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Epic journey to be filmed: Pals plan to ride 5,000 miles from Belfast to Northern Iran

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 13/05/2015

Sunday life Features Nathan Reid
Sunday life Features Nathan Reid
Sunday life Features Nathan Reid
Sunday life Features Phil Harrison, Fabian Beickhorasani, Ben Behzadafshar and Nathan Reid who will be travelling on bike from Belfast to Iran. Story Christopher Woodhouse Sunday Life News Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday life Features Nathan Reid who will be travelling on bike from Belfast to Iran. Story Christopher Woodhouse Sunday Life News Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday life Features Nathan Reid who will be travelling on bike from Belfast to Iran. Story Christopher Woodhouse Sunday Life News Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life

Two pals from Belfast are set to embark on an epic Middle Eastern motorcycle odyssey for a documentary film.

Nathan Reid and Fabian Beickhorasani, both 24, are set to ride a pair of 1980s motorbikes nearly 5,000 miles from Belfast to Mashhad in north eastern Iran.

“The core of the idea was just two best friends riding motorbikes, quite romantic in a way,” laughs Nathan, who works at Estd. coffee in Belfast.

“I’ve been saying for about three years that it was about time I went to Iran,” explained Fabian, an artist.

“I was living in England among so many different cultures which made me feel even more disconnected from my Iranian/Persian roots.”

Nathan added: “Fabian had always said to me that he wouldn’t be doing it justice if he flew to Iran, so the idea of riding motorbikes there manifested itself.”

The bikes in question are Nathan’s 1981 BMW R65 and Fabian’s 1983 Yamaha XJ 650 Seca, both rebuilt and modified at Gary Greenberg’s Titanic City Cycles workshop at the old Harland & Wolff Paint Hall. Their support car, driven by friend Ben Behzadafshar, is a 1970s Ford Escort which they swear has only 2,000 genuine miles on the clock.

“Another reason why we wanted to do the trip was to help change people’s perspectives of other cultures on that side of the world, at the moment it has a very negative vibe,” said Nathan.

“If you only see it on BBC News you’re on getting one perspective on it,” added Fabian.

Starting on June 1, the two month long odyssey will take the guys through 15 countries, initially from Belfast to Dublin, London and then down to the south of France.

They will then follow the coast up through Monaco to Verona and across Italy to Venice before heading down the Adriatic coast, passing through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Greece.

The saddle sore quartet will then cross over to Istanbul before a huge final slog across the entire width of Turkey to the Iranian border and on to Fabian’s family’s home town of Mashhad in the north eastern province of Khorasan.

Their trip will be documented by Belfast film maker Phil Harrison for a feature length documentary called Sherryvallies with the apt tagline ‘How do you return to a place you’ve never been?’.

Sherryvallies, a word with Persian roots, refers to a type of trouser worn by riders for long distance journeys on horseback.

“For us Sherryvallies is where you go to after you finished your job at the end of the day and you have a few hours spare before you have to go to bed, that place of perfection in your mind,” explained Fabian.

The idea for the madcap adventure came about when the two childhood pals, from Glengormley in north Belfast, got back in contact with each other about a year ago after 12 years apart.

“We have known each other since we were four-years-old, we went to primary school together and we were best friends,” said Nathan.

Fabian revealed: “We got talking one night and I had asked Nathan if he was into bikes and he said he used to ride one, that sort of sparked my whole interest in motorcycles.

“Through further sessions in the pub the idea of documenting it came up and Fabian is a photographer as well so he wanted to do some sort of photographic record of it, then we had the idea of making a documentary,” explained Nathan.

“So we thought if we were going to do this why don’t we really do it. I got drunk one night and said I wanted to make a documentary and get it into the Sundance Film Festival,” jokes Nathan. “My response was ‘Of course!’,” said Fabian.

They have now teamed up with film maker and director Phil Harrison who will record the trip.

“I didn’t just want to make a travel film, so what we’re planning to do is meet other Iranians living in various cities along the route to explore that sense of dislocated identity,” explained Phil.

“It’s relevant to Northern Ireland, so maybe by exploring that  we might shed some light on sense of hybrid identity here.”

The team has also just launched a Kickstarter funding campaign to help them pay for the project.

“Everything is kind of against us time wise, it’s really down to the wire and we don’t have any money yet but who doesn’t love an underdog?” said Fabian.

However, several firms have lent the project their support, including Builtwell Helmets, Sort Design and Misu, a world renowned maker of water bottles for extreme sports.

“It would be no fun if it was easy and just all fell into place, this is the way to make a brilliant story,” added Nathan.

For more information on the project go to this website:    www.sherryvallies.com

Online Editors

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