Hannah Lott-Schwartz

Meet Hannah! As a (fantastic) writer, she is usually not the subject of an article, but instead the creator of the story. But we are so fascinated with her that we just had to learn more about her! Here’s what we found out!

Your site itsaseahorse.com is so aesthetically appealing and pleasant to read while also highlighting your many years of incredible work. Are there one or two assignments you’ve been on that are particularly memorable and for what reason(s)?

Oh, you’re too good to me! So my website serves as a portfolio to showcase selected work throughout my journalism career, but I’m not as diligent as I should be at updating it with recent articles. Selecting pieces to feature on the site is hard, and choosing from among those to talk about is even harder. 

A lot of what makes an assignment memorable happens behind the scenes, the connections and close-calls and love formed and lost that falls outside the scope of the piece and so doesn’t make it into the storytelling. An example of that (that’s also relevant to Wind & Throttle) is an article I wrote about Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which uses the women’s-only Wild Gypsy Tour within Sturgis as a lens for examining a larger argument: that the motorcycle industry as a whole needs to attract more women or face extinction. I did that for Mic, an outlet that told important, compelling, and often fun stories before sadly folding in November last year (though the site still lives as a skeleton with some new content being pushed from time to time). 

I’m a new rider, and heading to Sturgis was way out of my comfort zone. But the opportunity to cover a women’s-only moto festival within the historic Sturgis Rally — I couldn’t pass that up. The article that resulted is much more of a news-style of writing: a little dry, straight-forward, not a lot of focus on characters, which was such a challenge because the experience was made for me by the characters I met. It was a powerfully emotional assignment for me; I’ve always felt like an outsider, but here I found my pack. 

You recently wrote an article on one of our favorite designers, Jenna of Stellar Moto Brand. We love that you’re all over the motorcycle world! What do you love most about being a part of moto community?

That there’s a community! Like I said above, I’ve felt like an outsider my entire life — very much a reluctant lone wolf. I just don’t really feel like I fit in with many groups. I’m naturally more of an observer, and a bit shy or reserved, but in the moto community none of that matters. I’ve felt so accepted. When I was at the Wild Gypsy Tour for that Mic article I mentioned earlier (which is also how I met Jenna), there was this beautiful phenomenon that I watched unfold, one that I got to be a part of. We were a collective made up of loners and fiercely independent leaders. But together, we were a pack.

I tried to stay on the outskirts, in part because that’s where I thought I belonged, but the women of the WGT weren’t having it. They made sure I knew I was one of them, and that they were happy to have me.

There’s a lot of tribe talk out there these days, but I really do feel that within the moto community I’ve found a collective of people — women in particular — who understand, embody, and value a set of primal instincts that tether us to land, not to a specific place but to place itself, and to each other.

What motorcycle do you ride and is there a reason why you chose it?

My everyday ride is a 1980 Suzuki GS250. It’s this rad little beater with big trail tires and a lot of spirit. I live on the coast, and it’s perfect for mobbing around town for errands and commuting to my coworking space. I also have a ’77 Honda CB550, but I don’t trust it as much, and as a new rider, that’s kept me from going all in on it. I made the mistake that every seasoned rider warns newbies against: Both bikes fit an aesthetic I’m attracted to. They were also both cheap — all that practice haggling in foreign countries finally paid off, I guess — and at the time I was hesitant to invest a big chunk of money into a new interest, especially when there was also gear to buy. Now though I really want something bigger, newer, and faster.

What do you enjoy most and least about traveling so much?

Traveling makes your world bigger and smaller at the same time. It allows me a very specific perspective that’s been intensely valuable for how I move through life. It’s a constant practice in delaying judgement in favor of receptivity. It fosters compassion, which I think the world needs more of. Traveling so much makes me appreciate everything more, not only the thrill of discovering new lands and cultures but also the ease and comfort of home. The downside? Man, is it hard AF to date. Lots of opportunities for far-away affairs and meaningful but momentary connections all over the world, but finding that at home in any sort of lasting capacity is a struggle.

Are there one or two countries you’ve been to that you absolutely love and that stand out from the rest? If so, what was it about them that made them memorable? 

Jennifer! You ask the hardest questions! I do have my favorites though. Mexico will always be a soul place for me. I grew up in a border town, so Mexico always feels familiar, whether I’m heading somewhere I’ve been before or somewhere new (it is a massive country, after all). I just got back from Turkey a few days ago (well, I had when I originally started answering these questions), and that wooed me hard. It’s unlike anywhere I’ve been. Istanbul itself straddles two continents, three identities, and multiple eras — but there are political concerns to consider, especially now, which is delaying my initial fantasy of moving there for a few months. Also up there: Japan, Morocco, Norway, and Cuba.

How do you pass the time on long trips? Do you read, write (not for work though!) or listen to music as you travel? 

Honestly, if I have the chance for downtime on a flight, I space the fuck out (though I’m on a flight right now and took the opportunity to try get you these questions back!). I’m guilty of being addicted to being busy — something I’m working on, but the freelance life is a hustle (in a way that I enjoy), so it’s hard to feel like I can take time to myself because there’s always something else to do. So when there’s forced downtime, I sort of collapse into it. That being said, I’m always reading a few books at a time, so I’ll switch up between reading, listening to music, and watching movies on a flight (it’s the only time I ever see movies, so it’s a chance for me to stay relevant haha). Once I hit the ground though, I’m working. I’m writing, taking tons of notes, photos, talking to strangers — just like Mom taught me. I answer emails late at night and early in the morning and report all day. 

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? If you moved, what drew you to your new home base?

I grew up in a small town in San Diego’s North County, and I live only a few miles from there now. I moved away a few times — Santa Barbara, Boston — but I came back out of necessity to take care of family. I never wanted to move home, because in my head it was a step back. But I’m so happy that circumstances brought me back here so that I had the opportunity to appreciate this area for what it is. It’s a beautiful basecamp.

As a freelancer, do you keep yourself on a schedule or have certain morning habits that you stick to?

Because I travel so much, I’ve tried to adopt some form of routine when I’m home. That usually involves the gym at 6 a.m., followed by a walk to the beach with my coffee, always barefoot. Starting the day with my feet on the earth grounds me in a way that’s irreplecable. Then I ride to the coworking space or to a coffee shop to pound keys for a bit and get some facetime with people; otherwise, the isolation of freelancing can be suffocating.

What is your favorite way to relax? 

Music, reading at the beach, happy hour with friends, walking the dog… If I have more time, I’ll fuck off to Joshua Tree to see a show and camp or to the mountains to hike. And I don’t know that I’d call it relaxing, per se, but there’s something beautiful about the kind of presence riding demands. That hyper awareness, free of anxiety but feeling everything — there’s a beauty in that. It’s the first thing I do when I get home from a trip; even if I only have enough energy to go around the block, I gotta say hi to my machine.

To get your fix of all of Hannah’s adventures, follow along on Instagram at @itsaseahorse and pop over to her website at itsaseahorse.com.

xJW

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