LACONIA — Bailey Sisson, a 23-year-old motorcycle rider from Northfield, Massachusetts, posted the best time in the inaugural Tower Street hill climb held Tuesday at the Weirs.
She didn’t know that her 11.5-second first run was the best time of the day at that point and would hold up for two more runs, and she said she didn’t much care.
“I didn’t look at the number after I crossed the finish line," Sisson said. "It doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m just here for the fun.”
She was riding a 1967 Triumph Daytona 500, one of about 20 vintage motorcycles taking part in the event – sponsored by the United States Classic Racing Association – that was designed to recreate the early days of motorcyclists descending on the Weirs 100 years ago.
Some of the motorcycles were as old as the event itself, like a 1917 Indian Scout with a sidecar that was driven to the top of the hill by Tom Crompton of Bedford.
It wasn’t there as a competitive cycle but it provided the good-sized crowd that lined Tower Hill with a sense of what the original events on the approximately quarter-mile course might have looked like.
Bob Coy, president of the Racing Association, was as happy as anyone could be following the event, which was extended to three runs up the hill instead of the two that were originally planned.
“It couldn’t have worked better,” said Coy. “There was a good crowd and they stayed behind the barriers that were put up. The property owners next to the course were really pleased with how smoothly it ran.”
He said he is hoping to bring the event back next year and make it a permanent part of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said he was confident when the idea of bringing back the hill climb was first proposed that the neighbors would support it.
“It’s something new and they had a few concerns, but when they saw it happening, they really liked it,” he said.
Vintage motorcycle riders who took part said it was a real thrill to participate and they hoped it would be brought back year after year.
Creighton Dumarest of Hillsboro, a retired BMW mechanic who moved to New Hampshire several years ago, said it was his first-ever hill climb and he loved it.
A road racer since 1973, Dumarst was riding a 1963 BMW R-27 and said he was impressed by the way the race was run and the cheers from the spectators.
“I sure want to see it again next year,” he said.
Lewis Leonard of South Daytona Beach, Florida, driving a 1938 Indian Scout, said, “This was a fantastic experience. It’s great to see the old cycles still making it up the hill.”
Henry Syphers, 71, who lives near Hartford, Connecticut, was riding a 1966 250cc Suzuki X-6, known in its day as ‘’the giant killer” for its acceleration, which got it to 100 miles per hour quicker than the 500cc and 650cc cycles of that era.
But he started his run in second gear and was really slow in reaching the top.
“I goofed up, but I’ll do better next run,” said Syphers.
Larry Crowe, program coordinator for motorcycle rider training for the state of New Hampshire, drove a 1964 BMW R6-Z, and said what was happening with the hill climb shows how important it is for motorcycle riders to continue to improve their skills and find new ways to enjoy their machines.
Coy said the announcer for the hill climb was Richard Chambers, a former AMA racer from the 1980s who is also the announcer for the Daytona 200 motorcycle race.
“He flew in all the way from California just to be here for this hill climb,” Coy said.