Women Riders

Women Riders

Pearl Hoel - The First Lady of Sturgis

August 31, 2010
The first motorcycle rally in Sturgis was held in 1937 by the Jackpine Gypsies, a customer-based motorcycle club of the Indian dealership owned by Clarence and Pearl Hoel. The Gypsies invited the Harley riding Rapid City Pioneers MC for a “field day”. The first event was called “The Black Hills Classic” and was primarily a single race of nine participants watched by a small audience. In subsequent years, the main focus of the rally would be racing and stunts. Pearl Hoel was born in Ohio in 1905, and her family relocated to Rapid City when she was five. After high…

I Am Fluffy, but I Am Not Fluff

July 31, 2010
The older I get, the worse the ADD gets. I was almost finished with this month’s column when I got sidetracked looking up motorcycle slang. I am usually not one to toss about slang words, so a lot of what I found I thought to be a bit absurd. Also, slang tends to be regional in non-biker circles; biker slang is more universal, but I am sure there are some words and phrases that are regional. While perusing these sites that had slang definitions, a few caught my eye. They are below, along with my smartass comments. Back Warmer -…

Two Years Already?

June 30, 2010
Well, Ladies, this month marks my second year with Cycle Connections. How am I doing so far? When my old friend and fellow Cycle Connections contributor, Eric Rossiter, first mentioned that this column would be up for grabs, I had my doubts about his sanity. But my friend and chauffeur, Don, concurred, and I thought “What the hell. I’ll try it.” Well, Mike hasn’t asked me to go yet, so I guess I will be staying. Like everyone else, I went through a lot in these past two years. I almost became a true rider before I got stupid. No…

The Loud Pipes Myth

May 31, 2010
It is, quite possibly, the most believed myth in all of motorcycling: “Loud pipes save lives.” Get a group of riders together and start them talking, and stories will emerge about how near misses were averted because a driver “heard me coming.” I have heard this so much; I decided to do a little digging and a small experiment. First, the digging. I could find absolutely no statistics to back the loud pipes claim. None. This is not to say that noise does not figure into preventing collisions, and in fact, it just might, but nothing supports the idea with…

Vivian Bales: The Original Motorcycle Cover Girl (1929)

April 30, 2010
Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been around since 1903, when four young men built the first one. It would be 13 years later before the debut of the Harley-Davidson magazine, The Enthusiast, which is still being published today. Vivian Bales was only 7 years old and couldn’t have known the history she would be making when she was 20 years old and decided to write a letter to the editor of The Enthusiast.Vivian Bales was born in Florida in 1909 and raised in Albany, Georgia. After high school graduation, she earned a living teaching dance and, having saved a tidy sum rather…

April Ramblings

March 31, 2010
Are you a biker chick? If so, how many bikinis do you own? Ever sit backwards on your bike in one with your spiked heel shoes up in the air? Me neither. Despite the proliferation of women in “the lifestyle,” the stereotypical “biker chick” remains firmly ingrained in the minds of many. And if you are not a bikini clad, fake-boobed blonde straddling a chopper, you are most certainly a hardened, spike-haired gal who gets mistaken for a man rather often. Women like Theresa Wallach, Effie Hotchkiss, Bessie Stringfield and Faye Taylour broke the mold in many different ways and…

Women in Motorcycling History: Theresa Wallach-Part 2

February 28, 2010
Theresa Wallach dreamed of touring North America by motorcycle and in 1947, headed for the United States to fulfill that dream. In two and a half years, she covered over 32,000 miles through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, taking odd jobs along the way to support her journey. In 1952, she returned to England only to find a depressed economy and what she later called “narrowed horizons.” She returned to the U.S. and settled in Chicago, making her living as a motorcycle mechanic. Eventually she would open her own dealership selling British bikes. It was at her dealership that her…

Women in Motorcycling History: Theresa Wallach-Part 1

January 31, 2010
At an age when some women might be content to play with grandchildren, Theresa Wallach was “playing” with motorcycles. In 1973, three years after the success of her book, Wallach sold her motorcycle repair shop in Chicago, moved to Phoenix and founded the Easy Riding Academy. She was 64 years old. Theresa was born in 1909 in London, England, growing up near the factories that produced the British bikes Norton, Triumph, AJS and BSA. She got to know the workers, the test riders, racers and engineers and learned to ride from some of her motorcycling friends. Her attempt to join…

Women in Motorcycle History: The Van Buren Sisters

December 31, 2009
Augusta Van Buren and Adeline Van Buren were born before the turn of the 20th century, but their story is anything but ancient. Descendents of US president Martin Van Buren, they were “society girls” who wanted to prove that women could withstand riding motorcycles over the then-treacherous terrain of the continent every bit as good as a man, years before women had the right to vote. Augusta was the elder of the two, born in March of 1884, and Adeline was born in July of 1889. Along with their brother Albert, they were raised in New York City, enjoying an…

Women in Motorcycling History - Fay Taylour

November 30, 2009
Fay Taylour has been called The Queen of the Speedway and Flying Fay from Dublin (although she was born in Birr). Born in 1904 into what then was considered a well-to-do family, Fay began riding motorcycles while attending Alexandra College. After graduating, Fay moved to England and began her racing career. Motorcycle racing was a new spectacle in the UK, Australia, and parts of Europe in the late 1920s, and a woman racer made it more so. Fay has stated that she decided to “have a go” at motorcycle speedway racing to “mingle with the English boys” during the Crystal…

