In the June issue of “Motorcycle Illustrated” there appeared a short item in reference to Mrs. H. G. Smith, wife of the president of the Detroit Motorcycle Club, with the statement that she was probably the only woman motorcyclist between New York and San Francisco.  But there are several others.  Mrs. F. H. Williams of Minneapolis has ridden a Wagner for over a year now, and has become expert in its management.  Then from Buffalo, N. Y., word has been received of two nurses—Misses Wardwell and Wenborne—from a Schenectady hospital who passed through that city recently on a trip from their home town en route to Kansas City.  They were muddy and somewhat worn, but had made the run from Lyons to Buffalo, 113 miles in one day.

Mrs. Smith the Detroit rider, has accompanied the Detroit Motorcycle Club on several runs this spring.  She also covered the seventy-nine miles from Detroit to Flint, Mich., in one day.  Forty miles of this route is said to be over the worst roads in the state of Michigan.  Mrs. Smith went through without a mishap, stayed with friends at Flint, and returned two days later over a different route.  She rides an M. M., and as she weighs only 130 pounds herself, she can travel just about as fast as any member of the club.  From other parts of the country, we have had information of the constant use of motorcycles by lady riders, and it is pleasing to know that the softer sex are taking up this sport.  They are sure to give it an impetus that would otherwise be lacking. – “Motorcycle Illustrated”.  Aug. 1, 1908.

Preppers Discover Motorcycles

The following article came from the American Preppers Network and while those of us who ride won’t find anything new in it, I thought readers might find it interesting that this group has discovered the benefits of riding. The next time you see an ad for an armored bug-out vehicle while channel surfing, you’ll smile knowing you already have the ultimate get-away vehicle. LOL.

When the worst happens and you’ve got to bug out, you want to be a cheetah, not an elephant. Your motorcycle plan should be to get to safety as fast as possible to set things up for slower members of your party that come later. Savvy preppers plan years in advance and don’t have to carry much with them when they travel to their shelter area, so a bike works perfectly. Riding a motorcycle isn’t like riding a bicycle; you’ll need to take professional lessons and practice a lot before you’re really good on your bike. Once you feel comfortable on the road, though, a motorcycle can be your first and most important vehicle for getting yourself to safety.
Speed and Agility
If things get bad, there will be massive traffic jams on major freeways and surface streets. Look at the history of any major disaster and you’ll find this happening. If you’ve got a motorcycle, you can ride around stalled cars and pileups, and even walk the bike through the absolute toughest of all traffic tie-ups. In most traffic situations, a motorcycle will get you to your destination quicker than a car or truck.
Most motorcycles are less expensive to buy and own than most cars. You can purchase a solid used bike for a few thousand dollars. It may not be the fanciest Harley on the block, but it will get you to your destination. When it comes to running your vehicle, motorcycles get about twice the gas mileage that most cars do. The average motorcycle gets 35-40 MPG, while the usual car averages just over 20.
Today’s auto repairs are complicated, with many of them relying on computers and specialized tools to do the simplest fixes. Motorcycles, on the other hand, are much easier to repair when they break down. When it comes to stocking up on motorcycle parts, they’re easy to find online and generally cost much less than comparative auto parts. Anyone with a basic knowledge of engines can effectively repair most problems, and for much less money.
Psychological Factors
Prepping for the future is a form of minimalism, and getting a motorcycle ready for bugging out is great practice for this. Living in your shelter will be a much simpler existence. Instead of a multiple-roomed home, you may have one or two rooms for your family at first. You’ll have to make do with fewer possessions and have to create your own entertainment. When you’re planning to use a motorcycle as a bug out vehicle, you have to reduce the supplies you’ll carry to the bare minimum. You’ll have to consider each item and decide whether it’s worth the weight and space it takes up in your saddlebag. Setting up your motorcycle ahead of time like this gives you a tranquil peace of mind, because you’ll know you can react with a minimum of preparation without any worries.

