A happy birthday love-note filled with photos and behind-the-scenes goodness from my time with the fastest woman on earth, Jessi Combs.
An Interview with Stacie B London
Stacie B London is a motorcycling woman living in Los Angeles- she rides, races, and loves old bikes.
My buddies Justin and Kyra at WestX1000 and Peanut Butter Coast recently completed an interview with Stacie, complete with video by Christopher Pattillo of POA Films. Kyra also wrote the guest post, “8 Tips to Inspire Your Lady to Ride” back in December of 2014.
Stacie B. London – The East Side Babe: Getting to Know L.A.’s Motorcycle Maven
Author: Kyra Sacdalan | Photographer: Justin Coffey
Stacie was a topic of conversation amongst the three of us – Justin, Chris and I – for a couple of weeks before I met her in person. We had all intended to do it sooner, but schedules weren’t working in our favor. The boys had been planning to film and photograph her aboard her beautiful BMW R60US for their short surf film. But unfortunately, as the world works, she (and her motorcycle) had recently fallen victim to some Space Cadet in an old Volvo, and both her and the bike were out of commission.
By the time I had the pleasure of meeting Stacie B. London, it was Justin’s birthday celebration at the Roosevelt hotel and let’s just say she arrived a little late in the day. You’d be amazed how many margaritas you can drink before dark! Shenanigans aside, the meeting went well. Graciously, she allowed us to film her on a borrowed BMW the next morning… er, afternoon. She never mentioned how ridiculous we were the night before, nor did she seem to judge us for it! Stacie just did as she promised and rode ‘round windy curves, under shadowy over-passes and followed Chris’s giant Ford truck – merely inches from the bumper – so we might get the best possible footage of her doing what she does best. One of the many things she does best, rather.
Not only a motorcycle maven and popular public figure in Southern California, with a Master’s in Industrial Design and a passion for art, Stacie has been the Exhibition Designer at MOCA for nearly seven years. She has also given her talents to a number of galleries, charities and most of all her motorcycle club (more like a VMA support group), the “East Side Moto Babes.” Formed in 2010, Stacie hoped to bring together riding and racing enthusiasts with an edge for vintage bikes. The members in this group are women-only, though the rides and events are mostly coed. The intention was to provide female motorcyclists – new and old – with support, information and friendship. Not only empowering women to ride, it has helped build a vibrant motorcycle community. What the current members of the group – and fans alike – have in common is the doctor-declined, self-proclaimed “MotoPhilia” [read: Moto Love] disease for which no one is finding a cure. Nor do they want to.
In the interview below, Ms. London tell us a bit more about her and her hopeless addiction.
What inspired you to start riding motorcycles?
I don’t know where or when I was first inspired to ride, the idea has always been with me. My dad is a gear head, but into boats and cars, so I grew up around engines and speed. He prefers the ocean and the security four wheels and has been on many yachting adventures and has a couple of land-speed records. Riding motorcycles is just something I’ve always wanted and needed to do. It’s the perfect combination of combustion and landscape that has influenced me since before I can remember and satisfies so many interweaving interests. It just makes sense.
You’re a seasoned Vintage Motorcycle Racer, tell us about your first, if not most memorable day on the track.
My first day at the track was actually the day I went to get my racing license. Before racing school, I had never ridden on a track, let alone ridden my newly acquired 1968 Honda CB160 racer in 4th gear. Up to that point, all of experience had been practicing with the racer in a parking lot where in 3rd gear the high revving machine attracted so much attention that 4th was just not an option. On top of that, there just wasn’t a long enough straight for it to wind up to 4th. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that this inexperience had any bearing on signing up for racing school and getting my racing license straight away. So just two years after purchasing my first motorcycle, a 1969 BMW R60US, and learning how to ride, on a cloudy and drizzly Sunday in March, I got up at the crack of dawn, packed up my racer and gear into my truck, and set off for Willow Springs. While the instructor, former AMA Pro Racer Thad Wolff, put me through the paces, a doubt never entered my mind that I would not earn my racing license that day in order to be able to go on to race in AHRMA’s Corsa Motoclassica 2011 at the end of April, just a year after attending my first race as a spectator. Even though at the end of the exhausting day I packed up and drove home empty handed, after that first day on the track I was so excited and knew that racing was something I was going to do. Nothing was going to stand in my way of getting my racing license so I could race at Corsa in a month. While it didn’t turn out as straight forward, as with most detours it was a much richer experience, and I did race at Corsa and went on to race at Miller and Barber that year.
What’s the significance of the triple five (or Triple Nickel) on your number plate?
Once I did get my license, it was time to pick a number. The number I wanted was not available and I was assigned 555. I didn’t think much of it until people started calling me Triple Nickel and I just went with it.
As the founder of East Side Moto Babes in Los Angeles, we know you do a ton of events, but how much time do you have left to just get together with the ‘babes’ and ride?
