Professional freestyle motorcross rider Tim Dyson was just 19 years old when he received the shocking news that he had advanced Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — and was told he should not expect to survive.
Dyson refused to accept the prognosis. He began an aggressive chemotherapy regimen and vowed to fight the disease. During one of his sessions, he happened to watch a video of some dirt-bike riders performing stunts.
Watching the riders fly through the air, Dyson was blown away. It was something he had to try, he says.
“That’s what I was doing when I was a kid — riding and doing big jumps and stuff,” recalls Dyson, who spoke during a break while traveling in Maine. “I saw those guys and I was like, ‘Man, I can do that.’ I moved back home and bought a bike. I figured if cancer couldn’t kill me, the dirt bike won’t.”
Fifteen years later, Dyson is cancer-free, has ridden with motorsports greats such as Travis Pastrana and completed some of the most daring stunts attempted — including a double backflip with a passenger on his bike.
“It’s an adrenaline rush,” says Dyson, who also recently launched his own clothing line, Braaap Clothing. “We do it so much, it’s a job now. It’s like being a plumber to me. It’s not like it scares us or anything. The crowd really gets us going.”
This weekend, Dyson and his team — Tim Dyson FMX — will bring their high-flying stunts to Wildwood as part of the annual Roar to the Shore Motorcycle Rally, a four-day event that kicks off Thursday, Sept. 5, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 8, at various locations in Wildwood.
The event, billed as the largest free motorcycle rally in the Northeast, includes free live entertainment, motorcycle vendors, food and merchandise vendors and charity events all weekend long.
“This one is a treat for us, because we don’t usually get to do bike rallies,” Dyson says. “It’s different from monster truck shows. You get it all (at a bike rally). You don’t have to hold back. The riders with me are top notch. I have a couple flippers, new up-and-comers. We have awesome riders.”
Roar to the Shore, which began more than 20 years ago as a gathering of a few enthusiastic bikers, has grown to become one of Wildwood’s biggest and most profitable events, drawing thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts for the four-day festival of all things biker. More than 300 vendors spread over five lots will be selling everything from bikes, clothing, bike parts, jacket patches and everything in between.
“It’s been a very good event, there haven’t been any problems,” says Mark D’Amico, the vice president of Cape Classics Motorcycle Club and also the superintendent of Public Works in Wildwood. “It’s one of the cleanest events Wildwood has. I think it’s a great wind down to the end of the year. People use it as their time last chance to come down.”
The crowd favorites of past Roar to the Shores have returned again this year. There is the Friday Pig Roast at Kindle Ford at noon, the Walking Poker Run noon Saturday, the Biker Babe Contest 7 p.m. Saturday, and the rubber duck-themed Boardwalk Motorcycle Ride 12:30 p.m. Sunday. All proceeds from the rubber duck ride benefit the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
This year the Battle of the Biker Bands and the Custom Boardwalk Bike Show — both new last year — will return.
The semifinal rounds for the remaining bands will be held in a new location — outside on a stage in the main vendor lot off Oak Avenue, next to the Anheuser-Busch bar — on Friday and Saturday. A combination of judges’ scores and audience participation will send the Top 4 to the final round on Saturday night for the chance to win a $3,000 cash prize.
The Custom Boardwalk Bike Show begins with a pre-show on 6 p.m. Friday at the Pacific Avenue Block Party. On Saturday, 18 different classes of motorcycles will line the Boardwalk starting at 11:30 a.m. to compete for “Best in Show” titles and cash prizes.
Dyson and his team will perform stunts all day Friday through Sunday in the Wildwoods Convention Center parking lot.
For D’Amico, who bought his first Harley in the early 1980s, there is a feeling of freedom that comes with riding a motorcycle on the open road.
“Once you get in South Jersey (to ride), let’s face it, it’s totally different than Philadelphia or anywhere else,” D’Amico says. “You’re in Pinelands … it’s more of a pleasure to ride here than anywhere else. You could be riding to a destination and end up two or three miles past it. You’re out in the wind, thinking of anything but your problems.”
Morley honored as Mummers assemble
Late entertainer Cozy Morley may have secured his status as a local icon after recording his famous tune “On the Way to Cape May,” but to many, especially members of the Fralinger String Band, Cozy is most fondly remembered as a Mummer.
“Cozy joined Fralinger back in the ’40s … I joined in 1955,” says Joe Quattrone, a North Wildwood resident and a member of Fralinger for more than 50 years. “He’s an icon, and he’s a big part of this celebration.”
Philadelphia’s Mummers will make their way back to the Wildwoods 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, for the annual Mummers String Band Show, set to take place along Olde New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood.
Entertainment will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will feature the Duffy String Band and the Philadelphia Mummers Chorus. At 4 p.m., the Mummers Strut Contest will begin and will feature paradegoers performing their very best strut for the crowd.
The Mummers Parade will follow the contest and begin at 4:45 p.m. The parade will feature the Top 9 string bands from this year’s New Year’s Day Parade in Philadelphia.
In addition to joining the fun and learning the famous “Mummers Strut,” spectators will be able to get up-close views of the costumes and intricate dance steps the Mummers perform during the parade.
“The Philadelphia Mummers are unique, and North Wildwood is considered the summer home of the mummers,” says Quattrone, who like many Mummers, moved to the area from South Philadelphia. “That includes all divisions. We’ve had the string band going down there for the last 18, 19 years. And truly, I think that’s because of Cozy. He had such a following.”
Morley, who died last month, will be remembered in a special tribute this weekend, Quattrone says.
“He was a mummer, and he lived that life, and we’re going to do something to commemorate that,” Quattrone says. “That’s a big part of this particular parade. It’s a great family fun event.”