Riding Tips & Tricks March 2016

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolBy Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle Schoo

The Challenges and Adventure of Long Distance Travel

Imagine what it would have been like to go cross-country one hundred years ago. Think of the difficulties you would have encountered then! There was no system of paved roads and interstates like we have today. No GPS to map your route or show you where you are and where to go. No cellphone to call for help if you have a breakdown and few places to get fuel, supplies or parts! Despite those challenges, and more, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren (20 and 24-years-old) decided they needed to make a cross-country trip on their motorcycles to show that women were able and willing to ride long distances.

On the morning of July 4th, 1916, they left Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, for the Pacific Coast on two Indian PowerPlus motorcycles. The bikes were state-of-the-art for the time, featuring 1,000cc V-twin flatheads with side-valves, Firestone “non-skid” tires, gas headlamps and a top speed of almost 60 mph (considered VERY fast for that time). They wore men’s leather jackets, pants and helmets similar to what pilots of that era wore. The brakes were minimal and the ride must have been hard since there was little suspension and the front forks were rigid.

When the Van Buren sisters made their journey, women did not yet have the right to vote and Victorian society placed extreme limitations on them. Today, women are the largest growing segment of new motorcycle riders. We have satellite trackers to help us find our way and motorcycles with a myriad of conveniences and safety features like ABS. But in many respects the preparations they made for their trip are not much different than what you would do today, except that now it’s much easier.

Riding cross-country on a motorcycle isn’t something to be undertaken lightly. Here are some basic questions that you would want to address before leaving :
• How to prepare your bike for the trip
• What spare parts and tools to take with you and knowing how to use them
• Where to plan overnight stops along the way
• How many miles to ride daily and fuel estimations
• Which roads you’re going to travel on (main roads or look for interesting side roads and twisties)

These are only some of the questions one would want to address well before leaving. Two months after they started, the Van Buren sisters made it to California. They achieved their goal of being able to ride long distance on a motorcycle. They endured many hardships just because they were women, including being arrested multiple times for wearing men’s clothing! Thankfully today no such limitations exist and women look forward to the challenges and adventures of long distance travel.