Jarmila Jackson, Features Writer
Marlon 'Cutter' Fletcher (left) and Uzander 'Macky' McFarlane.
The crowd grows larger as a group of young boys abandoned their football game to witness the spectacle. In two lanes separated by parked cars on a breezy Good Friday evening on Elletson Road in downtown Kingston, the Crazy Bikerz Stunt Crew demonstrate their skill. Uzander 'Mackie' McFarlane and Marlon 'Cutta' Fletcher, two official members of the crew are joined by Paula Gunter and Nadia Davidson, two female novices, now on their sixth lesson.
Mackie and Cutta showed their skills doing a number of complicated stunts. One of them was 'the ape-hanger'. In this stunt, the bike stands at a vertical angle while the rider hangs upside down, hands touching the ground.
'The high-chair' stunt
Another stunt, 'the high chair', involves the rider sitting on the handlebar, feet extended in the air, while the bike is in motion. The 'surf' challenges the rider to stand as if surfing on the seat of the moving motorcycle, hands extended to ensure balance.
Mackie calls Nadia to do 'the watchtower'. She is a little nervous, and it shows in her smile, as she turns back to fetch her helmet. With the motorcycle standing, nose in the air almost completely vertical, she climbs on the front wheel extending her arms in the air while Mackie hangs down below, his arms scraping the concrete, all while the bike is in motion.
Mackie has been teaching persons how to ride since 1992, asking only for a small contribution for gas and general maintenance.
"I've been riding motorcycles for the past 24 years," says Mackie, "from I was a little boy, I was enthused about stunts, I started on a bicycle." Knowledge of how to ride a bicycle, Mackie says, is the basic tool for fast learning. "I have been doing stunts for the past 15, I've never had any tutors at all, I just observe and adopt. I watch those DVDs of the guys from Miami, over and over. Since 1992, I've turned out about an average of 90 students per year, but some of them stop after a while, and we have to recruit new people."
Riders who qualify are recruited to join the Crazy Bikerz Crew, a crew that has separated itself from many others by enforcing a strict rule of 'safety first'. In fact, they are so serious about adherence to this rule that third-time offenders are expelled from the crew. Members are required to always wear protective gear, dress appropriately (exposing very little skin), perform stunts in an enclosed and controlled environment, never in the streets and most important, the stunts are done at slow speeds; a feat that takes extreme caution and skill.
"Because the stunt is done slowly, there are rarely ever any injuries. We don't compete because competition pushes one over the edge, and you end up with injuries that way; our motto is safety first. When you can ride a motorcycle on one wheel, it is the advanced level. When you can ride it slowly on one wheel, that is the expert level, when one can do every conceivable thing, it is the master's level. I take people from the novice level up to getting their licence at the depot and when they express their interest in doing stunts, we start off with lying down and standing on the seat, and when they can drive at that level, we move on to the wheelie and then on to the more complicated stunts."
Mackie is more than a little bit concerned about the negative perception of biking in Jamaica. "Motorcycle sports in Jamaica is not as embraced as we would like it to be. In general, people view motorcyclists as indisciplined people and the sport itself as dangerous. Riding motorcycles can be safe with the right approach." This is why he offers training to ensure maximum safety. To the interested citizen he says, "Yu can ride bicycle? Yu nuh have no problem."
Left: Nadia Davidson attempts the watchtower with Uzander McFarlane. Right: One hander
Four-people wheelie. photos by Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer
This manoeuvre is called oral sex or 'OS'. - photos by Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer
Left: Burn Out, Right: Marlon 'Cutter' Fletcher (left) and Uzander 'Macky' McFarlane show more of their stunts.
( L - R ) Watchtower, Wheelie