Cris Sommers Simmons. Ready To Race Coast To Coast On Her 1915 Harley-Davidson.

On September 10, 2010 about 70 colorful bikers from around the world will be gathered in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with their pre-1916 motorcycles.

They will participate in the Cannonball Endurance Run, a 3325 miles grueling coast to coast vintage motorcycle race ending 17 days later in Santa Monica, California. And the first and only American woman who will take this challenge of physical and performance endurance on her 1915 Harley-davidson is no other than Cris Sommers Simmons.

Cris has been involved with motorcycles since she was 9-years-old when she began riding with her stepfather.  At 14, she was riding on her own and at 19 she the owner of her first Harley Davidson.  She is the co-founder of the magazine Harley Woman, the world’s first motorcycle magazine just for women. She has been a freelance writer contributing to many publications here in the US and abroad. She wrote a children’s book that has sold over 12,000 copies titled “Patrick Wants to Ride” and she also released “The American Motorcycle Girls 1900-1950” which is currently the number one selling motorcycle book on Amazon. She is also an inductee in the National Motorcycle Hall Of Fame, in the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation and in the Sturgis Hall Of fame.
I asked Cris to give me an update on her preparation for what she considers the thrill of her lifetime. Working on her 1915 Harley with husband Pat Simmons she was able to get the bike up and running. She already practiced riding it and got familiar with its hand shift/foot clutch, an experience she describes as a little bit scary at first. The machine is right now in California, getting some extra needed motor work done, adding safety lights, maybe a rear brake and whatever she can – and is authorized by strict regulations- to make the 95 year-old motorcycle as road worthy as she can. Cris will not bring any extra motors, just a few extra parts and tires that she may need.

Her bike featured here is called “Effie”,  named after Effie Hotchkiss,  the first woman to ride across the US in 1915 (with her Mom Avis in the sidecar) and because interestinglyenough, her “Effie” is the same exact model and year Harley-Davidson she is going to ride. Except that she will not have a sidecar and her Mom is not going! Wanted to know more about the technical aspect of the race, Cris explained: “My bike is in Class 3, for Twin Multi Speed machines and should cruise at around 50 mph. I am told that some of the smaller, single cylinder machines will only be able to do 25 or 30 mph.   May be tough for them the first few days, as we will ride in the hills of North Carolina.  It is going to be a tough ride for all of us, but I am up for the challenge and adventure. To me “winning” means finishing. I’ll be thrilled if I can do that”. She also mentioned the importance of a good physical preparation for such a long (17 days) endurance vintage race, and is working out three days a week with a personal trainer .

No doubt that all along this phenomenal vintage race, Cris Sommers Simmons will think of her pioneering sisters of the 1910’s,  Augusta and Adeline Van Buren, Effie Hotchkiss and all the other women who completed the transcontinental journey after surviving crashes, breakdowns, mud holes, exhaustion, dehydration, etc. And once again she is going to prove to all of you that women are far more capable than society still gives them credit for.

Cris is looking for sponsors and my personal opinion is that all major players from our industry, in one way or the other, should support her efforts. I hope that I will have to forward your offers to her. Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run. (picture Cris by Pat Simmons Jr)

28 Responses to “Cris Sommers Simmons. Ready To Race Coast To Coast On Her 1915 Harley-Davidson.”

  1. 1 Kirk Perry Apr 18th, 2010 at 8:34 am


    Find an rpm that allows the valves to “float” for a quieter smoother ride on a long distance stretch.

    Have fun and wear a kidney belt.

  2. 2 Jeremy Apr 18th, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Go, Cris. Go!

  3. 3 gabehcuoD Apr 18th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! go get’em !!!!

  4. 4 Ralph Apr 18th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Wonderful to see these Ladies keeping up this tradition. Best wishes to all!

  5. 5 burnout Apr 18th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Very cool! peace

  6. 6 Jeny Apr 18th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Was wondering. what kind of assistance is provided or authorized?.

  7. 7 Rogue Apr 19th, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Chris good to see you sitting on the motorcycle you will be riding. I was trying to picture it in my head when you told me about this event.
    I know you will do well, you always have.
    Go Getum Girl!

