As early as the 1910′s, female riders did everything the men did, from long-distance rides to enjoying lazy Sunday afternoon rides with friends. In 1915, Avis and Effie Hotchkiss crossed America on a motorcycle, twice! The magazine, Enthusiast, which began publication in 1916, bears many early accounts of women and motorcycling.
As the decades progressed, more and more individual women distinguished themselves as great enthusiasts. Vivian Bales of Albany, Georgia drew attention for her 5,000 mile round trip journey from her home through the upper Midwest and back. Bales would appear on two different covers of the Enthusiast, and was later dubbed “The Enthusiast Girl.” Dorothy “Dot” Robinson , wife of Harley Davidson dealer Earl Robinson, competed through the Depression alongside men in endurance races. Among Robinson’s accomplishments were a 1940 victory in the punishing Jack Pine Enduro race in Michigan and several high-placing finishes in other years. Trailblazer Bessie Stringfield left her mark on the sport of motorcycling by being the first African-American woman to complete a solo cross-country ride. During the ’30s and ’40s she traveled through all of the lower 48 states and rode abroad in Europe, Brazil, and Haiti.
The 1930′s saw the founding of the Motor Maids , the world’s first women’s motorcycle club. Founded by Wellesley College graduate Linda Dugeau, the Motor Maids have been a club home to Dot Robinson and countless others into the present day. More modern times have witnessed the creation of the clubs Women in the Wind and Women on Wheels, which boast large numbers of members and local chapters across North America.