Titty Show at Hawg Flats; a Harley Rally Newbie Gets Schooled

Lee Foote
10 min readMay 18

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It wasn’t that non-Harleys weren’t allowed at the 7th Annual Hawg Flatts Motorcycle Rally in northern Alberta but of the 800 bikers there, mine was the only German bike to be seen. There was a lonely MotoGuzzi and about seven Japanese bikes looking piteously out of place. Everything else simply idled “Phat tap a ta, phat tap a tah”, ahh yes, Milwaukee was well represented and after I had paid and ridden in to the fenced camping area I noticed a lot of heads turning- “Whazatt?”. Then that “Wickerman feeling” started to creep in. If anyone forgot that this really was a fiercely Harley event, they need only watch the blowtorch wielding Hoggist as he ritualistically cut the pipes off a dilapidated Honda Silverwing. It was a sacrificial machine, apparently without owner. This bike was then forced to endure a continuous redline burnout (more on this ritual later) until (a) the tire popped, or (b) a valve or piston failed. The carcass of the bike was destined to be lifted by a helicopter to a height of 500 feet above the adjacent field and dropped to its smack-thudding landing, then the carcass was to be ceremonially burned and urinated upon. All of this was to the cheering and leering of the bikers at the campground. It really did have a crucifixion theme to it.

Most people recognize the buzz saw acceleration pattern of 2-stroke dirt bikes; “rrrrripp, rrrriiip” and the Harleys have a cliché’ acceleration signal that goes about 10 piston strokes in first; twop –tot- tot- tot- tot- tot- tot- tot- tot- and about 20 pulses in second as the low end torque is what they are all about. You can actually count the number of piston firings in a normal shift sequence. We only heard this little serenade about oh . . . 10,000 times this weekend. Riders never tire of these little drum rolls of combustion and they punctuated the evening through supper, through the music and around the campfire. Somewhere there must be a huge warehouse with OEM Harley pipes stored there because not one in ten sports the original [noise-legal] pipes.

Though we were wide-eyed observers, we also promised not to go all analytical or judgmental. After all, we were the odd men out and in truth, there was a strong selective filter for tolerance, forbearance, and uninhibited behavior. No outlaw bikers and a few of the well-heeled Doctor/Lawyer/Accountant yuppies of Harleydom. This rally held a plethora of middle class and blue-collar working stiffs for whom that $20,000 bike represented a sizeable chunk of their leisure money and encompassed their attitude.

My wife Naomi, ever the academic sociologist threatened to write a scientific article for the Journal Deviant Behavior with some title like “Social construction and reflexive affirmation of Harley Davidson owner’s normative behaviors” whereas I would write the same article, in layman’s terms of course, for the magazine Chopper World. My Title would be ”Titty show at Hawg Flats”

Possseurs? Sure, they are at every rally and some crazy things happen as a result, but mostly, if one arrived on a motorcycle and one paid the $40 entrance fee, then they had passed two filters meaning you really wanted to be there and would be welcomed. So, there were some kids, lots of women, no fights, keys stayed in the bikes, there was a locked gate, a general permissiveness with appearance and behavior and lots of good natured ribbing and sportsmanship for the bike rodeo.

So exactly what does one do at a Harley rally? How about these events:

Beer Keg Soccer. One has to nudge a round beer keg through a goal using only their front tire while feet stay on the pegs. Not so easy as it might look but some folks had a real knack for it. It got more interesting when the water truck turned the firehose on folks.

Weenie bite. The bike operator slowly motors underneath a hotdog that is hanging from a string and the passenger riding “bitch” (adjective for pillion or backseat position) tries to bite the pendulous target. Because the wiener (the one hanging from a string that is) is generously slathered with mustard, it is slippery and makes a hell of a mess on the biter’s face if they miss.

