Effie Hotchkiss and Her Cross-Country Motorcycle Adventure

Amidst the women’s suffrage movement, a historic journey unfolded five years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Effie and Avis Hotchkiss, a mother-daughter duo, embarked on a pioneering motorcycle expedition that etched their names into the annals of motorcycling history. Departing from Brooklyn, New York, on May 2, 1915, they set course for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, riding a 1915 Harley-Davidson F-11 motorcycle equipped with a sidecar. Effie, as quoted in the 1916 Harley-Davidson Enthusiast, expressed their simple motive: "We merely wanted to see America and considered that the three-speed Harley-Davidson for myself, and sidecar for mother and the luggage [were] best suited for the job."

Their journey wasn’t just a physical feat but also a testament to resilience amidst challenges. Effie's pre-trip motorcycle training and repair skills proved vital, yet improvisation became necessary when spare inner tubes ran out. Confronted with dreadful road conditions, they ingeniously utilized a blanket to fix a defunct tire. Enduring inclement weather and scorching temperatures, they pressed on, overcoming obstacles like muddy roads and wildlife encounters, including a rattlesnake and a coyote.

Arriving at the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco in August 1915, three months into their journey, they completed their round trip to Brooklyn by October, covering an approximate total of 9,000 miles. Their achievement was commemorated by Effie symbolically pouring Atlantic Ocean water into the Pacific.

Effie and Avis were not alone in their trailblazing endeavors. Other notable female moto-pioneers, such as Della Crewe, the Van Buren sisters, and Bessie Stringfield, also left indelible marks in motorcycle history. Fast forward to today, the number of female riders is steadily increasing, with manufacturers adapting to cater to this demographic. With nearly 1 in 5 riders being female according to the 2018 Motorcycle Industry Council report, the landscape of motorcycling is evolving. Andria Yu, MIC's director of communications, acknowledges this shift, affirming that more women are embracing motorcycles in various facets of life.

Effie and Avis’ courageous journey, along with the achievements of their fellow female riders, serves as a beacon of inspiration for modern-day female motorcyclists. Their audacious spirit not only challenged societal norms but also paved the way for a more inclusive and diverse motorcycling community. As women riders continue to carve their paths, they honor the legacy of those who blazed the trail before them, enriching the tapestry of motorcycling with their own unique stories and experiences.