Betcha didn’t know that May is Women Riders Month. It’s a Harley Davidson-created annual campaign to celebrate and promote women who ride motorcycles. And seriously – who doesn’t dig a chick who digs bikes?
Turns out, women’s love of motorcycles is just about as old as the motorcycle itself. Alas, it was not always so that a lady could enjoy a ride without drawing the ire of proper society. Remember that line in Titanic where Rose was shocked at Jack’s suggestion that she ride a horse not sidesaddle but with one leg dangling on each side? Scandalous! Yet, there were a few bold souls with enough grit to take on the taboo and defy the rules of social acceptance of the day. Grab a can of your favorite TauBu high octane beer, pop the top and enjoy a look back at a few of history’s motorcycle-riding would-be TauBu Girls:
Effie and Avis Hotchkiss: As soon as 20-year-old Effie Hotchkiss felt the call of the open road – and a came into a nice chunk of inheritance cash – she headed straight for her nearest Harley Davidson dealership (yes – they were around back then. The first opened in 1904 in Chicago). She blew it all on a 1915 3-speed V-twin and a plan for a cross-country trek. At first, mom Avis said “no way!” But that open-road fever is catching and Avis turned out to be one cool mama. She finally okayed the trip with one caveat – that Effie take her along in a sidecar. The two roared out of Brooklyn and hit San Francisco two months later, just in time for the World’s Fair. Their transcontinental trek made history as the first for women motorcycle riders.
Bessie Stringfield: Here’s a would-be TauBu Girl if we ever saw one. Bessie was more than a gal with spunk. She was an African American woman with the fortitude to stick it to Jim Crow in a very public way. Though it could easily have gotten her killed, Bessie busted through racial and gender barriers making eight solo cross-country tours at a time when it was a rare feat for women and a downright dangerous one for African Americans. She also raced – and won – flat track competitions disguised as a man and proudly served as a World War II United States Army civilian motorcycle dispatch rider. Top that, Oprah!
Dorothy “Dot” Robinson: Bike history buffs know her as the “First Lady of Motorcycling.” In 1940, she co-founded Motor Maids, the nation’s first organized women’s motorcycle club. The club was granted a charter by the American Motorcycle Association the next year. She went on to become the first woman to win an AMA national championship and paved the way for other women riders to man up against the men in the competitive arena.
If you’re a modern day “Motor Maid” we want to hear from you. Post a pic on the TauBu Facebook fan page. And be sure to raise a TauBu high octane beer toast to the pioneers of women’s riding.