From model to biker to small business owner and more, Leticia Cline continues to chart her path
Words by Kali Kotoski
Photos courtesy Leticia Cline
Kentucky-native Leticia Cline has a habit of breaking the glass ceiling, whether that is in her modeling career, as an avid biker or, more recently, as an elected city council member for her hometown of Cave City.
While she has definitely earned her stripes on two wheels, having represented numerous motorcycle manufacturers and aftermarket brands over the years as well as leading the 2015 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to help raise funds for prostate cancer research, Leticia also knows that even the most seasoned rider can encounter close calls.
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 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.
Returning to her hometown after a whirlwind of life experiences has increased her drive to advocate for the community and provide opportunities.
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. Over 500 people showed up for what would have been her father’s 67th birthday.
She also started The Dive in 2019, a local cocktail bar and live music space operated with the help of her sister and mother. But as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing her to close down temporarily and then operating under state restrictions, she turned her ambitions to running for city council. And she won the 2020 election on a platform of supporting small businesses, tourism-related businesses and economic development plans for Cave City. She also volunteers at many local charity events, organizes food drives and works to support education initiatives.
“I’ll bring ideas for creative economic development. Lead efforts for a solid master plan for the entire city limits and attract investments to make downtown [Cave City] a greater destination,” her campaign material said, adding that the city needs a diverse amount of retail and service-oriented businesses as well as better financial opportunities.
While motorcycling is still a core part of her identity, Leticia has been able to wear numerous hats throughout her life while always staying true to her mission of advocacy.
“We are not the weaker sex and we can do whatever we want,” she said, adding how she has seen how female riding has exploded since the early 2000s when women weren’t taking seriously. Now, women riders are a segment of motorcycling that can’t be ignored.
Talk about breaking the glass ceiling!
A great article, yes, there are a lot of women past and present that did and are kicking butt, and as A 70 year old motorcycling guy (and still doing a lot of it) I find this refreshing. We need more women in the passion of two wheel adventure.
Those small-town girls sure know how to blaze a trail – especially when they go back to their home towns to make a better place. Love the reinvention. Never stop.