When 26-year-old Effie Hotchkiss set off from her home in Brooklyn, New York, in May 1915 for the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, on her 3-speed Harley-Davidson, she was bound to raise a few eyebrows—even if she hadn’t stuffed her 52-year-old mother Avis in a sidecar.
Effie was first and foremost a motorcycle fanatic tired of her banking clerical job on Wall Street and eager to see the world, she would recount in an unpublished memoir written some 25 years later.
In the summer of 1914 Effie and her siblings acquired equal shares of their father’s estate, she knew exactly what to do with hers: buy a new Harley-Davidson and head for California. She had a sidecar attached to her motocycle, loaded it with her mom, and supplies, and headed for California
They headed up the Hudson valley to Albany, turning west toward Buffalo, then on to Chicago, averaging 150 miles a day. They drew large crowds of curious onlookers wherever they stopped. They would typically rent rooms from the managers of the garages where they bought gas or sought mechanical assistance.
They spent the next two months traveling 5,000 miles through every type of terrain and weather imaginable. At one time, the temperature ranged from freezing to over 120° in a matter of days
From Chicago they headed down to St. Louis, then across Missouri and Kansas into Colorado. Then they rode southwest to New Mexico. Suffering a flat, Effie created a makeshift inner tube by twisting their blankets together. At one point she had to leave her mother alone overnight at a campsite while she caught a train to Santa Fe to pick up a shipment of inner tubes.
Heading home in late August along the newly christened Lincoln Highway, the pair paused for a few days in Reno, where Effie showed off her newfound hunting skills. But by far the highlight of their return trip was the stop in Milwaukee, (the map maker forgot this important detail) where mother and daughter received a royal welcome and a private tour of the Harley-Davidson plant.
In all, they did 9000 miles on the road, over 5 months, and arrived back in Brooklyn in Oct 1915
They were the first women to make a cross-country trip on a motorcycle, and the first to make it round trip. Effie remarked, “I just wanted to see America and considered that the three-speed Harley-Davidson for myself and sidecar for mother and luggage was the best suited for the job.”
Effie received a letter from a guy she'd run into near the Golden Gate bridge, he'd run out in front of her Harley, asking her to marry him and move to Oregon, and she lived the rest of her life teaching school, minding their general store, his 3 kids, their one daughter, and a farm.
She wrote her memoir, which was passed down through her daughters, and her grand daughter Barbara, who was born in time to know both Effie and her mother Avis (both passed away in the 50s and 60s) and the memoir was shared with http://ridermagazine.com/2015/08/04/effies-great-adventure-first-women-to-ride-cross-country/