Q&A | Lily Brooks-Dalton
Photo by Daniela Maria/Iron & Air.
I've been writing this blog for well over five years now, there have been lulls, and there have been times when I've admittedly felt burnt out. But week after week, month after month, and year after year, there are these women that pop up on my radar that truly inspire the idea that this blog champions. I just feel really lucky that I get to steward this tight-knit community of women. Reading about and conversing with Lily Brooks-Dalton is one of those moments that reminds me what this is all about. She is gutsy, passionate, and a true adventuress. Her memoir, Motorcycles I've Loved was published earlier this year and tells the story of how she found her way in the world on a bike. From an electric blue Honda Rebel 250 to a Magna 750 she rode all over the world.
Below a little bit from Lily on how she came to her book and her Q&A further down.
LBD: When I started writing the essays that would later become chapters of Motorcycles I’ve Loved, I was living in Massachusetts, going to school, waiting tables, and falling in love with my first motorcycle. At the time, I was struggling through an introductory physics course, and for whatever reason, taking physics concepts and pairing them with motorcycles not only made so much more sense to me (whereas the equations were gobbledegook), it also inspired me. I started writing, and bit by bit my own story crept in. Those three elements—the theoretical sensibility of physics, the practical, mechanical reality of motorcycles, and the emotional experiences that make up my personal history—are the foundation for the memoir that followed.
When I was writing this book, I had a burning desire to communicate the things I was learning: about myself, about motorcycles, about the physical world around me. Giving myself permission to tell that story, and feeling that it what worthy of being written down, was such a battle. Now, my favorite part of having this book out in the world is the readers I speak to who can relate to the urgency that led me to ride, to explore, and then to write it all down… that sense of determination to do something new or unexpected, whether it’s riding a motorcycle, writing a book, or something else entirely.
If not in Portland, I would live in...the middle of nowhere. I’m dreaming of the rural life lately.
My dream vacation would be to…I actually just took my dream vacation, which was to ride my motorcycle coast to coast with my partner, and it was every bit as awesome as I wanted it to be. I guess a need a new dream vacation!
My current obsessions are...
Food: Donuts, always. Blue Star here in Portland is the place, and their raspberry buttermilk donut is the best. I will keep taste-testing to be sure. And Ken’s Artisan Bakery, down the street from where I live, makes a rose croissant that is heavenly.
Music: Lots of instrumental stuff while I’m writing—Olafur Arnalds and Bach get a lot of speaker-time. But then I also have a Nicki Minaj Pandora station that I like listening to while I ride, so… there’s a range.
Fashion: Woolrich flannels. I’m not sure why now, it’s been so hot in Portland lately, but I’m obsessed at the moment—I’ve acquired three new flannels in the past two weeks and I have my
eye on another one. Someone stop me. And the staples, of course: slim leg Carhartts or blue
jeans, Frye engineer boots, soft gray t-shirts, and anything made of waxed canvas or old leather. I recently found a pair of kevlar leggings by GoGo Gear that I wear on my motorcycle and they are perfect.
Retail Stores: Will Leather Goods for visiting the beautiful things I can’t afford, Powell’s for the
books I don’t need, and Lush for the crazy-colored, magical-smelling bath bombs that keep me sane during winter.
I channel my childhood self when I... am in the company of my mother.
The fictional character I most relate to is...Meg from A Wrinkle in Time.
If I had to be outdoors all day I would…require a hammock, a hat, some sturdy shoes, and a lake to swim in.
My favorite quality in a man is...kindness and irreverence.
My favorite quality in a woman is...kindness and irreverence.
I'm terrified of…being tickled.
My dream car is a…motorcycle, of course. An old BMW R69S please.
My beauty product of choice is… coconut oil for everything: makeup remover, dry hair and skin, chapped lips, shaving, whatever. It’s amazing stuff.
My friends and I like to… grill meat, ride dirt bikes, build bonfires, talk about feelings.
If I could go back in time for one decade it would be... to go hang out with the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde in 900 AD or so.
As a teenager I was totally into... being a hot mess. Also hair dye, Hunter S. Thompson, and a pair of combat boots I really wish I still had.
I tend to splurge on… dessert, massages, books, and bikes.
A bold heart and a comfortable get-up…is what makes me have Tomboy Style.