Early Motor Maid History

The MM’s VP, Pat Boatright, rode with her brother and liked it so she asked him to teach her to ride. “She did fine, except for one thing…just couldn’t stop the machine and keep the engine running. She couldn’t, until—one day she was tearing down the road and looked up to see a train across the road… was real surprised, seconds later, to find herself sitting there at the edge of the crossing, quite up-right and the motor just purring away. That was the end of that trouble.

Pat has taken many trips…She is particularly fond of races and Enduros. Daughter, Patsy, has been a constant companion on trips since babyhood. Pat enjoys the Convention trips and has missed very few since joining the Maids eleven years ago [1944]…

The most popular Girl Rider in America in 1949…first year of this National Contest, was Pat Boatright… She won several [trophies]… at field events, in which she excels, but is best in the Slow Race. The rest of the trophies she has won in Enduros and Club Events.

The Boatrights are a motorcycle family. Both Pat and her husband, Fred, are connected with the Harley-Davidson shop in Shreveport and their thirteen year old daughter has her own motorcycle and is a member of the Motor Maids of America. The convention in 1955 will see Pat and daughter, Patsy, on two machines for the first time. Husband, Fred, is an Auxiliary member of the Motor Maids…

Pat was State Director of Texas and Louisiana for many years before she was appointed by the President, Dot Robinson, to fulfill the office of Vice-President in 1951…Pat was elected to the post in 1954 to hold office for three years.”

In 1955, Patsy (later Patsy Boatright Nuchia) rode her bike 1,760 miles to convention in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, at age 14. Her photo and a notice appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on July 16, 1955.

October 1955, Patsy and Pat were joint winners of the long distance trophy presented in Springfield, IL where 40 MM’s, “opened the track before the National with a parade to make Springfield again one of the best attended events of the year”.

In December of 1955 Patsy took second place in a run in Shreveport, planned by Harry Talmadge, husband of MM “Weezie” Talmadge. First place went to Jody Bunch of New Orleans, and third to Nickie Hero of Pensacola.

Young Patsy took awards at non-MM events as well, winning the trophy for the girl rider who rode her machine the longest distance to attend the Gypsy Tour in Houston, TX at 14.

Patsy won the annual 50 mile Dot Robinson Run on July 8, 1956, and received the trophy from Dot Robinson herself who attended with her mother, Mrs. Goulding, and daughter, Mrs. Betty Fouls, both of Detroit. Nickie Hero took second prize in the run and Betty Fouls came in third.

How America Toppled off its Pedestal

We all know it happens. Lawmakers discuss the need for legislation, turn it left, right, and upside down picking it apart then before it gets voted on some Good Ole Boy (or Gal) decides to tack on some issue completely unrelated to the bill being discussed/voted on.

That is exactly what happened in North Carolina. A, “two paragraph”, bill on motorcycle safety was interspliced with four pages of restrictions on abortions for the state. Look up “Motorcycle Vagina Bill” if you doubt me. If you can tell me how these two topics have anything in common you’ll be the only person who seems to be able to.

For the simple-minded, adding the abortion rider to that bill means that if a legislator chose to vote in support of motorcycle safety, he or she would also be inadvertently voting in support of restrictions on abortion.

I personally have no objections to a bill that would limit abortions to only cases in which carrying a child would significantly risk the life of the mother, but shoving those restrictions in the middle of a totally unrelated bill is not the way to accomplish that. Getting legislation passed which will increase the safety of riders is difficult enough without attaching a well-known controversial topic to the proposal. How underhanded can you get? A legislator who would vote in support of rider safety might well vote against it just to keep from voting in favor of the unrelated issue.

These sleezy tactics are not rare occurrences, in fact you can just about bet the back 40 that every bill passed in the legislature has some unrelated issue buried deep within the proposal. If they can tack on four pages to a two paragraph bill, just imagine how many totally unrelated issues are added into the so-called Affordable Care Act.

Dropouts Equal Carlessness on the Road

I would be hard-pressed to argue that Alabama’s dropout rate for high school students isn’t directly related to the deplorable driving habits of many of the state’s citizens or that the lack of education doesn’t manifest itself in a myriad of other ways – low turn-out at voting polls and inability to understand the ballot, the high number of families who live at or below the poverty level relying on Medicaid, food stamps, and handouts, etc.

