Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Vivian Bales was the first motorcycle cover girl and was known for several long distance motorcycle rides around the US, (before most of the roads were paved) in the 1920s and 1930s.

After graduating high school, she worked as a dance instructor, and in 1926 bought her first motorcycle, a new Harley-Davidson Model B, regardless of only being 5' 2 " and 95 pounds and unable to kickstart the bike on her own

 She taught herself to ride on this motorcycle, and took off for a 300 mile road trip with a female friend to St. Petersburg, Florida, she quickly was receiving local newspaper coverage, and that led to her realizing the benefit of free publicity.

 Bales, planning longer journeys, traded in her '26 for a 1929 D-series, and wrote to Hap Jameson, then editor of The Harley-Davidson Enthusiast magazine, telling him about her plans to make a longer solo trip.

Jameson appointed Bales as the official goodwill "Enthusiast Girl" and while Harley-Davidson did not finance her journey, arrangements were made for Harley-Davidson dealers, Rotary Clubs and others on the route to provide accommodation, fuel, and maintenance.

Having only been riding for 3 years and aged 20 years old, Bales started on 1 June 1929, taking 78 days to cover about 5,000 miles alone from Albany, Georgia to the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee. On the way back, she traveled through Canada, Manhattan, the Carolinas and Washington, D.C. In Washington, Senator William J. Harris arranged for her to meet President Herbert Hoover wearing her trademark all white riding breeches, shirt, helmet, socks and sweater with "The Enthusiast Girl" across its chest.

To Arthur Davidson she was "The Georgia Peach". For Bales, the motorcycle was a "key to the whole United States".

The Harley-Davidson Story: Tales from the Archives By Aaron Frank

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