Photos courtesy of Leticia Cline
For motorcyclists, spills are bound to happen, even for the most seasoned rider. And for Kentucky’s Leticia Cline, it’s no different.
Once, on her way to Sturgis, a buffalo charged while she was riding, tearing up her knee. Then in Northern Thailand on a motorcycle tour, the group hit a diesel spill up near the Burmese border, further damaging that knee after she low-sided and pushed the bike aside to clear the road.
“I always ride everywhere because early on I was never taken seriously because I didn’t look like a biker,” Cline said. “So, there I was, with surgery scheduled, when I decided I wanted to get on some adventure bikes.”
Cline has ridden through two hurricanes, flash floods, tropical storms and has raced Harley-Davidsons in Hooligan competition and flat track, and earned three Iron Butt awards. It would be difficult for anybody to replicate her motorcycle and life resume, which also includes modelling for Playboy and Maxim, working for the Trump Organization and starring in the Ashton Kutcher-produced reality TV series Beauty and the Geek. Plus, she loves skydiving and all extreme sports.
“I have always said that modeling killed my motorcycle career, and motorcycling killed my modeling career,” she said. “Finally, I said fuck it! I knew it when I posted a photo of my motorcycle on Instagram and it got more likes than me in a bikini.”
But in a lot of respects, pursuing a career in motorcycles was never a choice. It was just life coming full circle. Cline grew up with motorcycles and, to her, it was just like a language she had always spoken. There is even old 8mm footage from when she only six months old showing her tinkering on bikes with her father, “Smiley.” Cline took a brief hiatus from the sport when her father unexpectedly passed away. She rode his Softail to the funeral in 2008 and didn’t ride again until 2014.
Over the course of her career she has represented numerous brands. In 2015, she represented the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to help raise funds for prostate cancer research. Cline has also survived her own battle with cancer.
On the 10th anniversary of her father’s passing, Cline started renovating his old garage in Cave City, Kentucky. It is now a community garage, free to the public. She has also opened up a bar, Smiley’s, in his honor. Over 500 people showed up for what would have been her father’s 67th birthday.
Cline acknowledges that in the early 2000s the industry didn’t take female riders seriously. Since then, female riding has exploded.
“We are not the weaker sex and we can do whatever we want,” she said, adding that manufacturers have taken notice in designing bikes comfortable for both sexes.
Her advice to new female riders is to take a class and get comfortable, and don’t be afraid of bigger bikes.
“Problem is, women tend to go small but the bigger the bike the easier it is to ride,” she said.