As a taxpayer I resent the amount taken out of my salary to support those families who lack the self-respect to work for a living, and as a rider, I shudder at the ignorance I see on the roads on a daily basis. I’ve been hit by an SUV because the driver was distracted, ran a red light, and turned across our lane. It’s not something I care to repeat. That carelessness is due in large part to a lack of education and inability to comprehend traffic laws coupled with a lack of self-respect and concern for fellow citizens.

Alabama’s overall dropout rate is 75%, but the graduation rate for some counties is far lower: Montgomery county: 64%; Butler 66%; Bullock 70%; Lowndes 67%; Pike 67%; and Dallas 71%. There were 16 high schools in AL in which the graduation rate was below 60% for the 2011/2012 school year. There were another 49 high schools in which the graduation rate was between 60 and 70%.

Is it any wonder that Alabama ranks in the top 10 of poorest states in the Union with these percentages of students who don’t finish high school? After substitute teaching for a year I venture to say most of those dropouts are barely literate. Why make any effort to learn when being brought up in an environment in which multiple generations have lived off of government assistance? Bide your time till you’re old enough to leave school and coast through life on the coat-tails of the rapidly dwindling middle class employees for yet another generation. When those of us in that middle class fall below the poverty line ourselves trying to support you, I’m sure the 1% of wealthy Americans will support us all. Really???

Alabama comes in at #4 on the list of poorest states in the union (7.3% unemployment, 19% below the poverty line), surpassed only by Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia. Yet all the school board and legislators can do is argue over tax credits for families who want to remove their children from failing schools and enroll them in better schools.

Alabama ranks 8th in the nation for the worst drivers with 42 fatalities per million miles; 46th in ticketing; 29th for drunk driving; 41st for failure to obey traffic laws; and 7th for carelessness.

Everyday habits of making U-turns in busy traffic, trying to cross four-lanes of traffic without a traffic light in order to exit a parking lot; making a left turn from the right lane across the path of the driver in the left lane; running red lights; cutting drivers off when the road narrows from four lanes to two; speeding up so as not to let a driver change lanes; blocking traffic because you’re too stupid and self-centered to get out of the left lane and let cars pass; recklessly and repeatedly changing lanes in heavy traffic; parking illegally; etc. result in accidents, injuries, death, AND higher insurance rates. We all pay one way or another.

Use caution, try to anticipate the next move of drivers around you, wear safety gear whenever possible, and whether you have the right-of-way or not, if a driver seems oblivious to you, drop back and let them pass. Arrive safely at your destination because those who have the power to improve some of these situations are asleep at the wheel.

Motor Maid Profile: Butch Widman


Today’s Motor Maids history lesson is on Butch Widman who served as Secretary in 1955. Her boyfriend, who was later her husband, was serving during WWII and had asked her to take care of his bike while he was gone. Instead of just starting the bike twice weekly to keep it in running order, she climbed on and rode with the members of his club. She sold the bike in 1944 because there was no end to the war in sight and gas was difficult to get.

Two years later she bought her own bike and joined Motor Maids. She finished sixth in the Most Popular Girl Rider Contest in 1953 and won numerous trophies over the years at various events.

In May 1946, the couple rode to San Francisco, taking one bike but sharing the driving. She learned a lesson I’ve had to learn a few times, no matter how sunny it is, take along a jacket – or as she put it “long handles” and a jacket. Had Martin not told me to take a jacket when we rode to Redondo Beach, CA in June, I’d have joined Butch in learning it can be cold riding through the mountains no matter what time of year it is.

The couple ran a motorcycle dealership in St Louis and in their “free” time Earl, Butch, and Ronnie rode competitively. – “American Motorcycling”, April 1955.

Motor Maids & their Auxiliary©


To sum up what a Motor Maid does in one word is easy – we RIDE. Members are working professionals, retired ladies, and everything in between and no two are alike, except for their interest in riding. Our lifestyles are different, our other hobbies and interests are different, and the amount of time we can devote to Motor Maids and riding is different depending on whether we work or enjoy retirement.

