Got a Girl Crush On: Lynda Lucas of La Motocyclette Magazine
Tell us about about yourself–who you are and what you do.
Lynda Lucas: I’m senior visual designer for a design consultancy called frog design. Just moved to Brooklyn from San Francisco about 5 months ago. New York rules so hard, but I miss glorious Californian nature; epic redwoods and sweeping coastlines.
How long have you been riding a motorcycle and who or what drew you to want to ride and own one? What’s been the hardest part?
LL:I rode vintage mopeds for several years and was involved in a nation-wide community of moped gangs called Moped Army. After moving to California several years ago I started wanting to leave the city to go on longer trips and enjoy the glorious nature; which is difficult on a moped.
Let me paint a picture for you of the exact minute I decided I had to learn how to ride motorcycles. I used to live above a sketchy motorcycle gang clubhouse (don’t tell my mom!). One night I was coming home, and a gang member asked me what I thought of his new high handle bars. Because I was so involved in the more gender-neutral moped community at the time, I answered without censoring myself. I said something like, “oh, my arms would probably get tired if I had handlebars like that.” He responded with shocked laughter, “Oh, sweetheart, I didn’t mean you could ride it, bitches ride on the back.”
Bitches. Ride. On. The. Back.
I will remember that moment always, and the certainty that I would prove people like him wrong.
How does motorcycle culture speak and appeal to you and what is it like to be a female biker in a predominantly/historically boys club type of sport?
LL: Because learning how to ride was such a long and hard process for me, it’s also been one of the most rewarding journeys. Riding forces you to constantly push up against the limits of your physical strength and will and has stretched me beyond any preconceived notions of my own capacity. I’ve cried in a gas station before because I was so scared of being blown off the windy highway on my small bike. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought I was going to die. Or the number of times this amazing feeling of conquering my own fear has been perfectly timed with the moment I make a turn around a bend on a road and a sweeping view of mountains unfolds. Facing your fears on a daily basis like that changes you forever.
The gender thing is a fun party-sized can of worms. I went on a 1,700 mile road trip last year from San Francisco to the Grand Canyon to Vegas. Many other male riders were dazed and confused at the fact I was riding on my own bike, and not on the back. I started realizing that I loved the fact that I was doing something that was seen as stereotypically masculine.
La Motocyclette (the magazine that I run) features interviews with many lady motorcyclists who have varying degrees of experience. They come from all different sub cultures and the whole point is to tell their stories and to show by example that women come to motorcycling from very different places and all seem to gain this empowerment from it.
Because my whole journey of riding motorcycles started with a sexist encounter with the male motorcycle rider, I wanted to address that issue in the magazine and see if other women riders had similar stories. Through the interviewing process, I’ve asked a lot of people the same questions, from pro-racers to total newbies. The gender question is by far the most controversial question. I usually asking something like, “what’s the best part about being a woman rider, and the worst part?” Some women love being unique, being the only woman on the race track. Other women wish that that this wasn’t even a discussion topic: that riding motorcycles was a completely gender-equal pastime. I see both sides of the coin.
How did La Motocyclette originate? What made you want to create a women-specific magazine?
LL: Cortney Cassidy and I were creative collaborators in a part time design studio called CCOOLL for about 2 years. We had collaborated on lots of zines in the past, because both of us have a print background; she worked at Dwell Magazine and I worked at Chronicle Books. CCOOLL was an incredible and fruitful creative partnership–we constantly tossed around new ideas for projects and zines.
Because La Moto launched under the umbrella of CCOOLL, which occupies a space in the art and design world, it was extremely important that the design and aesthetic would be beautiful and modern. Cortney came up with the name, inspired by a French 60’s movie starring Marianne Faithful. Together we laid the foundation for the art direction of the book. Cortney is one of the most talented designers I know and La Moto wouldn’t look as beautiful as it does without her input. Frankly, so many motorcycle magazines out there aren't well designed. That’s the sweet spot I hope La Motocyclette occupies, an artful and aesthetically pleasing zine that happens to be about a powerful subject that inspires women to try to learn new things and challenge their limits.
What has been the most unexpected outcome about starting/running the magazine? What are your hopes for it in the future?
LL: The attention it’s received has been unexpected. It really started as a love letter to something that I've personally derived so much emotional strength and growth from. La Moto has grown rapidly and struck such a chord with so many women. There are some incredibly powerful stories I’ve had the privilege of publishing. We recently made the decision to make it separate from CCOOLL and be it’s own independent entity. La Motocyclette is also beginning to feature international women riders.
The future seems bright, I would love for it to grow into a book one day, or maybe a series of videos. La Moto is a collection of narratives that’s coalescing. Telling those stories in a bigger avenue to a broader audience would be exciting. Collaborating with other artists and publishing entities would be exciting too.
What is the importance of belonging to an all-female moto club like The Miss-Fires?
LL: Incredible to have a network and community of supportive women riders, with knowledge and connections to draw from. I moved here so recently and it’s been like falling into a huge loving family of lady badasses. Most of the riding I’ve done has been with men and women overall, which is probably true for most of the Miss-Fires members as well. But as any of the Miss-Fires could tell you, riding with a crew of women is something that stirs your soul.
Suzanne Cellura (M-F member): We all know a lot of dude riders. Most of us got the riding bug from a dude, whether it be our fathers or our exes, etc. We took the giant leap to go out and get our own bikes and learn to ride and take that risk every goddamn time we get on that beautiful machine. It’s nice to know that there are other strong, beautiful, fearless, successful, badass ladies doing the exact same thing. The sisterhood, the tribe, whatever it may be, having a common connection when it comes to something as huge as motorcycling is really one of the greatest feelings in the goddamn universe. I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have met such amazing women.
Amanda Haase (M-F member): I agree 100% with Suzanne… I couldn’t have said it better. Also worth adding–I think there’s a bit of an ego when it comes to some men that ride and you don’t feel that with these women. We accept that some people are still learning, some may be a little more timid on the bike, some may not know as much about wrenching, etc. etc. But we encourage each other to learn more, ride more and take that next step to build more confidence. It’s a great support system and if one of us falls, we’re there to pick each other up.
Who is your current girl crush?
LL: Buffy the Vampire Slayer will always be my girl crush.
And Tauba Auerbach. Read this quote from graphic designer icon Milton Glaser about how women can’t be “rock star designers” if you want to get real mad. Then look at Tauba Auerbach’s work and laugh at Milton.
I also have a girl crush on Got a Girl Crush! The simple truth is gender equality won’t be achieved until we have more examples and role models of women being amazing and bad ass. Organizations who help promote that goal, like Got a Girl Crush are my heroes. When I was interviewing Shelina Moreda, a woman pro racer, she told me a story about taking her helmet off one day and seeing a little girl on the sidelines staring at her. The boundaries of the universe that makes up the little girl’s imagination of her own future were expanding. That’s beautiful. And we need much more of that.
What do you say to people that think riding a motorcycle is dangerous?
LL: Celisse Muller, Editor & Stylist for La Moto and regular contributor put it the best. She said, “I would rather almost die every day rather than live a boring life.”
photos & interview by Meg Wachter
more photos: here