18 September 2019
...horseback to Road Captain in just four years and in the process has made a mark, both on her bike and in her community.
Her passion for horses began when she was growing up in Hong Kong, with her English dad and Chinese mum, and continued when she moved to the UK at the age of 18 to study psychology and neuroscience at the University of Nottingham. At the same time, she was taking her first steps on the road to becoming a Harley® rider through her husband, Matt, who owned a Dyna®.
A new beginning
Vicki’s life changed dramatically in 2014 when her horse had to be put down. Her father-in-law, who had a small collection of motorcycles, saw Vicki’s sadness and stepped in. She says: “He said ‘If you ever decide to get your licence, I’ll gift you this Honda’. It was practically the same age as me, but I thought why not?”
Though Vicki had enjoyed riding pillion with Matt for five years, she had never considered having her own bike. But gaining her licence was therapeutic, and she found her horse riding skills gave her an advantage. Vicki says: “I had no fear, as I saw riding from the perspective of a horse rider – a motorcycle’s movements are more predictable than those of a horse, after all.”
By September 2014, Vicki was one week away from taking her final test when Matt asked if she wanted to have a look around their local dealership. She recalls: “There was a gorgeous Sportster® XR1200 with custom paintwork sitting in the showroom. I rushed over, only to have Matt point out that the bike had a huge ‘Sorry, this bike is sold’ sign hanging from its handlebars – I was gutted!”
When Matt dropped her back at home, he said he had to pick something up from his office. Soon after, Vicki heard a roar and saw the XR1200 approaching.
She says: “I didn’t recognise the helmet of the rider, but then it pulled on to our driveway. Off came the helmet and it was Matt. I rushed outside, completely confused. But he said ‘Do you remember how the salesman said a guy came in earlier and bought the XR for his wife? Well – that guy was me!’ I burst into tears.”
Taking the lead
Although the start of Vicki’s Harley love affair sounds worthy of a light-hearted rom-com, the journey forward has involved taking a very practical, hands-on role in the couple’s local Sherwood Chapter, a group she describes as “awesome”.
Vicki says: “After the first year I decided I wanted to join the committee. If I am into something and have ideas, I won’t sit and moan, I’ll get stuck in. So I became Activities Officer.”
As part of that, Vicki wanted to offer women in her community the opportunity to get on their first Harley. She says: “I did a Ladies’ Day, where I asked any female friend or relative if they’d like a go at learning to ride. I hooked up with one of our local riding schools, which put it on for free.”
It wasn’t long before Vicki took on the responsibilities of a guiding role in the chapter’s travel expeditions. She says: “Matt and I became Road Captains, and currently I’m our chapter’s only female Road Captain.”
Alongside her involvement in H.O.G.® community activities, Vicki is equally hands-on when it comes to customising her own motorcycles. She says: “I like to get pretty technical and I like to customise them. I like people to know mine’s not off the shelf.”
Her XR1200 was her first project: “I wasn’t getting deep into the mechanical customisation, so the dealership did the first stage for me. It was a way of learning about my bike, as I knew I wasn’t mechanically minded enough to rip my engine out and do it myself.”
Vicki was soon tempted by the lure of a larger engine, so she decided to buy herself a CVO™ Softail® convertible – this, in turn, was soon upgraded to a 2018 Road Glide® Special, with a custom Hard Candy paint job and mini-apehanger handlebars.
But how did Vicki cope with the increased size and power of the Touring bike? “I never thought I'd be able to handle it, but I was pleasantly surprised,” Vicki enthuses. “Although it is a big bike, it doesn't ride like that at all. It's nimble and responsive, and it handles the twisty country roads just as easily as it handles serious motorway mileage – and it’s great having my sat nav built in and my music blasting out loud. It has opened up so many possibilities for long-distance touring across the UK and Europe, but also has totally transformed my confidence as a rider.”
Vicki’s message is clear: “For me, Harley is more than the bikes. We’re so passionate about the whole lifestyle, and I’d love it to be something that more people know about.”
Feeling inspired by Vicki’s story? Find out more about the many benefits of joining the world’s greatest motorcycle owners group at h-d.com/hog