A few months ago we talked about the history of enduro racing and in our story we mentioned a female rider, one of the most famous British motorcyclists of the 1920s, Marjorie Cottle.
We found her story so fascinating that we wanted to dedicate a separate article to her. So, that’s who we want to talk to you about today.
Who was Marjorie, then?
Marjorie was born on 5th September 1900 to Emily and William Cottle in Seacombe, a suburb of Wallasay, a small harbour town separated from Liverpool by the Irish Sea. The figure who most shaped Marjorie’s destiny was her father William. William was a factory manager and also a keen motorcyclist. Marjorie, who watched her father ride his motorbike for hours throughout her childhood, tried to convince him to buy her a motorbike when she was only 14 years old. William hesitated, did buy Marjorie a motorbike, but he retrieved an old World War I Premier motorbike from a nearby junkyard and handed it to Marjorie, saying that if she could fix it, she could ride it. Only then would she show him that his passion was not a flash in the pan.
And how did it go?
Obviously, Marjorie had managed to clean up the old wreck and get it running. In this way she showed her father that she could not only ride but also take care of her motorbike. At this point William realised that Marjorie was determined and decided to buy her a Calthorpe motorbike, a bike made by the company of the same name, which manufactured motorbikes near Birmingham from 1909 to 1939.
With the purchase of the Triumph 500, Marjorie had begun to get serious. She entered the Triumph in the Liverpool MCC event, where she was not only the only female competitor, but also one of only two people out of a total of 300 participants to reach the top of the hill, the most difficult and challenging part of the competition. That would be a great achievement even in this day and age when we are used to seeing a woman competing. Let alone a hundred years ago! In fact, Marjorie had gained a lot of notoriety and attracted the attention of motorbike manufacturers who participated in various races, including international ones.
Only the Enduro races?
It wasn’t just racing that thrilled Marjorie and her adventurous spirit. In 1924, she accomplished another feat that many thought impossible. She rode a Raleigh 350cc, an English-made motorbike, nearly 3,500 miles over extremely rough roads, averaging 300 miles a day. And he did this for a full 11 days before arriving back in Liverpool, from where he had started his tour along the English coast. Two years later, Marjorie completed a 1,400 mile journey on an even smaller (174cc) Raleigh. Her aim was to inspire women to ride motorbikes, using a small, lightweight bike to prove that physical strength was not required to ride a motorbike. Not surprisingly, in those years the number of women motorcyclists increased thanks to Marjorie.
Marjorie also contributed to the spread of motorcycling among women and men by writing articles for various trade magazines. During the Second World War, she served as an officer in the National Fire Brigade in 1940 and as an expeditionary rider for the Home Guard, still riding her Triumph.
In later years she worked instead as a motorbike saleswoman to keep in touch with her endless passion. Marjorie passed away at the age of nearly 87 after a short illness. She certainly had an interesting life full of challenges, not just physical ones. Her biggest challenge was to fight the stereotypes and she definitely overcame them, even though the female motorbike enthusiast population is still a minority.
And today? How many girls know how to ride an enduro?
We have to admit that also at Enduro Experience Croatia the majority of our enduro guests are men. But we see that more and more girls are interested in enduro or motocross sports and we are convinced that this is a growing trend.
For girls who want to try enduro riding, we have the KTM Freeride, a light and manoeuvrable bike that is very suitable for beginners and, thanks to its light weight, is particularly popular with the female audience. Come and try it out and ride with our guides, you are sure to have fun.
We look forward to seeing you!
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