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The Five Whys: Leah Misch

Leah escaped an abusive relationship and self-destructive mindset to become a cross-country-riding inspiration

Wisconsin-based Leah Misch is a nurse, writer, motivational speaker, and all-round amazing woman who spends much of her time criss-crossing the United States astride her Indian Scout. The first time I ever saw Leah, she was riding through downtown Minneapolis on her Scout, laden with bags, looking bad-ass. I thought: “I definitely need to be friends with that woman.” You can catch up with her via her website, Riding with Leah.

When did you start riding and why?

I started riding in 2010 – a year that was a major turning point in my life. It was the year I focused on me and finally living. The year I created my bucket list of goals, started Team “You Go Girl,” and found a passion for running. I overcame morbid obesity and ran my first 5k. This was the year I took risks, went skydiving, and learned to ride a motorcycle. It was also the year I broke my back and ribs, punctured my lung, and lost a good chunk of skin to road rash after crashing my first motorcycle. It didn’t stop me.

What bike do you own and why did you choose it?

I own a 2015 Indian Scout. The short answer of why I chose it was that it worked for me. Right height, looked right, felt right. It still does everything I need, from powering through a tour of the country, to bopping around town, to blasting through the curvy hills of the Mississippi River Valley.

What bike do you dream of owning and why?

I admit, I used to be one of those people who questioned the purpose of owning multiple motorcycles. I thought: “What’s the point of owning multiple motorcycle if a person can only ride one bike at a time?”

Nowadays I look at motorcycles like shoes. Stick with me here… Similar to running shoes being ideal for running or flip-flops ideal for the beach sand, different bikes serve different purposes. I now understand why people own more than one bike. I still only own or want one bike.

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But if I were considering something else I’d like the Ducati Scrambler. Last summer I went to New Zealand to spend some time riding with Lee Munro, great-nephew of Bonneville legend Burt Munro. Lee chose to ride around on a Ducati Scrambler which proved to me it’s a solid bike that can tour and take curvy roads with power. Plus there is always something exotic about an Italian motorcycle.

What’s the best motorcycling adventure you’ve had so far?

I’ve had so many amazing adventures on two wheels, from riding in New Zealand with Lee Munro to blasting through the Angeles National Forest on the Harley-Davidson press launch for the new 2018 Softail line (I assigned Leah to cover that event for RideApart back when I was director of that site, so I feel she’s being kind in listing this as a top experience –CC). However, I would have to say my favorite was my 10,0000-mile solo tour around the United States in 2016.

Why was that trip so special to you?

I learned a lot about myself. I lived outside my comfort zone and did something I never thought I could do. I met some amazing people, which opened up some life-changing opportunities. Plus, I rode some of the most beautiful roads in the United States – traveling through national parks, mountains, and deserts all the way to the ocean.

Where do you dream of riding and why?

I’d like to be able to say I’ve ridden every one of the 50 US states. So far, I’ve ridden 39 of the lower 48 states. I still have to tackle New England, but that’s not too daunting considering the states’ close proximity to one another. Alaska will be a bigger challenge, though.

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I’ve thought a lot about riding my Scout all the way tho Alaska, but I think I’d like to be a little more confident about motorcycle mechanics before I attempt a solo tour into the great wilderness. I’ll do it one of these days, though.

Would you like to share your own “Five Whys” experience? Get in touch!