Bad Ass Bitches

So this blog is mildly off topic in many ways but in other ways its totally on point. Nothing about boats though, just a whole lot of bad ass women doing bad ass things.

 

Mindlessly perusing facebook one afternoon I found this group of girls from east London who run a motorcycle group called VCC. I had a scroll though all the photos and thought “koh fuck me these are the coolest girls on the planet”. Then I discovered they run a yearly camp in the Brecon Beacons in wales…how could I say no!!!

I booked myself a long weekend off work, a break from the sawdust and an escape from London I couldn’t fucking wait. Mid packing I had a minor little wobble of confidence thinking, these girls all have the “cool” clothes, the perfect figures and the most expensive helmets I’ve ever seen and here I am rummaging through my moth eaten wardrobe with a slightly fusty boat smell thinking “what the fuck am I doing, they’re gunna take one look at my grubby little self in my ten year old jeans and think what fucking hole did that crawl out of”. But I gave myself a good talking to over a gin n tonic and soon snapped out of it.

 

The next day I set off on my little Chinese 125cc, fully loaded she looked like a very mis treated beach donkey. With a 180 miles of unseen roads ahead of me I couldn’t wait to set off! I’d sold my boat 3 days before so I had to make a stop off in Oxford to buy a new boat so I’d have somewhere to live when I got back. Next stop was Ross on Wye to meet Sue who I’d met through Facebook and was also riding up on her own. For all the discerning middle aged people who are forever slating us young’uns for spending all our time on social media, this trip is a fantastic example of just how amazing Facebook is for bringing people together.

When we arrived at the end of a long dirt track at a sheep field on top of a hill, it was all confirmed, this was going to be one of the best decisions I’d ever made. The view was killer, the bikes were narly and the atmosphere couldn’t have been more chilled. We rode in n found a pitch, I stayed around to give Sue a hand setting up (I’d been a bit of a snob n booked myself a bell tent). Within seconds our northern neighbours Jane n Emma came up n gave us a beer. Oh did I forget to mention that the beer is free all weekend?!? Oh yes, really it was. By the end of the evening there was about 8 of us camped together, bonding over bikes, free beer and disco bingo.

 

Now before I say anymore I will point out that I’ve never not enjoyed a normal bike rally but going to an all female one was such a breath of fresh air. For any blokes that are reading…before the thought pops into your head. No it wasn’t a massive field full of naked lesbians parading through sheep shit. It was a field full of kick ass girls with one thing in common.

For me it was so nice not to be a novelty. In my line of work I’m always a bit of a curiosity for the rich, answering the same questions at parties in the grounds of Windsor Castle surrounded by IT technicians and the queens groomsman but at Camp VC know body gave a fuck. It felt as though I’d finally found my tribe, I wasn’t the only girl out there doing something different, know one gave you funny looks or changed the conversation back to the best brand of hair straighteners. Just in our little camp group we had a dry stone waller, a trucker, an orthopaedic surgeon, a care worker, an American security consultant who protects the world from terrorist attacks and piracy (sorry Christie I still don’t know how to describe your job in any better way), a primary school teacher who’d ridden round Europe on a triumph Bonneville, an events manager and of course a boat builder. I mean you just don’t get to meet these people in day to day life, we’re spread so far n wide over the country it can often feel as though you’re the odd one out but I think it gave us all a massive sense of belonging to know that somewhere out there whether it be Scotland or Yorkshire there was other women doing bad ass shit too. When I’d had my little confidence wobble mid packing I’d been worried that everyone there would be young, cool, beautiful and a bit clicky but this wasn’t the case at all. There wasn’t a shred of the usual school girl bitchy ness, everyone was so welcoming, we were all different ages, all had different talents, different levels of riding but we all had two wheels in common.

On the Saturday we were all suffering from the envitable hangover but the Camp VC crew supplied everyone with free ice cold Redbull to get us through. There was loads of classes on offer, dirt bike, enduro riding, you name it they had it. We all went our separate ways for the day and I went on two ride outs with other girls, carving our way through the hills of the Brecon Beckon. It felt like I was in some tropical European country but no it was just little old wales. The second ride out was a faster one, all big bikes and I was a bit worried about being left behind. I kept up all the way round the route though and it was only on the last bit of dual carriage way back to camp that they all sped past me at 130mph plus. Leaving me vibrating my way down the welsh roads hoping to god they’d wait for me at the next turning. I got my head down, tucked my knees in and tried to get my speed up, fully aware I looked like a total knob. The cliché chicken chaser trying to keep up with the big girls. I finally hit 70mph approaching a layby, I saw all the girls there waiting for me. It had taken me a good 30 minutes to get the bike up to speed so I wasn’t gunna stop but the others all filtered in behind me and we soon had our formation back. For me that moment was what Camp VC was all about. It didn’t matter what you rode or how you rode as long as you did and I cannot describe how liberating it felt to ride with everyone and know they’d be there waiting for me.

