2004-04-08 / Little Old Canarsie

Bicycles Were A Big Thing In The Early Years

John Denton

When bicycle riding was at its height in the early teens, cars were very few & Henry Ford was coming out with his Model T, with its planetary transmission, which was not a stick shift. All You had to do was push down on clutch pedal for first speed and let it all the way back and You were in high speed when you could get all of 25 miles per hour with it. Not too many owned one of them.

It sold for around $400 and a special planetary license was needed to drive it, SO most of our young men formed a club called "The Canarsie Wheelmen" and their headquarters in-a, all building on E. 92nd St. near Skidmore Lane.

They had a bicyle track made between Ave. K and Ave. L, which had on each end a large hill. The track was flat all the distance on both sides; about a half mile track all around that went from E. 94th St. to E. 92nd and the start was in the middle where E. 93rd St. was to come through later on.

The races were held here on Decoration, July 4th and Labor Day in Sept. They also had a juvenile race on the track at times with Ray McAvoy and Stephen Hawkshurst, son of Henry Hawkshurst the farmer from down Church Lane. They would (just the two of them) race for a prize like a watch or a ten dollar gold piece.


Bicycle riders would come barreling along Avenue L, over the tracks at East 95 Street (above) and then to East 92 Street and north to Avenue J, usually on special holidays. 		             Photo: Ray Luck collectionBicycle riders would come barreling along Avenue L, over the tracks at East 95 Street (above) and then to East 92 Street and north to Avenue J, usually on special holidays. Photo: Ray Luck collection

There was a spill once in a while at the turn on the hills when a couple of bikes got tangled ‘ up and some times a couple of riders would wind up with a broken arm or dislocated shoulder blade. But after recovery they looked for the next racing day. When the bikes needed repairs they would be taken to Archie McDonald who had his shop in the rear of his home on E. 92nd St. across from M.P. Church. This was a great sport at that time for all the Young men of "Little Old Canarsie."

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