Clare’s Harley Davidson celebrated 120 years of Harley Davidsons with a September Smoker, involving vendors, food, lots of smoke, lots of wheelies, and lots of burnouts entertained the large crowd of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Highway Heathens / Crooked Clubhouse Extreme Motorcycle Stunt Show performed twice during the day, burning rubber and shredding tires at the York Road store in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Christian Restivo, a stunt rider from Buffalo, is part of the Highway Heathens team. “Today we are celebrating the 120th Harley anniversary,” he said. “You're going to see a lot of smoke, and some sparks. It's crazy,” he said enthusiastically. He pointed to the back tire of a motorcycle he rode in the 11 a.m. stunt show. “Look at that tire there. We shredded them in half already.”
He described the stunt show, with eight riders, and some special guests, as “controlled chaos.” He rides a 2021 Street Glide Special and a highly modified 1200 Sportster.
Special guest rider Brad Wall, originally from Welland, was there with his wife, Lauren and young daughters Chloe and Hunter.
“I'm going to be putting on a show on my 2009 FXD. I also have a Road Glide that's currently broken. I broke it this morning, so we're going to do the best we can on the single bike that I've got. There'll be lots of drifting burnouts. Crowd interaction, smoke, and wheelies. It's a good time,” he said.
Wall only started riding motorcycles three years ago and said he immediately fell in love with the stunt scene. “It's freeing. It's almost therapy and it’s something to be able to push it,” he said, referring to pushing both himself and his Harley Davidson bikes, to the edge of performance.
“I love putting on a show, love interacting with the crowd, seeing the smile on my kids’ faces and on other kids’ faces by doing something on a bike that most people would think you can never do.”
All riders in the stunt show ride Harley Davison motorcycles, which is not the usual bike chosen for this extreme sport. A quick internet search does not even list Harleys in the top 10 of stunt bikes.
“They're Harley Davidsons,” said Wall. “That's the biggest thing that interests me. The first bikes I got into were sport bikes, but as soon as I saw people could wheelie and drift Harleys, I thought that was the craziest thing.”
Drifting is a technique where the rider oversteers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving (drifting) the bike through a corner.
“I never thought I'd be the one that could do that. I just got the bikes three years ago and here I am doing shows and travelling.”
The learning curve hasn’t been without its consequences. “I think last year that I must have crashed about 100 times.” Sure enough, his Instagram page posts about “15 good crashes,” and he credits the skills he has today with the crashes. “I think that's the only way I could get to where I am today.”
Wall pushes the limits every time he rides, he said. “I am not scared to hurt myself but I try to keep throttle back a little because I do have the two young ones and family to take care of. But at the end of the day I gotta live the life that I want to live. I have all the support from my wife and my kids and they enjoy doing it.”
In some shows, Wall includes his young daughters. “They'll hop on, and we'll drift together with them on the tank. It's a really good time. The community is just fantastic.”
After six shows this year alone, the girls seemed unfazed by what dad was doing on the tarmac, and instead played with friends behind the event.
Wall’s wife, Lauren “used to get nervous because he had no idea what he was actually doing. And he will admit that when he first started doing power wheelies, he's like, ‘I'm lucky I didn't die.’”
“Now he's explained to me that he knows how to control the bike and what he's doing and the technical aspect of it. I'm a little more calm.”
Sole female rider, Elizabeth Raynsford out of Mississauga, stunted on a 883 XL Sportster. She amazed spectators as she rode by, standing straight up on her seat as she did so. At one point she sat behind a rider as he performed wheelies, while her gloved hand trailed along the surface of the tarmac.
Restivo has three sons under the age of four. “My four-year-old has an electric Harley,” he said, and has already shown an interest in stunting.