My Take on Charity Runs

October 31, 2009
In just a two-weekend span of time in September, New Jersey saw no less than 30 charity ride events. Many of these were misnamed “First Annual,” and close to half were “poker runs.” We are all probably familiar with this type of ride, whereby the participants have several stops and choose a playing card at each to complete a hand. Best hand wins whatever pot the sponsors put up.Hold on to your helmets, ladies, as I am about to mount my soapbox. At what point did these sponsors and/or organizers of many of these poker runs decide it would be…

Taking and Making Great Photos

September 30, 2009
Many who ride take pictures. Perhaps some keep a digital camera tucked into a saddlebag or have the co-rider bring one along for those leisurely country road cruises. After all, you never know when the shutterbug will bite and how many of us walk back into our houses whining, “I wish I had a camera today!” As the colors of autumn start to appear, now is the time to get out that camera, take that country ride and capture the beauty around you. What to do once we get home and want to display the photos we’ve taken is the…

Reviews, Updates and Coming Attractions

August 31, 2009
It is always nice to hear from readers, and I got a couple of e-mails in July from two book authors. One, Christina Shook, has published a very nice “coffee table” book entitled Chicks on Bikes and was gracious enough to send me a manuscript of it. Christina is a professional photographer and a rider who wanted to cast aside the stereotypes of women who ride. The result is this 156-page compilation of biographies, essays, and portraits of real women riders from all walks of life. If you are looking for a 20-something buxom girl in a bikini stretched out…

My Adventures with a Rebel

July 31, 2009
In a show of hands, how many of you were able to just hop on your bike, push the start button and take off? That many? I am not one of you, apparently. After years of chickening out whenever the opportunity arose, I decided to try learning how to ride. On a warm June evening, my friend and chauffeur, Don, brought his Honda Rebel 250 and we began my lessons on how to ride. I have a very long way to go. The First Day My first mistake was in knowing the lever on the right is the brake. It…

Have a Little Cheese with That Whine?

June 30, 2009
Well, it has finally happened. I think I have writer’s block. After months of writing about safety, women in motorcycling history, the evolution of women in motorcycling and even the Patriot Guard, I cannot seem to come up with a good column idea. Then I thought, this is a column for women riders. While seeing a woman on a bike now really doesn’t get the stares it used to, we are, for all intents and purposes, a “different” breed. Hold on, I am about to go sexist. It has been my observation this past half century or so that males…

Ramblin’

May 31, 2009
After what seemed to be the longest winter on record, spring has finally arrived in the Great Northeast and that means…bikes, bikes and more bikes. Unfortunately, along with the warm days, longer nights, and fresh air comes an increase in motorcycle accidents. This seems to taper off as the weather stays or becomes warmer, but for the first few weeks we can be sure to see article after article in the newspaper about crashes. There are probably a few reasons for the proliferation of accidents, not the least of which is there are naturally more bikes on the road. However,…

Women in Motorcycle History - Linda DuGeau & Dot Robinson

April 30, 2009
Linda DuGeau was born May 15, 1913, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As a 19-year-old student at Wellesley, she learned to ride an old Harley-Davidson JD with her then-boyfriend, Bud, whom she would later marry. After graduating, Linda worked in Boston, where she commuted on her motorcycle through the city’s narrow streets. While it was a little unusual for women to be seen riding in the 1930s, Linda found others in magazines and began corresponding with some of them. One of them, Carol DuPont, told Linda about a group of women flyers who called themselves the Ninety-nine Club. Thinking there should…

Women in Motorcycle History - Bessie Stringfield

March 31, 2009
Bessie Stringfield was born in Jamaica in 1911 and came to the US as a small child but was orphaned at the age of 5. She was raised by an Irish woman whose name Bessie was never allowed to divulge but whom, Bessie had said, “gave me whatever I wanted. When I was in high school I wanted a motorcycle. And even though good girls didn’t ride motorcycles, I got one.” Bessie was 16 when she received her first of what would become 27 bikes, a 1928 Indian Scout. Although she had never ridden before, she took to it like…

Women in Motorcycle History - Effie Hotchkiss

February 28, 2009
Effie Hotchkiss was a 20-year-old bank clerk on Wall Street who daydreamed about taking to the open road on a motorcycle. The year was 1915. Motorcycles had been in use for almost 30 years and were becoming popular with women who had used bicycles for their previous mode of transportation. The US House of Representatives in January had rejected a proposal giving women the right to vote. There were still cowboys and Indians, paved roads were a rarity, and women did not travel alone across country. Effie, using a small inheritance from the sale of a family farm, bought a…

RC’s, MC’s, and Women

January 31, 2009
There are fundamental differences between riding clubs and motorcycle clubs. Motorcycle clubs (MCs) are the more exclusive of the two. Like any private organization, MC’s typically have a board of directors led by a president and have a protocol distinctive to the club for accepting members. Members pay dues and attend scheduled meetings to discuss club issues. They often are exclusive to makes of bikes, most notably Harley-Davidson, as well as being exclusive to the gender of their members. Women-only MC’s have increased in numbers, but their legacies are short and traditions are still being developed. In researching women’s MC’s,…