  8. 8 Curt! Apr 19th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Chris; Best of luck to you and all your comrades on what seems more like a journey than a race. Hopefully we’ll see lots of coverage of this event in the press.

  9. 9 gina woods Apr 19th, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Woo Hoo right on Cris…..A journey indeed..get lots of good footage!
    Not a better person out there to represent woman pioneers of yesterday and today!
    Let’s do an interview very soon!

  10. 10 ROCKSTAR Apr 19th, 2010 at 9:03 am

    enjoy the road.

  11. 11 Kenny Price Apr 19th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Go Cris!!!

  12. 12 LeftTenant Apr 19th, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Best of luck and Bon Voyage, Cris! Looking forward to vicariously traveling with this select Clan Intrepid.

  13. 13 Harley guy Apr 19th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Wow! Talk about a brave person! There couldn’t be a more capable woman to represent the feminine side of motorcycling. I think more eyes will be on you, than any of the guys out there. Someone should capture this ride on film. I hope there’s a Discovery, or History Channel, paying attention to this. Good luck Cris!

  14. 14 Chickie Apr 19th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Thats my compadre- She is an inspiration to us all and as A Motor Maid she is continuing on with the legacy of our strong sisterhood. I can honestly say that of all the chicks I know and love- this one is super special- she has heart determination and a true love for motorcycles and the history- I would ride to the end of the earth and back with you and you make us all proud- Any sponsor who is involved will see 500% return on their investment and then some- The expenses and time do add up. So lets all ban together and make this happen.

  15. 15 Harley Lady Apr 19th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Cris, I am so excited for you to be able to do this. You are a great role model for women riders everywhere.We are well represented by you. I am honored to call you my friend. And, the fact that you unexpectedly put me on the cover of one of your Harley Women magazines makes it even better! I hope to see you next month in Milwaukee.Ride safe!

  16. 16 cwglide Apr 19th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    WOW, that is a very ambicous task to travel cross country on a vintage pre 1916 era motorcycle. Hell its an adventure just riding to Sturgis on a modern one, for me anyways. Much respect for anyone go across country on a vintage motorcycle. Wish you luck Chris!!!!

  17. 17 madpuppy Apr 19th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Good luck Chris ! Be safe and have fun !

  18. 18 maroco Apr 20th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    lots of courage, good luck!

  19. 19 nicker Apr 20th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Degree of difficulty: 10 points
    Style : 10 points

    When the riding starts the BS stops.

    Go for it girl….. !!!


  20. 20 Apr 20th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    have one of the best times of your life.

    trave far and safe,

    raycwheeler usa

  21. 21 Busfreak Apr 21st, 2010 at 6:12 am

    I don’t see how the trip is possible. I mean no GPS, no chrome, no radio and no detachable windshield man it’s going to be a tough ride but good luck.

  22. 22 Pipes Apr 21st, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Chris, somewhere Sammy Morgan is looking down on you with a BIG smile. Thanks for making me think of her, and break a chain.

  23. 23 Cris Sommer Simmons Apr 21st, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Thank to everyone for all the nice comments and to Cyril for helping me wake up with my motorcycle news every morning.
    Yes, it will be the ride of my life. I think I can… I think I can…

  24. 24 Paul Apr 24th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Chris; Best of luck to you and all your comrades on what seems more like a journey than a race. Hopefully we’ll see lots of coverage of this event in the press.

  25. 25 Robin Apr 24th, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! go get’em !!!!

  26. 26 Steve Apr 25th, 2010 at 5:24 am


    Find an rpm that allows the valves to “float” for a quieter smoother ride on a long distance stretch.

    Have fun and wear a kidney belt.

  27. 27 Kat Apr 26th, 2010 at 11:41 am


    We’ve been following your progress on Facebook and the other places you pop up on our radar. It sounds
    like everything is coming together, so exciting! Best of luck and prayers for traveling mercies. Home for us is near Santa Monica so we will keep up with the progress of the race and see about coming out to the finish.

  1. 1 Rebuilding A 1914 Harley-Davidson 10-B For The Cannonball Run at Cyril Huze Blog – Custom Motorcycle News Pingback on Apr 24th, 2010 at 6:44 am
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