In 1934, two incredible women, Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron, set out on a 600cc single-cylinder Panther equipped with sidecar and trailer and rode from London to Cape Town, South Africa. No modern roads, no back up plan, just a giant set of balls that any man would envy. Both women were already accomplished competitive racers, who were savvy enough to raise corporate sponsorship– which just goes to show how seriously they were taken as motorcyclists. The pair shot straight across the Sahara through equatorial Africa, and South to the Cape, on the long and brutal trek without so much as a compass. A feat that no man had dared to even attempt.
Here’s the AMA’s account of their story, and the incredible account of Theresa Wallach’s lifetime on two wheels. No wonder she was inducted into their Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Warning: If you’re anything like me, reading this may make you feel like an epic under-achiever.
Motorcycling pioneer ~ Theresa Wallach
Theresa Wallach was a pioneering motorcyclist whose lifelong involvement in the sport included being a racer, motorcycle adventurer, military dispatch rider, engineer, author, motorcycle dealer, mechanic and riding school instructor. Wallach overcame numerous obstacles that confronted women motorcyclists of her era to become an enduring advocate of the sport. Wallach’s willingness to turn from traditional roles led to a lifestyle full of exploration, adventure and a never-ending dedication to motorcycling. Wallach was in the vanguard of redefining the role of women in motorcycling.
The Panther Redwing Model 100 motorcyle that Wallach & Blenkiron used was fitted with extra heavy-duty Webb forks, heavier gauge wheel spokes, wider mudguards to accommodate Fort Dunlop 3.5 inch car tires, and a Moseley block pillion saddle. The sidecar was a standard Watsonian touring model with long, heavy-duty flat leaf springs at the rear and coil springs at the front. Go read “The Rugged Road”, by Theresa Wallach.