by Frank Hyde
January 25, 1964
Only Stubby Spikes Hold Banking Cyclist Going 50 mph On Ice
Their hair points upward like an elongated crew cut, which leads one to wonder if they haven't been racing on ice as members of the local Chautauqua Lake Cyclists Club.
If racing or rallying on ice won't make one's hair stand on end, then nothing will.
Actually, though, it's not as frightening as it sounds, explained Leroy McCray, local Harley Davidson dealer and a club leader. "Some of them have spikes," he explained. "Let's go over and look at the cycle rigged up by Charles Boehler for ice racing."
We went, looked and really saw something.
Both wheels of Boehler's machine looked as if it had run over a porcupine - then turned around and run over it again.
"I bradded her up and she works pretty good," grinned Boehler, one of the best all-around men with a motorcycle in this part of the country. In fact, Boehler and McCray are the only two Class A drivers, the distinction being earned from points won in competition.
"Snow tires are all right, but they won't hold on the sharp turns," McCray explained. "Now you take Charlie, here, he can lay right over until his knee brushes the ice. It makes all the difference in the world in competition."
Between 15 and 20 members of the club have been rallying rather than racing on Hildom's Pond, Hartson Road, near Falconer.
"Some of us will go to Erie later to compete in a regulation meet on Lake Erie," McCray added, "and this gives us an opportunity to hone up for it."
Racing on ice isn't new for either automobiles or motorcycles, but such events are an innovation among area cyclists. "We rallied several times last year and planned a racing meet on Chautauqua Lake, but it seems there's a law against vehicles on the lake," McCray said.
Tires are spiked with about 200 carriage bolts each. Holes are punched in the tire and the bolts are inserted from the inside with a re-liner on top. A washer and nut are applied outside, the nut then being tightened. Once the long, tiresome job is completed, the machine is ready to do its stuff on even glare ice without skidding.
Taking part at Hildom's were 64 Scat and 61 Sprint Harleys, a Greeves and the Japanese Suzukis. Heavier of the machines weigh in the neighborhood of 275 pounds, and the lightweights 190, so skid-outs at high speed can be something, especially if the rider finds himself on the bottom, slithering along the ice with his machine, for a change, taking the ride.
"But there isn't much danger and we have a lot of fun," McCray explained.
Watching cycles zoom and zip at speeds up to 50 miles per hour across and around the ice, one gathers the impression it can be an exciting but a good place to be from unless you are a handle man in a cycle saddle.