There was much hilarity here because after the third woman to go finally got a good bite on the weiner, she was almost jerked off the bike like a fish on a line. She dismounted, strode over to the weiner operator, whipped out her folding knife and when the gasping stopped, she carefully cut the invisible plastic wrapper off the hot dog. Seems it was a safe practices hotdog. One fellow positioned his female biter standing on the pegs in front of him so she could line up better. This put his nose square in the crack of dawn so there was some bun action even if the meat didn’t pan out. In an amazing display of stereotype bashing, a skinny English fellow rode bitch while his lady ran the bike. He didn’t get a good bite but rumors abounded that he simply gave it a suck in passing.

“Honey, I’m home!” In this game, the participant strips to his underwear, lays down on a mattress with a voluptuous volunteer lady in a small tool shed. When the announcer knocks on the door and yells “Honey, I’m home!” the contestant has to leap up, pull on his pants, jump through a window sill, and start his bike. Some of the players seemed disturbingly adept and well-practiced at this routine.

The Burnout Rack I found this painful and somewhat showy but overall inane. Riders would slowly ride up to a metal rack bolted to a horizontal sheet of plywood that extended under their rear tire. They would then rev the engine and dump the clutch to spin the rear wheel fast enough to produce huge clouds of smoke. If they had big torque they could work their way up to 3rd gear and get some high RPMs going. We stood next to the competition sponsor — a Harley Davidson dealer from Edmonton — and he was concerned that these were not proper burnouts on cement with no barrier. Burnouts that required careful control of throttle and front brake to prevent rocketing into the distance. He did acknowledge that by donating a $200 tire to the winner he was guaranteed the sale of a dozen tires and maybe a clutch or valve train or three. Hearing a stationary 1200 cc Harley at redline for 30 seconds is a painful thing in a mechanopomorphic sort of way. It is almost as bad as hearing a small revvy engine lugged to the point of “tocking and pwopping”. Huge clouds of billowing smoke erupted, small shards of molten rubber sprayed skyward and one after another, $200 tires were ruined from heat and rubber erosion. Of course, videos of a man astride a smoke-engulfed bike preserved a moment of glory. Of this I was a bit judgmental — it was quite wasteful, expensive and egoistical. Just when I had decided there was a certain sameness to all these burnouts, a fellow rolled up with a full dress Electraglide Harley pulling an erected pop-up tent trailer. As the billows of smoke rolled off his tire, several heads popped out of the back of the tent trailer to the roars of laughter by the crowd. They won and they earned it. We surmised they had latex linings in their lungs.

After the rider contests, we dashed out to the lake for a swim and to cool off before riding back for the traditional Hawg Flatts Saturday Supper — Coleslaw, baked beans, and you guessed it, Hawg meat. Big piles of each served up out of 15-gallon Tupperware totes. Tasty, filling and ripe for processing through to odiferous fermentation.

There were lots of sales booths around for rider paraphernalia, most of which was about burnishing the rider’s image and just a little bit about safety. There were skull caps, leather wristbands, studded chaps, patches, stickers — my favorite of which said “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!” Verb, adjective (or is that an adverb?) and noun. I wanted to send it on to Mrs Wilson, my 4th grade English teacher. What a stunning example of a flexible word.

After supper, the music started and it was really good. Three bands, a lot of AC/DC, Lynard Skynard, Jake Giles, Rolling Stones, Meatloaf, CCR, and the likes. Great driving music from the 1960’s through 90’s. The campground gate was locked, the beer was flowing and the dancing — if one would call it that — commenced. Many of the women were very good dancers but us guys all seemed a little, hmm. . .. out of practice with an inordinate amount of random hopping and torquey twisting. I was the designated driver, therefore deprived of inhibition reducer but still, it was a non-judgmental crowd and anything went, well, almost anything. When one overly zealous rider came blipping and clutching his way into the beer garden, rode through the campfire and started heading toward the stage where a screeching starlett was doing a Gracie Slick knockoff, a group of leveler heads pulled him down and re-turned him to the camping area. The band played on undaunted.

