I could only do the first week of this amazing ride so I brought the man with me to the kickoff point, Brooklyn on Sunday, July 3rd. That night was a small, intimate event with members of the Van Buren Family that were joining the entire cross country journey. That night I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Van Buren, Great Grand Niece of the Van Buren Sisters, as well as her father, Robert Van Buren (Great Nephew of the Van Buren Sisters). Sarah was so inspired by what her ancestors accomplished and the momentous event of this ride that she herself obtained her motorcycle license just 9 months before the beginning of the ride! What an accomplishment, to ride across the country before you've even racked up a few thousand miles of riding experience under your belt. Sarah, you should be incredibly proud of what you've accomplished, as your Aunts would have been so proud of you as well.
The evening was marked by a very cool proclamation from the Borough of Brooklyn, New York declaring July 3rd 2016 "Sisters' Centennial Motorcycle Ride Day in the Borough of Brooklyn".
Since we were leaving super early the next morning for Springfield, it was a light evening for both of us.
Day 2: Brooklyn, New York to Springfield, Pennsylvania
Our route as we left Brooklyn took us North, up the Taconic State Parkway. It's a very scenic route (nothing twisty really) into Massachusetts. After awhile, Evan and I split off and decided to ride a backroads route into Springfield instead of with the larger group we were with. (There were 3 distinct groups based on riding experience and overall comfort. So no, it wasn't 100 people all riding together all the time <which freaks me out a bit>). We had a blast riding for a bit with Robert Pandya (External Relations Manager - Indian Motorcycles) and Robert Van Buren!
That night we rolled into Springfield without much fanfare. We did however, hit a huge milestone and rode through Connecticut! Another state knocked off my list. It was HOT too. Did I forgot to mention how HOT it was?
DAY 3: SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
First day in Springfield, the morning kicked off with a great tour of the Springfield Museums and another proclamation. This time from the Mayor of Springfield.
The coolest part for me was seeing the Van Buren Sisters portion of the museum. If you haven't visited the Springfield Museums, they have a varied collection of exhibits including the history of Indian Motorcycles.
Something that truly struck me was how much these two take after their famous female ancestors. Their resemblance is striking, isn't it? Right next to this wall was a display case of the very headwear that Augusta Van Buren wore back then during their trip. I guess you could call this her "helmet".
Maybe it's because I've been working in this industry for awhile now, or maybe not. But it truly made me realize how lucky we are to have technology in the 21st century to allow us to be safer. We have so many options available to us now that weren't just ~20 years ago! Ask any woman rider you know that has been riding for at least that long, and she'll tell you that options were pitiful back then. I know it seems like we don't have much today, but WE DO.
After the museums it was time to head over to Westover Airforce Base to take a quick tour of a C-5 Cargo Plane. One of the best things about participating in the Sisters' Ride was seeing my West Coast Friends! And the cargo plane was pretty cool too. It was like a sauna inside though, I don't know how any of these brave men and women do it.
Day 4: Springfield to Sayre
Our last day with the Ride was to Sayre, Pennsylvania. We even got a police escort all the way out of town! Thank you Springfield Township Police Department for your service.
After leaving Springfield Township's city limits safely, our first stop was going to be along Jacob's Ladder Highway along Route 20. It was a place that the Sisters' stopped at 100 years ago. So we paid homage to them and snapped a photo right where they stood. Ok maybe I'm just being silly, but I really felt that awesome light were the Sisters saying hello :)
Sarah places another rock to add to the pile and add the Sisters' Ride to a place in history.
And a lovely shot of the entire rock cairn with everyone:
After that, it was an easy ride towards Sayre for the night.
Unfortunately the next morning (Thursday) meant going back to Philly, so I could take the time off I needed to meet everyone back in Carson City 2 weeks later!
Friday, July 22nd in Carson City
This was yet another opportunity to see my West Coast friends! I flew out the night before into San Francisco and the next morning, I borrowed this stunning, speedy BMW R1200R. It's practically brand new, and someone I hardly knew extended her kindness to let me borrow her for a couple days so I could ride with my fellow Sisters. THANK YOU AGNES!
I still need to write a review of this wonderful ride, so stay tuned to my social feeds and newsletter to find out when it's published. Needless to say, I had a blast on it! I rode out to Carson City (all slab, 80 to 50) to meet up with the rest of the group. As soon as I get off the bike to walk into the hotel lobby, who do I run into except racing legend Mary McGee! It was such a great moment, because that's where I saw Mary for the first time 4 years ago at the last AMA Women & Motorcycling Conference at the very same hotel.
That night, we had a nice dinner with everyone who was going to be riding with us to San Francisco the next day. Alisa presented the staff and cross country riders, special medals that showed how they participated in this historic motorcycle ride.
Saturday, July 23rd to San Francisco
Saturday was a quick, all slab route to San Francisco. We had a fairly quick lunch stop at A&S Cycles in Roseville, CA with a bunch of other riders who came to join the fun. Not everyone was coming with us to San Francisco but many of them stayed to say hello and grab a free burger courtesy of A&S.
After lunch, it was off to the staging point just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It felt SO good to be riding towards that bridge again. I was so tempted to turn off on the Lucas Valley exit and take the R1200R for a really good ride through Petaluma. *sigh*
I don't have the exact numbers so I'll keep using this number: 150-200 riders showed up just north of the bridge at Fort Baker. We had men and women on everything from classic Indians to Ducatis to Harleys to BMW's. It was one of the most thrilling motorcycle experiences of my riding life. I also got to see more old friends!
Oops, must post another photo of the bike!
We had the honor of having San Francisco Motorcycle Club escort us across the bridge into San Francisco down to their historic clubhouse. It was pretty crazy.
I'm lucky that I lived in the city long enough to have participated in several group rides with various friends/ clubs. Shutting down an intersection to let 20-30 bikes through is not big deal. But 150+??
After riding through the mad streets of San Francisco passing angry tourists and residents who were left to wait in their cars while all these damn motorcycles ride by.... we made it to SFMC's Headquarters. Did you know that their club is over a 100 years old, established in 1904? They were allowing women full voting rights within the club before our government decided we were equal.
If you've never had the privilege of entering SFMC's clubhouse, it's a very unique place. So much motorcycle history is here, all over the walls. (Photos: Christina Shook)
I also got a few photos with some long lost friends and family :)
I had an incredible time, even though I only made it for 1/3 of the ride. I felt like I had been there with everyone all the way from Day 1 to 20.
Now I have the cross country bug. I'm dying to do this trip next year somehow but I'll certainly have a different route. Not sure if I'll have enough time to go all the way across and back with my vacation time, but we'll see ;-)