Trophies and acknowledgements are awarded at the state and national level for the women who ride the most miles, tour the largest number of states each year, recruit the most members for the year, etc. Once upon a time the husbands and significant others were acknowledged at the end of the year for their encouragement and for taking on additional responsibilities at home so that their wives had enough free time to ride. Men doing housework and babysitting in the early days was about as unusual as a woman rider.

In 1958, I was an infant in diapers. My mother and aunts would no more have considering riding a motorcycle than my grandmother ever considered driving an automobile. (She died just short of age 101 and never drove a day in her life) Even my Motor Maids district only dates from Jan. 1, 2011, but in other parts of the country Motor Maids and the auxiliary members were burning up the roads in ‘58.

Dorine Hamilton, DD for Kansas was confirmed as “Queen of the Highways” that year, having ridden more miles than any of her sister Motor Maids. She started riding six years earlier. The reigning queen from the previous year was Hi Cowan LaCoy of Killeen, TX. Unfortunately, the article did not include either lady’s mileage.

The auxiliary members did not go unnoticed at the end of the year gathering.

“In keeping with the fact that Motor Maid Auxiliary members are essential and much appreciated, a “Work Trophy” was presented to Hershel Broadbent as Auxiliary member doing the most work in helping conduct Motor Maid events. A “Babysitting Trophy” was presented to Jerry McLaughlin as the member doing the most babysitting while his wife was away attending Motor Maid events. A “Traveling Trophy” was awarded to Leroy Hamilton as the Auxiliary member traveling the most miles with his wife attending Motor Maid events. All of these trophies were appropriately engraved.”

I’m thankful I don’t need a babysitter, and that Martin (my auxiliary member), joins me wherever my ramblings take us. He’s always ready for an adventure and together we have fun no matter how outrageous or mundane the ride. I’m also thankful that the Motor Maids still appreciate these gentlemen and welcome their participation in group rides.
Source: “American Motorcycling”, Feb. 1959

Riding of Another Type


For those (like me) who have a long history of riding ATV’s, there is an awesome trail system in West Virginia that just may strike your fancy. There are cabins and ATV rentals, restaurants that cater to the participants, and it looks like businesses offer pretty much anything one would need for a weekend riding the trails.

Believe it or not, there is no charge for riding unless your stay involves renting the ATV. Riders may bring their own, or reserve one for rental. We saw a television program over the Labor Day weekend about the trail system and I looked it up to get more information. The information below is taken from their website.

It took some individuals with ambition, intelligence, and a willingness to put their skills to work in order to boost the local economy to put this package together. As more and more businesses close, factories lock up and send work overseas, and those looking for decent paying jobs in exchange for a fair day’s work become harder and harder to find, I’d like to challenge all Southern states to follow their example.

“The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is a statutory corporation created by the West Virginia Legislature to generate economic development through tourism in nine southern West Virginia counties. As of 2013, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System covers more than 600 miles of off-road trails in seven of its nine project counties. All of the trail systems are open 365 days a year to ATVs, dirt bikes, and utility vehicles (UTVs). Hatfield-McCoy Trails is also open to 4×4 ORV’s at the newest, Ivy Branch Trail location. Many of the trail systems also offer community connecting trails that allow visitors to access “ATV-friendly towns” to experience the charm of southern West Virginia.

The eight Hatfield-McCoy trail systems are Rockhouse, Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Indian Ridge, Little Coal, Pocahontas, Pinnacle Creek, and Ivy Branch. No matter which trail system you choose, Hatfield-McCoy Trail visitors can expect to find a variety of trails ranging from easiest to most difficult. These are not your typical “flatlander” trails, however, and can be a challenge for a first-time rider. For this reason, visitors may choose from a list of ATV guided tour and rental providers. You can also find a listing of lodging facilities by visiting our lodging page.

The overall goal of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails project is to develop a world-class trail system with an emphasis on safety in each of its nine project counties throughout southern West Virginia. Project estimates have concluded that once the trails are developed and linked, there may be as much as 2,000 total miles of trails.”