I wanna be just like Dot!..part 1

Being a woman..loving getting my hands dirty..not afraid to give the “unthinkable” a try..and succeeding at it; that brings me to my most recent person of interest.

Dot Robinson  Dot Robinson, born Dorothy Goulding, is ONE of my favorite motorcycle pioneers. Reading and re-reading the stories about this woman, I realize that she not only paved the road for me but, did it the way she wanted to. She wasnt dictated to by any stigma, encouraged by the masses or held to a certain standard.  She managed to exceed anything that was presented at the time and did it with style!  That may very well be my favorite part.  She happened to be considered quite “the lady” while she was making the term “women riders” known. Not that being an expert at the writings of Emily Post is the most important thing but that she did it because that was the way she wanted to do it…and that is the point!  She allowed me to be a rider…the way I want to be one.  For that, I am forever grateful…

Dot was born on April 22, 1912, in Australia. Her father was a motorcycle sidecar designer and an amateur racer. There is a story about Dots dad loading her pregnant mother, in full labor, into the sidecar on his motorcycle and rushing her to the hospital. It seems that she was destined to ride from the very beginning. Her family moved to the United States in 1918 in hopes of expanding the sidecar business and eventually settled in Saginaw, Michigan, to run a motorcycle dealership. Another story tells about Dots future husband, Earl, coming into the dealership to buy parts everyday after school. Dorothy recalled , “By the time we were married, Earl probably had enough parts to start his own store.” The couple was married in 1931, bought the dealership from her father and moved it to Detroit, Michigan.

The couple participated in endurance runs and races and…another story…told by “Hap”, the Honda dealer in Sarasota, FL…”I chased that woman for two days, through mud and trees and never caught her. At the end of the race, all the guys tramped into the local bar, but not Dot. She went to her room and got cleaned up first. I’ll never forget the picture; Dot walking into the bar in a black sheath dress and a pill-box hat.”  There were attempts made to keep her from participating in the sport she loved but, she persevered and was allowed to compete.  The five foot two-inch tall powerhouse spent the 30’s competing in endurance runs and even came in 2nd place in the brutal two-day “Jack Pine” enduro in 1937. It is noted that less than half the participants even finished the contest!   In 1940 she returned to win the contest! She was the first woman to win an AMA national competition. ,

In the 1950’s, Dot began wearing pink riding outfits which later became one of her trademarks. She decided that being linked to the black leather wearing outlaws that the movies portrayed didnt suit her.  This is just another example of the womans desire to do things her own way. And for that, I salute her.

The Robinson’s sold their Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership in 1971 and the couple traveled many miles together, including a 6ooo mile trip through Dot’s birth country, Australia. It was said to be her favorite trip. Earl died in 1996 but Dot kept on riding until a knee  replacement surgery made it too difficult. By the time she gave up the motorcycle travel, she figured she had totaled one and a half million miles in her years of riding. She was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1998 and her accomplishments earned her the nickname “The First Lady of Motorcycling.”

Dorothy Robinson passed away on October 8, 1999 at the age of 87. Her legacy will live on in every woman that straddles a motorcycle. She will live on as a pioneer that brought women riders into the public eye and as one of the founders of the  Motor Maids, which still exists today but, that story will have to wait for “part 2”. 
Dot Robinson  The Editor

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5 Comments

  1. Judy, what a great and inspiring story! I had heard of Dot but did not know her story. I have passed this on to a young woman who has just started riding, and may be channeling the spirit of Dot, because she wants to only have pink gear. She wants the world to know that she is a girl rider!

    Cheers, and thanks!

    • If you ever want to write for a website, give me an email shout out. Your blog is great! My email addy is judy@motorcycletravelamerica.com And, while your at it, would love to have you pass along my website to your friend with the new touring company. We might be able to help him out.
      Thanx for the kudos. Dot was quite a woman! Doing an homage to her on my new electric bike, Enertia, and it will say “What would Dot think?”. As you might expect, it will be pink. Give my well wishes to your newbie rider friend and tell her to keep the wheels down! Makes my heart happy to hear about her! Judy

      • Judy, thank you so much for the compliment about my blog. I feel pretty humbled that it is so well received. I will email you directly, and I’ll also pass along your website info to Greg Ziemer.

        I can’t wait to see Enertia! I am sure she will be a sight to behold!
        ~Liz

  2. Wow Judy, that was so beautifully written and what an inspiring woman Dot was and still is, as her legacy still very much lives on with all women riders!
    Your writings remind me of a blog I wrote back in June of ’09 being “Pretty in Pink” which I use Dot as an example of how you can be a tough and serious woman rider, but still keep your feminine side in tact! Thank you for sharing this epic story and if you are interested, here was my little contribution to Dot. http://stylesavergirl.blogspot.com/2009/06/pretty-in-pink.html ~ Cindi

    • Cindi, When you first mentioned that particulat blog subject of yours, I didnt recall. Now that I have re-read and re-aquainted myself…I remember reading it! As always, you are an inspiration, my dear.


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