Few people cross our paths in life who have earned adjectives such as “influential” or “inspirational.” It is even more rare for those qualities to exist together in a person young and green to the trials of life. Kristen Lassen, founder of Daughters of the Road, has spent more than a quarter of her life on two wheels and can barely conjure up memories in which motorcycles were not part of the foundation of her being.
Kristen comes from an elite bloodline of riding. Her great-grandfather, Jes Lassen, rode old military Harleys and Indians as part of the famous Wall of Death stunt show. His son lived his life on an old Triumph cruising across the Hawaiian landscape, and Kristen’s father, John Lassen, is a Harley-Davidson technician and a Rider Safety Coach. The Lassen family legacy runs rich with gas, gears and elbow grease.
Perhaps one of the most impressive facts about Kristen, also dubbed “Lady Lassen” (the history of which will be covered shortly), is that she embarked on a 5,000-mile cross-country trip to Sturgis from her home state of Florida immediately following her MSF Safety Course when she was just 17 years old.
Not all riders share moments of adversity with the openness that Kristen recounts her first serious brush with the pavement back in 2013. While embarking on another cross-country trip, she passed out from fatigue on her 2009 Sportster and was t-boned by another rider. Serious injury left her bed-ridden for three months and off of her bike for six. When asked if such an experience ever deterred her from getting back on her machine, she just laughs and utters, “No. I was just excited to get back on my bike.” Her fearless nature and respect for both her machine and the road serve as an exemplar for female riders both young and old.
Today, at just 23 years old, Kristen has almost completed her time at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute with the goal of starting a community garage with the man that started it all, her father. Ever the independent mind, Kristen chose mechanics because she never wanted to depend on others to solve issues with her bikes, nor does she satisfy herself without knowing the exact ins and outs of her life’s passion. She also cites her admiration for her father and his mechanical genius as motivation for her to follow in his footsteps.
Lady Lassen, a name dating back to her days as a hip-hop dancer, is used to being a pioneer in her elements. Both hip-hop dancing and motorcycling are fields dominated by men. She has embraced her individuality and runs alongside the boys just as naturally as with the women. Her realization of this evident imbalance helped inspire the motivation to create Daughters of the Road.
DotR is truly a passion project. Inspired by a semi-abusive upbringing prior to moving in with her father, Kristen found herself desperately seeking positive, uplifting role models after which to model herself and the climate of her daily life. Daughters of the Road aims to be that source for women everywhere: a community in which all women can coexist and feed off of the positivity of her likeminded sisters.
When asked to recount a fond road trip memory, she smiled and reminisced about a time in which she and her father were rolling over some anonymous hills in the Midwest. She remembers climbing the hills in anticipation of the unknown that exists on the other side. Upon arriving at the precipice; she saw a beautiful landscape of green, rolling hills extending into the horizon. Smiling, she admitted that this image stands as a metaphor for the life she now chooses to lead-a life in which she is consistently climbing upward, a life in which she excitedly strives to reach the unknown that exists on that other side.
Before the sun blankets the roads every morning, a loud grumble fills the streets leading to a parking lot full of high school students that await its arrival. With noses pressed firmly against the windows, students eagerly watch as their English teacher dismounts from a motorcycle. We all have had that one teacher that we recall as the “cool one”, the one whose baddassery inspired you beyond belief. Mrs. Levy (less formally known as Giselle) is the embodiment of that sentiment for her students and beyond. She analyzes Hamlet with her students during the day, and attends her students rap shows during the night.
As a child, I always found my escape through school. I would stay after school, magnetized to my teachers - always idolizing them and soaking in every bit and piece I could learn. When I met Giselle, I felt that same sense of child-like adoration for her, and I knew that she had just so much to share with the world. We connected at the surface through motorcycles, but as conversations dug deeper we found that our compasses aligned, yet we arrived at the the same ideals through completely different scenarios.
Prior to motorcycles taking lead in her life, Giselle was married at a young age. She quickly settled into the routine of domesticity, moving along the routine path that had been laid out for her following college. One day she realized the isolation she had been forced into. The people and passions slipped through her fingertips as she focused merely on the ring that tied her life together. As the relationship had found itself at the crossroads, she had to make a decision that would turn her life around.
A divorce left her living with a roommate for the first time at the age of 23. That roommate found his asylum in the building and restoring of vintage metric motorcycles. Watching him turn these dusty, once-loved machines into something new and vibrant again became a metaphor for what she craved so badly in life. She wanted to take the ruins of what she had falsely built to become the frame for a new life, rejuvenated and impassioned. In an effort to fulfill that desire, she arrived at the decision to get her motorcycle license and hopped on her first bike, a 650cc 2006 Suzuki Boulevard (better known as the Savage).
While she loved the feeling of being on a motorcycle, she found that she craved something more. Sheserendipitously sold that Savage (via Craigslist) to a man who would later become her husband. He had just moved from Europe to begin school at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. With an intoxicating drive for motorcycles and the open road, she kindled her fire to his flame. Shedding herself free from the weight of her past life, she purchased a 2016 XL883N. It became a canvas to which she could finally express her individuality and learn about a whole new side of herself that had yet to be explored. It is through the liberation of consistent riding that she has had the opportunity to reconnect with herself.
With a culmination of passions including storytelling, teaching, and of course, riding motorcycles she constantly dreams of creating the perfect source of knowledge, empowerment and support from which all women could truly benefit. It was with no hesitation that we gravitated towards this journey together. With Daughters of The Road she plans to not only inspire others with her love of two wheels, but for it to serve as a guiding source of light for the further development of her soul.