Bringing together empowerment and inclusivity to the motorcycle community. We caught up with co-founder Gemma Harrison…
Where did VC London begin and how has it grown?
We met in 2014 after Namin Cho and I worked together in fashion. We then met Maite Storni at a motorcycle event and taught her to ride. It’s grown organically over the last four years; from a few friends riding and wrenching together in a back-street garage to large-scale events, meet-ups, classes and workshops.
You have a huge Instagram following – how have you utilised technology and social media to grow the collective?
It was kind of accidental! We started an Instagram account to reach out to other women, asking if they wanted to ride and we were inundated with messages. We’ve given over 400 women their first go on a motorcycle as part of our free lessons and we’ve used technology to cultivate a community and translate social media into real-life experiences and events.
Have you faced any adversity or prejudice as an all-women group?
We’ve actually come across very few instances of prejudice towards what we do. The motorcycle community is great to be involved in, no matter whether that’s with custom bikes, dirt biking or racing.
Are there any biker stereotypes that you’re keen to dispel?
Motorcycles can be for anyone. A lot of women get in touch thinking that they’re too short or too small to be able to ride. This isn’t the case – there’s a bike out there for everyone – you’ve just got to find it.
Tell us about your first biking experiences…
Oh, horrible! I was a latecomer to motorcycles (I started to ride aged 26) and I learned with my husband in a supermarket car park. I had a really hard time getting to grips with it but four years later I’ve ridden all over the world, own more motorcycles than I probably should, and have ridden and raced with some of my heroes.
How do you encourage women to try activities that are conventionally male-dominated?
I think women have a rapidly changing attitude to a lot of activities, careers and worlds. Visibility and accessibility are the key to addressing the lack of women represented in any space. Creating more opportunities for women to start out in something they’ve always wanted to do and for them to see others doing it means that it becomes the norm.
Buying a motorbike is a huge investment – are there ways to make riding accessible to those from all backgrounds?
I won’t lie, motorcycles aren’t cheap! Learning on a small bike and getting your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) is a great way to start out without costing you crazy amounts of money. There are lots of reasonably-priced, small, old bikes and they’re also a great way to learn about mechanics as they are pretty simple.
Tell us more about the camps and workshops you run.
Our main event is Camp VC, which is a three-day women-only festival in the Brecon Beacons. Women come to learn to ride, go dirt biking and try climbing and skateboarding. They also listen to talks from inspiring female athletes and adventurers, and party! This year it’s running from 31st July – 2nd August. We also do free live VC Team Talks where we speak to incredible women with extraordinary stories. Past speakers include pioneering Moto adventurer Elspeth Beard.
What are the core principles of the collective?
Get out there and do what you’ve always wanted to do! Get dirty, mess your hair up, fall off stuff and do it with a massive smile on your face.
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