Editors Desk

This journal is dedicated to 4 very important entities that are recognized during the month of May: Our men and women in the armed forces past & present, women who ride, Mothers, and Motorcycle Awareness – Look Twice, Save a Life! When it comes to our military we must always remember one very important fact, “Our lives would be very different if not for these brave souls.” The day we start taking our Freedom for granted, is the day their sacrifices go in vein.

Motorcycles at war…

Over one hundred years ago four men watched as their dream, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, rolled out of a little wooden shack in Milwaukee, Wis. Thanks to good timing and the lugged capability of such two-wheeled machines, Harley –along with motorcycles from such other companies as Indian in America, BMW in Germany and Triumph in Great Britain–have played an enduring role in military transportation. The Army began using motorcycles as early as 1913, and in 1916 the Harley-Davidson Motor-cycle Company’s product became the vehicle of choice for GEN John J. Pershing’s pursuit of Pancho Villa. By 1917 roughly one-third of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles produced were sold to the U.S. military. Meanwhile, European armies had begun using fast and agile motorcycles as reconnaissance and messenger vehicles, and even as ambulances. Many motorcycles used during World War I were equipped with special sidecars mounting machine guns. By the time America entered the war, the motorcycle was widely used in combat, communications and transportation. The Army used an estimated 20,000 motorcycles during the war. In fact, the first American to enter Germany after the ceasefire was reported to be motorcycle dispatch rider CPL Roy Holtz. As America prepared to enter World War II, Harley Davidson again answered the call by producing a motorcycle to withstand the harsh African deserts. But, by the time production was completed on the bike, U.S. forces had moved through Africa and the motorcycle was slowly being replaced by the jeep. The Germans continued to benefit from the maneuverability of military motorcycles and gave them a new mission, that of tactical assault, something the United States would use again in later conflicts. In all, Harley Davidson produced some 90,000 military motorcycles during the War. At the end of the war many veterans focused on returning to society. Many felt a need to recapture the thrill they felt during the war as members of tank units or bomber crews. One veteran, Willie Forkner, an avid motorcyclist before the war, decided to create a motorcycle club. And so began the era of the “outlaw biker.” These riders were thrill seekers and were considered to be menaces by some. A biker stereotype became the basis for biker movies, magazines and even clothing lines, which resembled military uniforms. In the 1960s motorcycles were used by Special Forces troops in Vietnam. After the war America again saw returning veterans taking to the streets on their two-wheeled machines. In 1988 the veterans decided it was time to ride for a purpose. A motorcycle caravan called “Rolling Thunder” rolled into Washington, D.C., that Memorial Day weekend to bring attention to the plight of those American service members still missing from the Korean and Vietnam wars. Each year since then, hundreds of thousands of people have ridden through the nation’s capital and met at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to pay homage to those who didn’t return. Military motorcycles again appeared in a combat zone in 1991, seeing service during Operation Desert Storm. The vehicle’s ability to keep going, even after the road ends, was an important factor in Afghanistan, as it is today in Iraq, where the terrain doesn’t always allow access for heavier, four-wheeled vehicles. Along with their original missions of reconnaissance and carrying dispatches to the front, the Army has used motorcycles to move small amounts of medical supplies to the front lines when heavier vehicles couldn’t make it. The compact maneuverability and speed of these two-wheeled vehicles continue to make them an important mode of military transportation, and an evolving part of military history.

One of the early calls to celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States was the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in 28 February 1909, in the US, by which time Anna Jarvis had already begun her national campaign in the US. It is now celebrated in many countries on March 8. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.

“She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in the law making official the holiday in the U.S., by the U.S. Congress on bills, and by other U.S. presidents on their declarations.[

The modern Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in March, April, or May as a day to honor mothers and motherhood.  In the UK and Ireland, it follows the old traditions of Mothering Sunday, celebrated in March/April.

Mothering Sunday is a Christian festival celebrated throughout Europe that falls on the 4th Sunday in Lent. Secularly it became a celebration of motherhood. It is increasingly being called Mother’s Day, although in countries other than the UK and Ireland that holiday has other origins. In the UK it is considered synonymous with Mother’s Day as celebrated in other countries.

