Global Friendship

We don’t have one language in common, instead we speak three languages in between the three of us, Japanese, English and Spanish, as we take shelter in a local Spanish restaurant in Gracia. I had wanted to show my international friends the area in Barcelona where I used to live, before moving to Calafell. My plan for this evening included our normally pleasant weather – not a steady downpour. But the food is excellent and the company better still, despite some occasional confusion when we speak the wrong language to the wrong recipient. The bartender is amused by our group and absolutely thrilled when he learns that Selma is originally from Argentina and they even have a common home town. He brings us strawberry gazpacho to celebrate this. Selma orders Argentinian meat, Sono is excited by the idea of Spanish tapas and we share three little plates followed by three rather large cakes for desert. It’s been a busy week for them, when you come from Japan to spend a week in Catalunya then you must make the most of it. They have been riding in the Pyrenees together with Sue from WIMA GB and, in addition, managed to see some of what Barcelona has to offer in the culture department: Gaudi’s architecture and Picasso’s art. To complete the list, we managed some shopping for Spanish goods before dinner.

Dinner in three languages. photo Courtesy Selma Rosa Perez
Dinner in three languages. Photo Courtesy Selma Roza Peres

On my behalf, it’s been a couple of eventful weeks, moving houses, starting a new teaching position and in the midst of it all my WIMA friends from England and Japan basically arrived on my doorstep. Sue had rented a house up in the Pyrenees and I joined her for some amazing riding. We were lucky to be recommended a brilliant route by fellow bikers. It was 200 kilometres filled with twists and turns, it kept us busy until evening in fact, with various coffee and photo stops along the route. We started off in Col de Nargo and headed to Berga along route L-401, in the morning the road was quiet, but we soon met lots and lots of bikers, it was evident that the road was popular and we could see groups of bikers on different viewpoints along the route, as well as bikes passing us when we stopped for photos. Our return route took us up north approx. 20k and then back through the villages Saldes, Gosol, Tuixent and Sorribes. This road was not accepted by my GPS, possibly because some of the roads were tiny – my TomTom app does that sometimes, it overrules my choice of road. A small part of the route was on gravel, which reminded me that my bike isn’t suitable for gravel and I had better stay off it. Well, there are smooth gravel roads like the one to my parents’ house in Sweden (which is a piece of cake to ride), and this looked like that to begin with, but soon got loose and my road tyres were sliding. Arriving on tarmac made me both praise civilisation and wish I had a smaller, lighter bike with offroad tyres so I could do it all again. I can definitely see myself on a smaller bike in the future.

Sue and I in the Pyrinees. Photo Courtesy Sue Barnes
Sue and I in the Pyrinees. Photo Courtesy Sue Barnes

After the weekend, while I had to return to work, Sue was expecting our Japanese friends for a few days riding. However, our planned ride out to meet them as part of my return had to be drastically changed due to some very expected events. While lifting my very sleepy head to check the time early Monday morning (public holiday here so I wasn’t going to go to work anyway) I found out that it was 4:30am. I also found out that Sono had ended up on Mallorca instead of Barcelona and that Selma, who had arrived in Barcelona on a different flight, had been pickpocketed and lost all her money. They were on a tight schedule, since Japanese people hardly ever get more than a week off work consecutively, and their hire bikes were waiting for them. The decision was easy, I would await sunrise and head down from the mountains and try to help. I’m spoiled, being used to a completely different work culture. I would personally never even consider flying to another continent during a week’s holiday, but they must make do. I absolutely admire their ability to make the most of it and I would do whatever I could to make things easier for them.
So, I met with Selma and we tried to locate the rental place. Firstly, I feared that the place didn’t exist and that their booking offer was fraudulent. Luckily, it turned out that the company had not announced that they had moved place and changed phone number and we did track them down in the end. When we finally arrived, and explained Sono’s predicament, the owner kindly offered to keep the place open until 4pm. I had already offered Sono to take my bike up to the Pyrenees if she wouldn’t make it, but since her booking couldn’t be cancelled we were still hoping she would be able to make it – and she did – literally in the last minute her taxi arrived. I was very happy to contribute to making their arrival in Barcelona a little less stressful and be able to escort them out of Barcelona and on their way up to the Pyrenees, no doubt they were tired after their long flight to Europe and their respective mishaps, and I wanted them to have a smooth start to their riding at least.

While they enjoyed the mountains, I returned to work. We had scheduled to meet up again on Friday, Sono’s last day in Europe and in the restaurant in Gracia we closed the circle. Selma’s flight was a couple of days later so we made plans for the weekend – we learned that we both have a passion for books so we spent Saturday morning in bookshops. I was amazed to learn that she was named after a Swedish author, Selma Lagerlöf and I secretly sought out a Spanish edition of one of her books as a present. Selma, the author, is native to my region in Sweden and her house Mårbacka is now an impressive museum and celebration of the author’s life. She was also the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Not a bad character to be named after, I must say!

