A standing wheelie by Global FMX free-style motocrosser Jeff Fehr was part of the Thursday midway show at Westerner Days. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Motorcross riders perform heart-stopping stunts at Red Deer’s Westerner Days

‘I wanted to see how far I could push myself and my machine,’ says rider

He’s the first Canadian who performed a backflip on a motocross bike and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for stunting on natural terrain.

But long before Jeff Fehr began jumping his vehicle off 75-foot ramps and doing handstands while grabbing his bike seat, he was just a kid fascinated by the “physics” of the sport.

“I wanted to see how far I could push myself and my machine,” said the freestyle motocross rider from Vanderhoof, B.C.

Fehr, who’s broken most major bones in his body and has already needed one hip replacement, is performing along with Chris Nolan and five-year-old Kruz Garwasiuk as part of the Global FMX show at Westerner Days in Red Deer.

The five-day event attracted 14,371 people Wednesday.

When the weather’s good, fans will see the adult riders doing death-defying stunts on their bikes some 40 feet in the air.

They jump their vehicles 75 feet between ramps, with their feet trailing behind their bikes, one hand grabbing the seat, the other on the handle bars.

But Thursday, unseasonable cold rain and wind conspired against the riders.

As announcer Chris Garwasiuk explained to the crowd: You can’t have the wind blowing your bike out from under you when you’re that high in the air. You also can’t have rain slicking up the ramps when you have to stop and turn on a dime.

The audience got a more modest ground show, starring five-year-old Cruz, son of Chris Garwasiuk, who jumped his pint-sized bike across three grown men lying on the ground.

While Fehr showed off some impressive wheelies, he was upstaged by the kid.

The 35-year-old recalled being much younger than Cruz is now when he got his first bike. His motorcycle-loving mom and his car-racer dad gave him his first tiny motorcycle at the age of two — and it was love at first sight.

“There was no stopping me … it was always a matter of when am I allowed to ride my bike? I would do it day, night, rain or snow, if I could,” he recalled.

Fehr became a professional motocross racer at age 15. But speed wasn’t enough. He became fascinated by what else he could do on his machine.

“What we do is extremely dangerous,” said the performer — especially when freestyle was in its infancy two decades ago.

There was no foam pit to fall into, so Fehr considers himself “lucky” that he could recover from all the broken bones and concussions he’s sustained over the years.

After his hip replacement, he thought he could give up the sport. He opened a music production studio — which he still runs.

But the thrill of motocross was too strong.

“I can’t stay away from it,” admitted Fehr, who teaches freestyling and spends part of his summers performing at fairs, rodeos and festivals.

He’s travelled all over Europe, Australia and South America entertaining crowds.

Besides the challenges of the sport, he said it’s all the people he’s met along the way who have kept him interested in doing motocross.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Five-year-old free-style motocrosser Kruz Garwasiuk jumps three people in the Global FMX midway show Thursday at Westerner Days. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Jeff Fehr (left) and Chris Nolan perform in the Global FMX show at Red Deer’s Westerner Days. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

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