Women have been riding motorcycles as long as men and the exploits of some women riders are just as daring and mind-boggling as those of their male peers.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s when motorcycles were little more than bicycles with motors attached — Americans bought the machines for transportation, not recreation. Families could afford motorcycles at the time, but not cars. So it wasn’t all that uncommon to see women riders.

The Van Buren sisters were among the first to ride coast to coast, traveling aboard an Indian Power Plus in 1916. They were the first women to ride motorized vehicles to the summit of Pikes Peak, accomplishing that feat in the same year.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Theresa Wallach of England became well known for racing and long-distance riding, besides serving as a dispatch rider for the British Army during World War II.

Back in America, African-American Bessie Stringfield made eight solo cross-country trips during the 1930s and 1940s and rode her motorcycle in the Deep South at a time when it wasn’t safe to do so. Meanwhile, Dot Robinson rode and raced in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. In fact, she is credited with opening the door for women in organized motorcycling competition.

Following World War II, increasingly more women got involved in motorcycling. Margaret Wilson has logged more than 550,000 miles on motorcycles, showing that women are just as passionate about the sport as men. In fact, dozens of female Harley riders have blazed historic trails, including the mother and daughter team of Avis and Effie Hotchkiss who in 1915 crossed America – twice – on a three-speed V-Twin Harley-Davidson with a sidecar.

In the modern era, now-movie stuntwoman Debbie Evans is considered a pioneer in observed trials competition, a sport that calls for expertise on a narrow, marked, twisty maze of a course. She successfully competed in U.S. trials in the late 1970s.

These are all women who have made significant contributions to motorcycling, and who have earned places in the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame. There are other women today who are also making their marks, such as Ashley Fiolek in motocross and Leslie Porterfield in land-speed record competition, who may, one day, earn their own spots in that hallowed Hall. Fiolek – 20, began riding 50cc minicycles at age 7. In 2008, in her rookie season, she earned the No. 1 place in the Women’s Motocross Association championship. And for 2009 she has earned a factory ride with the Honda team. What makes this young woman’s story especially remarkable is that she is deaf. Leslie Porterfield, 32, holds three land-speed records and is a member of the Bonneville 200-mph club. She was named the 2008 AMA Racing Female Rider of the Year. Today, we have our very own Jody Perewitz, who currently holds 7 National and 1 World Land Speed records.

There are more women in motorcycling than ever before. But every woman, from the very first, who slid onto the seat of a motorcycle to the Fioleks and Porterfields of today, has made a contribution to the world of motorcycling.

May marks the 8Th annual Women Riders Month, which celebrates women who already ride and inspires other women to grab life by the handlebars. There are several significant events to take note of, the first being International Female Ride Day which was held on May 7th, 2016 and is now in its tenth year. Women devotedly prepare to ride and unite on this synchronized day around the world. The United States, Canada, Australia, England, The Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Poland, Israel, Qatar, Denmark and Russia are just some of the countries that will be participating in the campaign in compelling numbers, and which has been endorsed by key motorcycle industry leaders, renowned female rider clubs, and international governing bodies such as Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).

Back in 2008, the latest “official” statistics from the Motorcycle Industry Council, the only U.S. organization counting women riders on a large scale, showed that 23 percent, or 5.7 million, of the 25 million Americans who rode a motorcycle were female.  According to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s 2011 statistics, 25 percent of all motorcyclists are female—that’s one out of every four riders. Since 2003, the number of women riding a motorcycle has increased by 24 percent, making women the fastest growing group of new riders. It’s not just a guy thing anymore. If you take a good look around, there are more female riders now than ever before.

During Women Riders Month, Harley-Davidson dealerships around the country will shine its headlight on women riders by holding women-rider-oriented events, including a series of organized women-only rides. Check with your local Harley dealer, or just grab your girlfriends and map out your own path on the open road. Ride Safe!

Live & Let Live

Lee Sheridan, Spike & Chloe`