Text and Photos by Robert F. Bukaty
RAYMOND, MAINE – Ask a biker why they race motorcycles on ice and you’ll most likely hear something like this: “Because I’m an adrenaline junkie…”
That’s exactly what Jamie-Lynn Worden, 25, of Gorham, said after an exhilarating practice ride on a circular track plowed on Sebago Lake’s Jordan Bay a few weeks ago.
Worden got in several quick laps around the track while her fiancé and nine-month-old son watched from the edge of the frozen lake.
Ice racers use dirt bikes equipped with studded tires for traction. The tires, which sell for about $500 each, are put on a lathe to grind down the knobs on the right side of the tire. Then studs are put in the remaining knobs, enabling the riders to lean severely into left turns without sliding out.
Vito LaVopa, another rider out that day on Jordan Bay, is also an admitted adrenaline junkie. He says it’s an addiction he had since 1967. That’s when his father took him out for a short ride on a bike he was fixing.
“He took me down the cul-de-sac on the tank and back,” said Lavopa, 50, a plumber from Windham.
Lavopa says he has always had a bike since age 11. On the ice Lavopa races a Kawasaki 250.
“I ride a high-end booster. At the rear wheel I’ve got about 180 horsepower, “ he said. Although he figures he hits about 50 miles per hour on the straightaways, he says the thrill of riding on ice doesn’t just come from the speed.
Anybody can twist the throttle and go fast, ” said Lavopa. “But the corners are where it’s at.”