Wednesday, 1 April 2015


Avis and Effie Hotchkiss were a mother and daughter from Brooklyn, New York. In 1915, they set out on a journey from New York to San Francisco and back, some 9000 miles, on a Harley-Davidson sidecar combination. This was just 12 years after the first Harley was produced, but while much of the USA was still unpaved and entire areas of the country were still regarded as unexplored frontier (Arizona and New Mexico had only been ratified as part of the US just three years before). 

And why did they do it? Because they wanted to. Effie said; "We merely wanted to see America and considered that the Three-Speed Harley-Davidson for myself and sidecar for mother and the luggage best suited for the job." 

21-year-old Effie had originally bought the bike to travel across America on her own, but her mother wasn’t so keen on that idea and insisted that they attached a sidecar to the Harley so she could come along too! They rode through temperatures in excess of 120 degree Fahrenheit, faced mud, desert and rattlesnakes, they repaired a puncture with a rolled blanket and, just by making the trip one way, they became the first women to cross the United States on a motorcycle … and then they turned around and did it all over again.
Effie did, however, gain more than just that accolade. In San Francisco, she ran over a chap who stepped in front of her motorcycle. He was bowled over in more ways than one because he went onto marry her.

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