Not-so-easy riders

Adrenaline-pumping Moto Maniacs bring the thrills


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/06/2017 (2054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Moto Maniacs Ivan Espana drives his wife Allison Blei in circles during their performance on the opening day at The Ex at Red River Exhibition Park.

There are no new rides at the Red River Exhibition this year.

Before you sigh (or if you’re like me, cheer because you don’t have to ride some new death trap in order to report on it), there is a new adrenaline-pumping show, and the old favourites — Mach 3, Ring of Fire, Mega Drop — are back, if you’re into that.

If you’re not, and you’re looking for something new, you’ll have to head to the back of the park. Next to the north show ring, Moto Maniacs, an acrobatic motorcycle show, is making its Canadian debut. The Florida troupe features tightrope stunts, an aerial silks performance and a couple of fast-flying motorcycles riding around in the Globe of Death.

The show kicks off with an uncommon performance. Allison Blei hangs from a motorcycle driven by her husband, Ivan Espana, while the motorcycle is on a tightrope. While Blei felt like she was flying down the highway in a convertible (she told me after the show), I thanked a higher power that I chose journalism as a career.

Blei gracefully showed off her aerial silks skills. As much as I would like to dress up in shiny red spandex and wrap myself, mummy-style, in a white sheet, I felt much safer on the ground than she looked, falling head-first from about three metres in the air. She caught herself in the silks before hitting the ground, of course.

“We’re very confident about what we’re doing,” she said later.

I didn’t have the same confidence as I watched the two men, Espana and his son, Sian, get on their motorcycles in a metal orb rightly dubbed the Globe of Death. Apparently, the thing weighs 2,700 kilograms (6,000 pounds). The two riders just barely fit side by side on their motorcycles at the bottom. How they were going to ride around and not hit each other, I wasn’t sure.

My eyes watered from the sheer dizziness of it all. At 80 km/h, the father and son ripped around the globe, chasing each other at vertical and diagonal angles. At one point, Blei stepped into the middle of this in, what I can only assume, was a death wish.

While I was trying to figure out the physics of it, Espana and Sian looked at each other and smiled.

“It’s like someone is shaking your head really hard, but in a good way,” Sian said about the sensation.

Moto Maniacs shows run three times a day Thursday to Sunday (2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) and twice a day Monday to Wednesday (5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.).

Garth Rogerson, CEO of the Red River Exhibition, brought the group to the Ex after seeing them perform in the U.S.

“I just thought, this is fun. It’s loud and big… kids will hold their breath,” he said.

He’s looking forward to the next nine days.

“We work all year planning this and it’s exciting to finally be open,” he said.


Updated on Saturday, June 17, 2017 12:22 PM CDT: Typo fixed.

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