Right at midnight as the second band was setting up, the lineup of excited and somewhat exciting, wet T-shirt contestants filed onto the stage. It took about 2 minutes for the contest to morph into a no-T shirt contest and various ladies upped the ante to a no-clothing contest. After all, we were behind a locked fence in a remote boreal forest and there was a $300 prize on the line. So, there were big, old, young, svelt, rotund, housewifey, and siliconed women in the running. Breasts were jiggled, swung with abandon, rubbed, and shimmied. Configurations were pendulous, perky, flapjack, ski slope, voluptuous, splay melon, egg-like (raw and fried) twin peaks, and muscular.

The crowd was supportive and gave particularly keen applause and whistles to the big, round and aged which pleased us and them alike. It was a very egalitarian moment and the appreciation, though libidinous, seemed genuine and admiring of their spirit and bravery. It must be very affirming to those women that deviate from the standard North American notion of an ideal body type. Their comfort levels in their state of undress was comparable to my comfort in a business suit. At least one shapely woman had moves so practiced as to suggest some serious workout time with a brass pole. I think it counted against her though since this was amateur’s night.

Impressive really and seemingly taken by all in the spirit of good fun. This wasn’t to say there wasn’t a late night mood of carnality present and when the shirts went back on, the same girls were back on the dance floor with us all. I looked at them with a comparative eye and developed a new respect for the mysterious deceit of lycra and nylon.

Though I am biased, the women in our group, Sue and Naomi, were with two of the most attractive women there. They were also very good dancers and once we had demonstrated that Naomi and I could dance a bit of country swing as well as hoochie coo some gritty little Cajun two step things, there were a couple of guys dying to try their hands at a twirl. Let’er buck! I am going for a beer. Our wives certainly weren’t at a lack for dance partners and whenever Shawn and I departed for refreshments or to look at some bike oddity, the attention was thick around them. I figured there was some safety in numbers and Naomi’s dance quota is higher than mine so I was cool with that so long as they didn’t bill me for services.

At one point, Shawn and I sidled up to a fireplug of a man with a fully furred neck-less head and face, making him look like the lion on the Wizard of Oz. Shawn introduced me and I noticed his right hand had 4 giant gold rings on it. Fighting rings he said. He was a jeweler and a brawler. The rings were solid gold and varied from olive to small plum-sized and each bore some carefully carved effigy. There was a lion with open mouth, the usual skull and crossbones, a reclining female form. He said he could carve anything in gold including my wife’s breasts. The idea, at $6000 a ring, was to have a legitimized form of brass knuckles — said gold was good for its weight — and when a solid blow was landed it would leave a base relief imprint of your ring in the opponent’s jaw. Said he had lost a small ruby from the lion’s eye just the week before. Har har har, all in good recreational fighting fun I guess. When I handled the ring and made a joking gesture to run he simply said he would have shot me before I cleared the campfire. I guess he was packing heat which made the rings seem a bit redundant. Never take a ring to a gunfight.

Finally the girls had had enough of the teetering and herky jerky dance partners and they took to dancing together to avoid the worst of it. Yes, they can handle themselves just fine but I could see where it would get wearisome after a while since at least half of the guys were blowing drunk. I didn’t relish having to ringlessly fight to get my wife back. One foggy headed fellow had a particular fancy for Sue but his propositions were so drunkenly garbled it was hard to make them out. The theme was that he was offering her a chance to watch him “go CRAZY” but we all agreed we had already accomplished that.

The final band was actually very good and we danced until 3:00 AM. New faces kept appearing in the crowd, sort of like a time-share or where people fell to horizontal, revived in true zombie form, and came back for more. Yes, it was Bacchanalian and hedonistic but basically, a well-behaved crowd.

Because as DD I had to shuttle people out the next morning to fetch bikes in the locked compound, we got to see the carnage. 10:00 AM and there were a lot of bleary eyed and head-holding folks hauling out of sweltering tents. They stared, appreciatively I think, at my well-muffled BMW F650’s quiet exhaust note as we almost silently pottered our way out of the compound.

Hawg Flatts, no, I don’t need to go back but sure am glad I went once.

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Lee Foote

Southerner by birth, Northerner by choice, Casual person by nature.