Meet VC London and prepare to be impressed
In the four short years since VC London began, a lot has been accomplished. The brainchild of three women with a passion for motorbikes and riding, the organisation has grown from a small group offering motorbike riding lessons to women in an East London car park to an international network with talks and events that now span the globe. So, how did it all begin?
As is said, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Co-founders Gemma Harrison, Maite Storni and Namin Cho were finding it difficult to connect with other women to ride with so they decided to put the word out on social media to find like-minded riders.
Using an Instagram account to publicise an offer of riding lessons for women, VC London was born. Since that time, it has grown organically, teaching more than 400 women to ride. Motocross, racing and leisure riding are popular and there is no age limit – Gemma’s oldest student was 69 year old mum.
But VC London is much more than motorbike lessons. It’s become a platform for trading skills and helping others by way of events, lessons, talks, camps, brand collaborations, meet ups, and workshops. These can include anything from basic bike maintenance and ‘how to choose the right bike for you’ to building a bike itself. VC also has its own clothing label and merchandise.
At the heart of VC is a desire to inspire anyone and everyone ‘to get out there and do what they’ve always wanted to’, and promote positivity and community in the process.
The incredible women within it are at the forefront, of course, and they are all about giving a platform to and promoting women in extreme sport because, let’s face it, there’s not a lot of that about. And while the VC Camp event is women only, a lot of the events they take part in and promote are not. They are an inclusive organisation – as Gemma says, “We have guys on the team too; it’s not just female-only; it’s definitely a team effort.”
VC is firmly rooted in motorbike culture, but it has grown to include a variety of extreme sports – from skateboarding, dirt biking and flat track to climbing and automotive sport. It provides a gateway to support and encourage anyone – regardless of age or gender – to get into the stuff they’ve always wanted to try. The quote on their website sums up what VC London is about perfectly:
‘Get out there and do what you’ve always wanted to. Ride, skate, surf, climb, drive, build, wrench, race… Do it all, jump in, get involved. And do it with a smile on your face and with your hair messed up because there’s more to life than selfies.’
Indeed there is!
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS
Gemma Harrison is originally from Leeds and has lived in London on and off for over 12 years. After beginning to ride around 8 years ago with her husband, Gemma got into custom motorcycles. After starting out with a small, hand-me-down Yamaha Sr125, she then started to learn about mechanics and building. Gemma then met Namin and Mai in 2014 and soon after they started VC in January 2015 after finding it difficult to find other women to ride with.
Maite Storni is a Graphic designer and owner of the Printing company YAY London. Mai is originally from Venezuela and grew up in France. After growing up around her father who rode motorcycles, Mai never thought she could ride one of her own until she met with Gemma and Namin who taught her to ride. This then gave them the idea to put out a post on a small Instagram offering free intro to motorcycle lessons to any girls who fancied it. They were inundated with messages and have since given lessons to over 400 women.
Namin Cho was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand. Namin and Gemma met whilst working together in luxury fashion as designers.Namin began to learn to ride in 2014 after spending a few years on the back of her then boyfriend’s bike. Soon after, she started to customise her own Honda CG125. Namin now rides a Kawasaki W650 custom bobber built in the UK by RedMax speed shop.