Ripping On The Ice

Article By: Mitch “Magoo” Bodine

Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The May 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

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It was a balmy 12 degrees below zero as we pulled into McKinley Marina on the shore of Lake Michigan. The lake was frozen so thick that we looked through what seemed like a mile of clear ice in spots as we walked out to the slow wake area sign on the edge of the jetties. The air was thick and silent, peaceful fisherman’s bob houses showed little signs of life as we waited for the scene to come alive. It was Sunday morning and the last day of Mama Tried in Milwaukee, for us it would be the last event we would hit before we left town: the Ice Racing.

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I’ve been involved with motorcycle racing for about 45 years now, motocross, flat track and road racing. This was my first time seeing ice racing. I was blown away to say the least. I couldn’t believe how hard the guys throw the bikes into the corners. I talked to Warren Heir about it a little bit, he told me that they can ride at that location as much as they want… no organized racing there though. He guessed about fifty bikes showed up on that Sunday. We even had a few National number guys putting in hot laps. I also got a little lesson on the tires. You can buy the screws and do it yourself or pay $450-$600 a set and have them professionally done. The screws come in three different lengths, AMA legal = short, Canadian legal = taller and MF1 = crazy, for free riding only. The guys that where dragging their handle bars on the ice where using the MF1’s I’m guessing! Most of the guys switch their bike to race flat track when the ice season is over. A huge variety of bikes where there. An old Ducati 450 single was unloading as we were getting out of the van.

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Some of the high lights where Matt Walksler on his 1916 Harley Cutdown ice racer. Matt was definitely putting on a show and not showing any mercy on that old Harley! Lee Fealy was there on his 1942 Harley WLA flatty. We got to the ice early enough to see Lee’s trick for starting his bike, he gets towed by his buddy riding an old 1974 Yamaha TY trials bike. Lee has become somewhat of a social media star with his pictures featured all over Instagram. Lee was dressed with riding gear about the same age as his bike, very cool. Ben “Bender” Boyle was putting some nice hot laps with his Gen Shovel also.

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If you have never seen motorcycle riding in such harsh conditions, under such a different set of physical rules for both rider and machine, I suggest you check out some ice racing the next time you get a chance. I know I want to get something ready to bring for next year!

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