Augusta “Gussie” and Adeline “Addie” Van Buren. Two sisters who opened the door for every woman to ride a motorcycle. You may have heard them called “the Van Buren sisters. They are the impetus behind the annual week in Sturgis.
The television show The Mysteries of Sturgis is now playing on the Travel Channel or can be viewed online—Google it. The filming of our beloved, sleepy little town that comes alive once a year gets viewers excited for Sturgis Week! It’s bursting with full throttle tales of action and adventure. The show delves into the story of two boundary-breaking sisters, Gussie and Addie, or the Van Buren sisters, two women who paved the road for woman riders everywhere. The story is remarkable.
The Sturgis Women prove women have the right to ride
It’s a history lesson about Sturgis, that beautifully articulates its origin as the largest motorcycle rally in the world and the two sisters who have become “sheroes” of American women who ride and an icon of Sturgis week. Their tenacity and will prove to the world that woman has the right to ride is unparalleled.
A snapshot of the story is that the sisters rode from New York City to San Francisco in 1916. With war looming, the sisters wanted to do their part and ride as messengers for the Army, but it was unheard of—which was the catalyst from their arduous ride. Their journey, that took two months through heavy rain, mud, rutty terrain, and spills—and arrested several times in states where it was illegal for women to wear men’s clothing—was fueled by their passionate tenacity that continues to invigorate women even today.
Sadly, Gussie and Addie never rode for the Army. But that didn’t prevent the precipice of an unfettered legacy of freedom and empowerment. Gussie became a lawyer and Addie a pilot—a lawyer who rides and pilot who flies on the ground and in the air!
A Van Buren Sisters tribute website that speaks mostly about how the Van Buren family has immortalized the sisters through an annual trek from NYC to San Francisco that follows their original path as much as possible. The family continues to celebrate Gussie and Addie’s game-changing inaugural ride on their Indian bikes and their powerful love for riding. If fact, Adeline’s great-granddaughter, Sarah Van Buren, has a powerful line in a blog post that truly captures the essence of riding: “Motorcycles are a time machine — they keep people young.” Add Gussie’s mantra, “Woman can if she will,” and you’ve summed up the takeaway from these two historic women. They even have a Van Buren Sisters store, complete with t-shirts, bike stickers, and commemorative photos.
Want to go to Sturgis this year? Women (and men, of course!) can get to Sturgis this year via an all-expense-paid $16,000 value luxury trip, sponsored by Law Tigers Motorcycle Lawyers. The prize package includes round-trip airfare—up to $1,500 value– from Law Tigers, accommodations, food, drink, VIP entertainment valued at $5,000 from Glencoe CampResort and a Harley rental from Black Hills Harley Davidson dealership, valued at $2,000. But wait. There’s more! Enjoy a $2,000 shopping spree at NightRider Jewelry store, a custom made pair of crocodile riding boots valued at $1,500 from Murga Boots, two firearms valued at $1,500 from Sturgis Guns, a new helmet, jacket and a bag of gear valued at $1,500 from Unknown Industries and all-access passes to the must-see Sturgis Museum (look for Gussie and Addie!) and Hall of Fame.