Victoria Dorozhko

Today’s rider is Victoria Dorozhko from Sochi, Russia. She has some near magical stories to tell about growing up wanting to ride motorcycles, from her father taking her fishing in a sidecar when she was little, to tracking down and finding the only other female rider in her area so that she could learn from her. In certain circles she is also known as Banzai, ostensibly for her speed and recklessness when out riding. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor, Global Women Who Ride]

Women Who Ride: Victoria Dorozhko with her motorcycle in Sochi, Russia

Name: Victoria Dorozhko (Banzai)
Age: 27
Country: Russian Federation, Moscow
Languages: Russian, English
Years Riding: 5
Height: 160сm
Current Motorcycles: BMW 650 CS
Past Motorcycles: Yamaha YBR 125, Honda VT250, Honda Steed 400, Honda Bros 400, Kawasaki ZR7
Gear: Probiker Helmet, Street Fighter Gloves, Lookwell Jacket

Please introduce yourself. I was born in a small town in Russia in the Rostov region. I now live in Moscow. I am an artist and designer. In general, I’m a creative and absolutely irrational person.

Love for motorcycles is in my blood. My mom recently found a very old yellow-tinted photo of mine taken by a Soviet camera. It’s a real piece of the past. The camera caught a most magical moment of my childhood. I’m sitting on my father’s Jawa at an airfield and apparently, saying -“Wrrrrrrrrrr.”. You know, nothing is more real than children creating their own world.

Women Who Ride: Victoria Dorozhko as a child, sitting on a Jawa motorcycle

Tell us a story from the past. My father had an old Soviet motorcycle with a sidecar. I enjoyed sitting in the sidecar with my face out in the wind. One day my father and I went to catch crayfish in the river. There were no roads and we had to go over some rugged terrain. I remember going over rocks and through ravines, and there was a lot of shaking. I felt like the bumping and shaking would never end. But I strongly wanted to catch crabs, plus I liked sitting in the sidecar, so I ignored it. When we reached the destination my father started pulling out all sorts of devices for fishing. I wobbled around and watched sunbeam reflections playing on the dusty surface of the motorcycle.

Then we caught some crabs: dad did it well. I was fooling around and putting my face into the water. My actions weren’t helping much with the catch, but I was so enthralled by the creatures in the river that I fell in. I dived and saw the slimy river bed when my father caught my leg just in time. In the end my father got a few crayfish and I got mud on my face. On the way back I was a little upset about how our adventure ended. All these years later though, I thought that the bike was really cool and that the helmet looked pretty good on me.

Every journey is an adventure, and after each of them are born stories that are told in the kitchen with a cup of coffee.

Tell us about your journey into the world of motorcycling. It began with my father’s motorcycle and then came into full force after university. After graduation from university in Moscow, I decided to go live by the sea. I packed up and went to Sochi. Here began my way as a motorcyclist.

I wanted a bike for a long time, and in this seaside town where it was summer almost all year round, it’s just a sin to ride in stuffy cars. I started looking more and more into two-wheeled vehicles.

Once while going to lunch, I saw a beautiful red sports bike. I had to somehow establish contact with the owner and I stuck a note on the bumper. I received a call from a young man who gave me the phone number of the girl who rode a bike. At that time there were only two in the city. After a conversation with that girl – Vera – I was inspired.

The first thing I did was to change jobs. Want to learn something about motorcycles? Go work in a motorcycle shop. Yamaha became my refuge.I learned so much about oils and fluids. I got a loan and bought a Yamaha EBR 125. A few hours a day, I practiced basic riding skills in front of the shop. I eventually got my license.

My first two riding seasons were unbelievable. I was a scorcher. Not in terms of speed, in the way I rode. I was reckless and risky. A mixture of courage, inexperience and ignorance. During this time, people started to call me Banzai.

Women Who Ride: Victoria Dorozhko in Sochi, Russia

Women Who Ride: Victoria Dorozhko riding a Honda

Victoria Dorozhko riding a Honda

I’m on my sixth motorcycle now. I really love my BMW. And for me there is no greater joy than to create beautiful things and discover new worlds with my faithful friend.

Women Who Ride: Victoria Dorozhko on a motorcycle road trip

Victoria Dorozhko on a motorcycle road trip


Women Who Ride: Victoria Dorozhko stopped on the road, smoking a cigarette

Victoria Dorozhko stopped on the road

If I were to visit you and we went riding for one morning, where would you take me? In the morning we will not be able to drive easily within Moscow. Therefore it is better to leave this action for the night, and ride and see how Moscow shines its lights.

What’s the best part about riding in Russia? Russia is a country of contrasts – we have mountains, steppes, deserts, and impassable places in the eastern part of the country, and serpentine roads on the south coast. There are a lot of bad roads. It is not as extreme as in Kazakhstan and India, but still a challenge.

For people looking for an adventure, they can make a trip in the winter on a motorcycle with a sidecar, to understand why our country cannot be conquered in that weather. After the snow melts, they can get an enduro and ride towards Vladivostok, drowning in mud, where each kilometer will be extremely difficult. Your choice!

What are the best months for riding there? Since Russia extends across many climates and time zones, each region has its own best months for riding. In Moscow it’s May-October, in Sochi almost all year round, in the north, only during the summer.

Are there any motorcycle specific laws? There are several provisions in the road rules concerning only motorcycles, but no special restrictions for motorcycles.

Is it safe to ride at night? At night you can drive relatively safely. Street lighting in Moscow is just fine. The only problem is that since streets aren’t that busy then, some people speed and you have to try to avoid them.

Are motorcyclists discriminated against in any way? Discrimination of the motorcyclists at the state level in Russia doesn’t exist formally. But many of the car drivers don’t love us. If you are really naughty on the road, you will have a problem with the “moto battalion”, which is a special department of traffic police on motorcycles, all of whom are good riders.

How popular are motorcycle related sports and do women actively participate in them? The most popular motosports in our country are motocross and road racing. The percentage of girls in these sports is not very high but there are a few very gifted and famous ladies.Also girls have engaged in stunt riding to be able to be stunt women in movies.

What is the traffic like and how does it affect motorcycle riding? Traffic gets more and more dense every year. during the past two years, Moscow was uncomfortable to ride in even on a motorcycle for me. A motorbike was built to ride and not for going 5 kmph.

On a bike you can get to work much faster by squeezing between rows of cars as long as drivers see you and don’t make any sudden moves. The longer the cars sit in traffic, the higher their growing hatred for motorcyclists. It ends with serious conflicts sometimes.

Is motorcycle theft a problem? Motorcycle theft is a real problem. The bigger the city, the more the problems. You need to use paid parking and garages.

Do you have access to high quality motorcycling gear in your part of the world? Most brands in Russia is represented well. The price tag, of course, is a different question.

How are women riders treated in your part of the world? Despite the fact that every year the lady riders are becoming more common, we are still in the minority and therefore still strange creatures. favicon
Major thanks to Ilya Butenko for this assistance in translating parts of Victoria’s interview from Russian to English.