Gold Hill motorcycle rally held to honor 19-year-old who died in crash
By Steve Huffman
GOLD HILL ó Hundreds of ’em rolled into Gold Hill Historic Park Saturday morning, the sun dancing off their fenders, their motors rumbling like a thunderstorm on a hot summer night.
The event was a motorcycle rally in honor of Tyler Poole, a graduate of East Rowan High School who died in an automobile accident on April 9, 2004, at the age of 19. Saturday’s rally was the third annual in the young man’s honor.
Lloyd Fraley lives just outside Gold Hill and never fails to participate. He owns a late-model Harley-Davidson and other bikes, but on Saturday rode something significantly more simple ó a 1980 Honda CB750.
It’s an attention-getter.
“You see a lot of people look at it, then stop and grin,” Fraley said of the cycle. “They always tell me, ‘I had one of those when I was younger.’ ”
Fraley’s Honda shows 36,000 miles. It’s a good-looking bike that’s likely to be around for many more years.
So, Fraley said, is the rally. Hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators gathered among the trees that line the historic park, escaping the worst of the summer heat.
“You meet a lot of nice people here,” Fraley said. “You see a lot of nice old bikes that you don’t see anywhere else.”
The rally is organized by Tyler Poole’s father, Gary. He said that following his son’s death, he was determined the young man be remembered, and for a period staged concerts in his honor.
Three years ago, Poole and Myron Goodman, his longtime friend, came up with the idea to instead stage a motorcycle rally. The event started strong and has only continued to grow.
Proceeds from the rally ó the majority of which comes from food sales ó go toward a college scholarship for a deserving young person.
Poole estimated there were about 175 motorcycles on display Saturday, significantly more than were shown the first two years.
“We had a great turnout,” he said, noting that next year a display of micro-midget race cars will be added to the rally.
Raymond Miller of Albemarle brought a pair of vintage Harley-Davidsons to the rally. The oldest of the bikes was a 1935 model. Miller said the Harley got its start as a police cycle, and he’s restored it to look like a N.C. Highway Patrol ride of the era.
The bike has long sat on display at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer and on Saturday was one of the more popular bikes in Gold Hill.
“This one creates probably more attention than any other one here,” Miller said.
He said old Harley-Davidsons are terrific investments even in these tough economic times. The restoration of an old motorcycle, Miller said, can easily take a year, but the demand for the finished product is hard to comprehend.
“Look at all the people stopping to look,” Miller said, motioning to his 1935 offering. “That shows how many are interested in it.”
Charlotte’s Frank Sifford owns big Harley-Davidsons and flashy BMW motorcycles. But on Saturday, he rode a 1977 Honda 550 Super Sport, a bike he bought from a co-worker only about a month ago.
The bike has been ridden only 9,000 miles and resembles greatly the day it was eased out of a dealer’s showroom in Roanoke, Va.
“I’ve got the original bill of sale,” Sifford said. “It was $1,800 out the door.”
He said last year marked the first time he’d attended the Gold Hill rally, and said he was plenty glad he came.
“I was really impressed with the quantity and quality of bikes on display,” Sifford said. “Especially the old American bikes. You can’t find this quality at many shows.”