Our Friends over at VC London are gearing up for their annual campout called Camp VC in Wales. We had the best time with the crew at out Babes Ride Out UK event and we are so thrilled to see this event continue and grow! Read on to see more about how it all got started and what they have in store for this years event.
Whats your name?
Gemma Harrison (one third of VC London)
Where are you from?
Originally from Leeds in the north of England & now living in East London
How long have you been riding a motorcycle?
Just a little over 7 years now (!)
What inspired you to first start riding?
It was actually my husband that first got me into riding after giving me his first bike. That & the fact that I didn't want to hang out on the back anymore…Then I met Namin & Mai (the 2 other thirds of VC London) and motorcycles basically turned into our lives .
What do you ride now?
My daily ride is a 1966 Triumph 5ta custom bobber but I also have a CRF 100 for flat track, a Yamaha DT125 2 stroke, an SR125 & a KTM 250 EXC that I share with my other half.
When did VC London first start?
VC london first started in 2015. Myself & Namin met whilst working together in the fashion industry. I had already been riding a while & Namin was just starting out. The we met Mai who really wanted to start riding so we offered to help out & teach her on our bikes. It was this that started us thinking about the obstacles that women face in order to get into bikes & how could go about trying to change things. We put out a post on a little social media account that we started up asking women that wanted to give riding a go to get in touch & we were inundated so we started our free lessons. Since then we’ve given over 250 women their first try on a motorcycle. Our lessons are sort of a taster to riding so after this we then give advice on how to go get more training & go forward to get your license. Some girls go on to get their license, some girls go on to race but then some girls just do it that once & decide its not for them. Either way is cool with us & everyone leaves with a smile. The bottom line is that riding is a dangerous thing to do & you can never forget that. Its not for everyone but helping girls giving something new a try is often pretty amazing to be a part of.
How did it come together? How has it grown and evolved over the years?
Its grown really organically over the last 3 years from beginning with us teaching girls to ride on our old 125cc motorcycles in a disused parking lot in East London to organizing different events in London & all over the UK from dirt riding events in collab with professional motorsports organizations like the Dirt Track Riders Association & Greenfield Dirt Track to events that promote, support & celebrate inspiring women like hosting our live VC team talks (the most recent of which we collaborated on with Red Bull at their HQ in London). We’ve been very very lucky along the way to have had some incredible support from different individuals & organizations (Babes Ride Out included :) ) who really believed in what we were trying to do which has in turn helped us to make some pretty awesome things happen.
What inspired you to first start VC?
It was just a lack of female friendly spaces in the motorcycle world & access to motorcycles to ladies to learn to ride in a really fun, non pressured way. I don’t think we could have ever expected the traction that it would gain after we started out though.
What are some of your most memorable moments at a VC event or training day?
I think every time we teach a girl to ride its been pretty memorable. The great thing for us has been seeing the ladies we’ve taught to ride going away & starting going on their own road trips, starting to race or forming their own riding groups together with others as we always wanted for VC to act as a catalyst & not be your stereotypical idea of a motorcycle club. We dont have members or anything just a massive network of all these ladies doing the most incredible things all over the place and then coming back together once a year to ride, skate, party & hangout together at CAMP VC each year.
Tell us about Camp VC? What inspired you to start a campout?
After having the amazing opportunity of co-hosting our first large scale event in collaboration with Babes Ride out here in the UK we wanted to continue after this experience to create an event that was a little different to some of the other amazing womens motorcycle based events in the world & that felt really specific towards where we live, how we ride & all these great friendships we were making ,not only through motorcycles but by trying out new things like skateboarding & climbing & trading lessons with other girls for riding lessons.
We love trying out new disciplines with motorcycling so we wanted to bring lots of different riding experiences to site with professional motorsports athletes teaching classes. This year we’ll have enduro riding with Husqvarna & for the first time we have trails riding school which we’re pretty stoked about.
Also teaching ladies to ride & growing the community here in the UK further is also something thats really important to us so we also wanted to have beginners lessons for women that didn’t already ride to experience riding for the first time. This year we have Greenfield Dirt Track & pro flat track racer Leah Tokelove coming to teach the ladies with support from the lovely Babes Ride Out so they're in for a treat!
Finally we wanted to have some inspiring pro female athletes & adventurers get together onsite to present a live talk & Q& A so that women could listen to their experiences & also ask for advice on how to get started out in everything from planning a trip around the world on a motorcycle to how to start out in flat track racing so VC Team Talks was born. We’ve also got a skateboarding ramp with beginners lessons & demos from quad skaters, bouldering wall, wellness area, yoga classes, off road & road ride outs & to finish everything off theres a massive party every night!
What are your goals with Camp VC and VC as a whole?
We’d love to keep growing the event year on year & keep introducing different sports & bringing different women’s adventure & extreme sports communities together. This year were adding bouldering & Trials riding to the event so what knows what next year will hold. We’ve already got some pretty exciting things in the pipeline for our 2019 event so stay tuned! :) At the bottom of it all though we’d just love to keep providing a gateway for women to come along & try out something new & have a great time
What are your thoughts on the motorcycle industry and community today?
I still think the motorcycle industry isn't up to speed when speaking about the women’s community. We’re still massively under represented in terms of so much (gear, representation in marketing etc ) & also misrepresented when it comes to alot of stereotypes of how women should be within motorcycles but I’m a big believer that from a complete lack of options will always spring up new & exciting solutions to those problems from people & new grassroots businesses. With more new exciting womens labels, like for instance the amazing Atwlyd & VCC, popping up to more events across the world & opportunities for women to access motorcycles in new ways women are taking the problems into their own hands & solving them from the inside through experience which is awesome to see!
Its a very exciting time to be a female rider in the motorcycle world for sure!