 

In the evenings as we all sat around chatting about bikes, life, riding with babies, working with men and the imminent threats of piracy it was abundantly clear how different it was to a regular bike rally. Instead of the usual alphabety spaghetti you get when talking bikes with blokes, as they list a string of makes, models, numbers and engine sizes never actually saying a real word, whilst you sit there thinking “oh for fuck sake just tell me what colour it is and how fast it goes”.  We had none of that and none of the ego. If any of us were asked which bike was ours we’d point to it and say “that silver one over there”, instead of discussing completely irrelevant and useless technical information we’d talk about the weight, the cornering, what it was like to ride if you’re 5ft tall. The important stuff.

 

The whole weekend was a breath of fresh air and I’ve learnt so so much. In one of the team talks a lady was saying what a great word Courage is. I’d never thought about it before but she was so right. Courage is something you don’t have to earn, its not something you have to deserve, not something you have to work for, its not given to you by a man but with courage you can do anything you want. You just have to grab it by the balls and own it and I’m going to. I’ve learnt that after being told I cant ride this and I cant ride that because I’m too small, ACTUALLY folks I can ride whatever the fuck I want and I’m going to! I’ve learnt that ya don’t have to feel like the odd one out ALL the time, there are hundreds of us crazy girls out there doing crazy shit. I’ve learnt that I’m actually a darn good rider, I do have a willfull disregard for my own safety but I’m bloody good at it. To top it all off, I’ve got some friends for life and a trip up north in the pipelines.

 

 

I can’t thank the girls that run Camp VC enough! Its shown me so much, been so empowering and opened my eyes to a whole world that’s out there ready to be taken advantage of and all I need is a slightly bigger dose of courage and a harder set of ass cheeks. As I sit here in my greenhouse like boat, surrounded by a mass of smelly unpacked luggage on an arse that has more than felt the 530 miles since Friday all I can think of is planning the next big trip!

10 Replies to “Bad Ass Bitches”

  1. Abbey, this is so beautiful. I’ll feel that every time I will read this it’ll bring back to life that weekend for me. Thank you so much. It was an honour and an absolute pleasure meeting you all.

  2. I am so happy for you to have found your tribe, Abbey! You are, absolutely, a Bad Ass Bitch, of the best possible kind! It is a great privilege to ride along as you continue to discover yourself and the world. Thank you for inviting us into your life.

  3. We all need our people! Fortunately you found your tribe, unfortunately a lot of people never do.
    You go girl, this is life, not a dress rehearsal! Love keeping up on your adventures and discoveries.

  4. Jon-Lee Paul Butler says: Reply

    Christie the American Security Consultant, I’d describe as Superwoman! Protects the world from terrorist attacks, is putting it mildly.
    Funny. I always see you as someone who’d adventure out on the water than burning rubber.
    Glad you’re finding your zone to be in, your comfort bubble, that rock that drives the soul to achieve something.

  5. Great little dit Abbey…will show my Daughters. Love the description of ‘courage’.

  6. In that case I’m going to recommend the Overland Event too https://overlandevent.com/

    Inevitably there will be some blokes talking gibberish about makes, models, numbers and whichever piece of Touratwat equipment makes their enormous BMW look slightly more adventurey as they ride to the nearest coffee shop, and some of them will even ride around standing up on their footpegs. There’ll quite likely be a look of multi-coloured adventure suits too.

    But there’ll also be a whole load of hugely welcoming people of all sexes who just love riding and getting out there and for whom meeting, sharing, spending time with people, and not caring what gear, bike, or incredibly expensive helmet you have.

    And there’s a whole host of incredibly inspiring women travellers from Jacqui Furneaux to Elspeth Beard who quite frankly are far more interesting, inspiring and courageous than all the footpeg standing men in the world.

    And it’s only outside Oxford, so far less distance to ride and our lovely Chinese motorcycle company are letting everyone have a go on their latest lovely Chinese motorcycles too.

    (And no, I don’t get commission on ticket sales)

  7. Hi Abbey, I met your dad in Exeter library last week and he reminded me of happy green woodworking days in the LEEP field long ago. I loved to see your enthusiasm for working with wood and your feel for it then so it made me really happy to hear what you’re making of your life now. It’s been great to read the blogs. Wishing you well, Andrew

    1. Wow what a blast from the past! As a rule I don’t reply to comments on here otherwise I’d never find the time to build boats but this is an exception.
      Just like to say THANKYOU for running the green woodworking all those years ago, it was always the highlight of my week and although I didn’t know it for a long time it sent me on the path to having a job and a career that will always make me happy.
      I hope you keep reading on here and hopefully our paths will cross when I’m visiting Devon, be great to say thanks in person.
      P.s I still have the bowl, the spoon and the stool I made with you all those years ago 😀

      1. Would be lovely to see you, please do email me if you’re coming this way.

  8. Harry waddingham jr says: Reply

    I read your latest blog whilst bringing ‘Nandura’ back from the Traditional boat festival, I was laughing out loud going down the river!! ‘Lesbians covered in sheep shit’ was a particular highlight, very, very funny!! It was great to have a drink with you and your gang on the Friday of the festival and please pass on my thanks to the Dennetts for their help with my mum on the Sunday who got herself a bit ill. The festival was great, great fun!
    You must get yourself to the Malle Mile in 2019, you would love it, it’s Henley for motorbikes!! Keep up the writing Abbey, you have a natural talent for it.
    Harry Waddingham jr.

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