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Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'
Sally Guard
December 30, 1991
Proud owners of antique bicycles rolled into the IVCA world championships for vintage racing
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December 30, 1991

Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'

Proud owners of antique bicycles rolled into the IVCA world championships for vintage racing

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"A mile from the finish," said a winded Scott afterward, "I saw all these people up ahead on highwheelers, and I thought they were spectators at the finish line. So I started my sprint!" The highwheelers were actually some of the stragglers completing their second of three 10K laps.

Ten minutes after Scott's victory, five highwheelers streaked toward the finish, each rider's body bent far over his handlebars as he strained for additional speed. A heated Ordinary-versus-Eagle battle developed as Ross Hill, a 39-year-old manager of product engineering for the Motor Wheel Corporation in Lansing. Mich., furiously pedaled his Ordinary to the finish against Jamie Woodward, a Digital Equipment computer engineer from Merrimack, N.H. The techie on the Eagle won by a second, but Hill still took Ordinary honors.

Woodward's wife, Lora, also a computer engineer, placed eighth overall, and first among the women, in the highwheel category. The Woodwards' is the ideal Wheelmen romance. They were introduced by their parents, all of whom are avid antique bike collectors and riders.

While exuberance over bike collecting predominates at Wheelmen and IVCA events, the element of competition is what gives them grit. After his disappointing second-place finish to Hill in the Ordinary division of the 30K, Graber not only expounded on the joy of riding old bikes but also rationalized his defeat.

"I drove here from Sacramento, and I want to do everything I can," said Graber, who pointed out with a smile that while he was grinding it out in the Century the previous day, Hill was resting. Other healthy rivalries would be revealed the next day.

Saturday began with the 1,200-meter men's hard-tire safety race. Walter Branche, a bike historian who works for Schwinn, held a 40-meter lead most of the way. But then Pariani came roaring off the final turn, passed Branche with 20 meters to go and earned his second victory. Afterward Pariani, a swimming-pool builder from Lake Helen, Fla., said, "I've known Branche since 1969, and he and I are tremendously competitive."

"He's the one who competes." said Branche with a sniff. "I just give him someone to compete against."

As Branche spoke, Tammy Haley, a 36-year-old phys-ed teacher, used his bike to beat her Plainfield neighbor and friend Carolyn Carter in the women's 1,200-meter hard-tire safety race. When asked whether he would take part in other races, Branche replied, "I have a machine. It's that red boneshaker there. But I'm not going to race it."

So it was that the 1,200-meter boneshaker race featured only one entrant—Steve Carter. Boneshakers, made in the late 1860s and early '70s, were the first pedal-driven bicycles and were so called because of the torturous ride their wooden wheels provided. But Carter's three solo laps in the boneshaker event were surely a treat compared with the skullshaker awaiting him in the 200.

The six highwheel sprints combined high wheels with high speed to create high drama and, as anyone who saw Carter's spill would acknowledge, high anxiety. The four cyclists in the 1,600-meter Eagle Flying Start began the race in mounted position and already in motion. Within a few seconds Jamie Woodward opened a huge lead, and he went on to victory, beating Dean Nicholson by 200 meters. In his next event Woodward rode an Ordinary to win the 200 heat that was the downfall of Carter and Gabrick. Meanwhile, Lora Woodward, who was also riding an Ordinary, won the women's 200 meters and the women's one-mile race.

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