So another International women’s day has arrived and this year I am finally writing my bit about the ladies around the world that help shape not only motorcycling but world history.
My first Hero is Bessie Stringfield. Bessie is a lady that I wish I could have known, and ridden with and then gone down the pub with her for a pint. She lived the kind of life that a girl like me can only ever dream of. Bessie (or BB as she was known) was born in Jamaica in 1911 and moved to the USA at the age of 5. She rode her first motorcycle at the age of 16 having never ridden a bike before, taking tips from her neighbour on what do with the controls. She quickly became a natural rider. Between the 1930’s & 1940’s she worked in a carnival performing motorcycles stunts to fund her long distance cross-country adventures. During the second world war Bessie worked as a civilian dispatch rider riding her Harley Davison between army bases to deliver messages. During all this excitement BB married and divorced 6 times, moved to Miami, became a nurse and founded the Iron horse motorcycle club. By the 1950’s BB had completed more than seven long distance riding trips to Brasil, all over the USA, and Europe. Bessie continue to ride right up to her death at the age of 82.
Bessie Springfield is a true hero, she was a fiercely independent woman during a time of horrific racial and sexual inequality yet she still lived the life she wanted to live. If only all of us had the courage to live the was BB did, to follow our dreams and passions. Thank you Bessie.
My next hero is a lady called Jenny Tinmouth. Jenny is a best known in the UK as the first semi professional Bristish Superbike racer along with being the current Isle of Man TT female lap record holder. Jenny, like myself is also a motorcycle mechanic and runs a workshop in the North of England with her partner Steve.
Jenny is a real star. She has achieved so many firsts in her career there are simply too many to list.This lady is what I call hardcore, she has broken more bones than you can imagine in races yet still gets back up and twists the throttle as hard as she can. She has humbly and quietly smashed through her section of the glass ceiling and continues to do so. Jenny Tinmouth is a legend in her own life time and deserves to be acknowledged for what she has achieved.
Next on the list are Avis and Effie Hotchkiss. Effie was working as a bank clerk in the USA during 1915, when she decided she wanted to see America and experience the adventure of travelling by motorcycle. She used her savings to buy a Harley Davidson and planned to ride from New York to San Francisco alone, until her mum Avis put her foot down and insisted that Effie wouldn’t do the journey alone, so instead of stopping her daughter she said she would ride along. The ladies had a side car fitted to the Harley for mum and set off on their adventure. Roads were bad if they existed at all, the west was still pretty wild and yet the two ladies still made the journey. They became the first women to make a cross-country trip on a motorcycle and the women to make a return cross country trip because after all, they still had to ride home !
There are so many women that deserve to be here alongside these ladies, out of them all I felt they are the lesser known of them and in my opinion the pathfinders for the rest of us that came after. I wish I could ride with them all share our stories, sit and talk about bikes and life all night long.