Time in my life has always been fairly structured, so it seems normal to me that I don’t have much “free” time. Especially now that I race, racing actually takes a lot of work and preparation. Race-prep an important aspect that is over overlooked for all the adrenalin and excitement. It is rare that I have time for spontaneous rides or plans, but ESMB rides together every Tuesday night. We’ve been doing a Tuesday night meet-up and ride for 5 years and its become not only a night we look forward to, but also the community that’s formed around us looks forward to it too. It’s true, my weekends are jammed packed between prepping my race bike, getting in some practice out of town with the dirt bike, planning the next big thing, and keeping up with my family and non/pre-moto friends, so there isn’t much spontaneous time to just get out and ride. But because it is so infrequent, it makes it all the more cherished. There is no time to take things for granted.
Recently you rode the Los Angeles/Barstow/Vegas (LAB2V) dual-sport ride, how did you fair?
LAB2V was something that I’ve wanted to do for a few years and it was nothing short of awesome completing it, especially riding through Red Rock Canyon. Usually I just dive right into a challenge, but LAB2V was different, and I’m glad I waited for this one. Waiting gave me time to talk to people who had done it, get the right bike and gear, and some time to train. Training and learning never ends and that’s where choosing the right riding partner and support team steps in. Deus Ex Machina USA is one of my racing sponsors and has had a team that has done the LAB2V for the past three years so I’m lucky that there was space for me to just step into an experienced squad. I’ve been getting more and more into enduro riding since a 2-wheeled adventure to Cabo San Lucas and back last year with my boyfriend Jim Downs. Jim is a champion cyclist so is not easily intimidated and thrives on challenge making us a great team because we are both always thinking many steps ahead and when one starts to hit an endurance wall the other steps in with a solution. We never would have made it through all of Red Rock Canyon’s rock gardens without each other, but we did and were able to catch an amazing sunset through the red canyons on our way back down onto the paved road.
What keeps you calm when shit gets “real?”
I’m not immune to anxiety; however along the way I’ve learned that freaking out doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it distracts you from being in the moment, interrupts experiences while also taking up valuable energy that could be used more efficiently; like staying calm in order to find a solution. It’s possible that the hand I was dealt has prepared me for higher levels of pressure, but that doesn’t mean that I am not emotional and don’t freak out. It just means I have a different threshold and show it in different ways. Usually I become less animated and more focused and intense which seems to freak people out because I become more serious and my tone changes. People that are goal oriented and have experienced high pressure situations seem to relate, while others do not, and become offended by my curtness. In my already communicative life, I’ve been making more of an effort to communicate so that people around me understand what mode I’m in, but here again is when choosing a compatible team is crucial. Often, when “shit gets real” there is no time for pleasantries and the mission takes over. Mostly, I think that I am just wired in a way that I’m extremely sensitive to my surroundings, take in and try to process lots of information, and am always looking for opportunities and ways to avoid potential problems. When a problem or setback does arise, I immediately begin dissecting it in order to figure out what I can do to help solve things, so we can continue moving forward, and reach the goal. To do this I need to think clearly, in order to think clearly I need to be calm, in order to be calm I need to stay focused, and in order to stay focused I need to not get distracted by my emotions or ego and freak out or be affected by people freaking out around me. I’m a big fan of looking ahead, finding solutions, and moving forward. There is no greater pleasure than being and effective part of a team and reaching a goal.
What’s your favorite off-pavement terrain to ride so far?
I haven’t ridden off road enough to have a favorite, but I really loved riding to Coco’s Corner in Baja California, Mexico. It may have had something to do with the fact that it was Christmas Eve after a long few days on the road and we were finally off road, away from the wind blasting semis. It may have also had something to do with the picturesque Baja California desert landscape that at the time felt like we had designed the perfect movie backdrop to set the scene for the perfect combination of gravel, rocks, sand, twists, and turns to make for the “perfect” ride. It could have had something to do with the fact that we arrived just as a glorious December sunset was turning into twilight to this remote corner that turned out to be a patch of dirt, a few trailers, and man cheering; grinning from ear to ear and hopping up and down on legs that had been amputated from the knees down, and a roaring fire pit burning. Or maybe it was the car chase back up the dirt trail alone with a drunk Coco in Coco’s truck with balloon tires, racing to catch up with the only other car that had shared the desolate trail for several hours in order to find and possibly retrieve my bag with all my clothes and belongings that had bounced off my bike on that perfect ride. Perhaps it just getting away long enough to be reminded that once everything is stripped away humans have an incredible capacity for connection, survival, and trust. The thing I love about motorcycle adventures is that it’s not just about the route, although the route is very important, it’s also about the things that happen en-route, it’s about everything else.
If you were going to take us out for tacos, where would it be?
WESTx1000 was conceived in a coin-op laundry room in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. What started as an excuse to ride dirt bikes in Baja, has become an online portal into the lives of two overzealous individuals, love drunk and eager for their next (motorcycle?) adventure.
Documenting the infamous Baja 1000 off-road race, exploring the back roads of the Pacific Northwest, circumnavigating Japan on small sport bikes, or riding dual-sports from Barstow to Vegas, the idea stays the same: “If you get far enough away you’ll be on your way back home.” – Tom Waits
Watch the POA Films video on the Official MotoLady youtube–