crush and wished he’d notice me, yet my teenage bloom wilted when he never so much as looked in my direction.

I recall the thrill of seeing my first article in a major newspaper, yet the joy clouded over with a sigh, knowing my late father wouldn’t be there to say how proud he was or hug me tight.

The older I get, the more bittersweet my memories feel. But I’m grateful for the sighs and the smiles, the bitter and the sweet, for each tear is a testament to the joys I’ve had, each heartache shows honour to the love I’ve known, and each yearning yields proof of the hope I still cling to.  

Rumi, the 13th century Muslim poet, mystic and scholar, said, “God turns you from one feeling to another, and teaches by means of opposites, so that you’ll have two wings to fly, not one.”

I’ll look to fly along the open road, embracing the memories that lie ahead in all their fullness – perhaps even while riding a Harley. Although, maybe I should crawl before I fly, and start with the two wheels I can actually ride…a humble bicycle.

To listen, click here Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show