Dream dinner by the sea, Barcelona harbour. Photo Courtesy Selma Rosa Perez
Dream dinner by the sea, Barcelona harbour. Photo Courtesy Selma Rosa Perez

Since Selma had dreamed about having dinner next to the sea, we had to make this happen for Saturday night, and then we did the same for Sunday lunch but here in Calafell. I was happy to welcome her as my fist visitor to my village and we were both quite surprised as we stumbled upon a local charity ride in support of children with Dravet Syndrome here in Calafell harbour, “Rolling for Kids”, it was called. We had an interesting chat with the organisers and showed our support before continuing our Sunday stroll along the beach, our feet in the water and the sun in our faces. We shared a typical Spanish three course Sunday lunch before Selma had to return to Barcelona.
Supporting local charity ride "Rodando por los niños"" in Calafell by buying their cool T-shirt. Photo Courtesy Selma Rosa
Supporting local charity ride “Rodando por los niños”” in Calafell by buying their cool T-shirt. Photo Courtesy Selma Rosa

Later the same day, while reflecting on the recent events during my evening tea on my balcony, I felt a sincere happiness to be part of WIMA. There are a lot of barriers and discord in the world, that is for sure, but I’ve had the time of my life together with people I wouldn’t have met without WIMA – considering the four of us come from four different countries and three different continents – to me this is amazing networking and great WIMA spirit.

WIMA Rally Estonia

The activities were endless and the week passed very quickly: Live band and dancing every night, yummy food and tasty drinks, treasure hunt and visits to manor houses, bog walk and swamp water tastings, parade with 200 motorbikes, castle visit and medieval culture, fundraising in aid of women less fortunate, camping and crispy cold nights… and most important of all, meeting old friends and making new ones. This is what I love the most about WIMA rallies.

This year, for the first time, I had to fly in to a European rally. Sadly, my bike had to be stored away in Barcelona and I got on a flight and flew the 3300 kilometres to Tallinn. This might not be common knowledge, but the vacation periods differ vastly in Europe and in Spain the holiday period is August, so when I return home my official holiday begins and I’ll be heading up into the Pyrenees for riding and camping, taking advantage of the lovely mountains we have so close to home. But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the moment, I’m still in Sweden visiting my parents, my sister and her baby, relaxing with friends and savouring the good memories from the WIMA rally. Since I was working until the Saturday before the rally, I had the pleasure of getting home from work every evening checking Facebook, following others’ journeys and reading about good fortunes and motorbike breakdowns. I could see how friends from all over the world slowly made their way towards Estonia. I could see what weather they had and where they were staying for the night. Likewise, now after the rally, I can follow my friends, en route back home, with pleasant detours to make the most of the journey and finding enjoyable roads to ride and places to see while I spend time with my parents, who I haven’t seen in a year.

Everyone makes their own memories, here are some of mine:

The venue had a large field for camping and I was happy to use it, there was a hotel for those who sleep better in a bed. The night were insanely could though - coming from a temperature above 30 it was quite a shock for me. Luckily, I was saved by friends who lent me a blanket and thermals. I always sleep best when my nose is cold, but I want to keep my body warm.
The venue had a large field for camping and I was happy to use it, there was a hotel for those who sleep better in a bed. The nights were insanely could though – coming from a temperature above 30 it was quite a shock for me. Luckily, I was saved by friends who lent me a blanket and thermals. I always sleep best when my nose is cold, but I want to keep my body warm.
Svata Vatra - one of the amazing live bands we danced to. I even got their CD. i love bands who use lots of strange instrument, if they can do it in a rock style even better.
Svata Vatra – one of the amazing live bands we danced to. I even got their CD. I love bands who use lots of strange instruments – if they can do it in a rock style, even better.
Liv and Val - my team for the treasure hunt. We had an excellent day trying to be clever and resisting the temptation of googleling the questions. The countryside in the north west of Estonia is beautiful, and as you can see - the weather was windy :)
Liv and Val – my team for the treasure hunt. We had an excellent day trying to be clever and resisting the temptation of googling the questions. The countryside in the north west of Estonia is beautiful, and as you can see – the weather was windy 🙂
A beautiful place to stop for a coffe. Some come and some leave, there was constant movement along the treasure hunt route. Here is Syl on her way just as we arrive.
A beautiful place to stop for a coffee. Some come and some leave, there was constant movement along the treasure hunt route. Here is Syl on her way just as we arrive.
How many suitcases are there? I counted them 4 times and got a different number each time. The suitcases symbolises the amount of luggage the emmigraters had with them.
How many suitcases are there? I counted them 4 times and got a different number each time. The suitcases symbolise the amount of luggage the emigrants had with them.
Estonia is famous for its manor houses, we saw a few of them and I must admit that they are impressive and the gardens are fantastic. Worth mentioning is that you can stay in this manor house, there are ensuites as well as dorm beds and the price is not bad for what you get. In comparison, it is about the same as a hostel in central london but I belive the ambiance is a lot grander.
Estonia is famous for its manor houses, we saw a few of them and I must admit that they are impressive and the gardens are fantastic. I enjoyed walking around the grounds trying to find the facts required for the treasure hunt. Worth mentioning is that you can stay in this manor house – there are ensuites as well as dorm beds and the price is not bad for what you get. In comparison, it is about the same as a hostel in central London but I believe the ambience is a lot grander.
Again, impressive grounds and here we were invited to view the rooms as well. I enjoyed walking around the grounds trying to find the facts required for the treasure hunt.
Again, impressive grounds and here we were invited to view the rooms as well. I enjoyed walking around the grounds trying to find the facts required for the treasure hunt.
A seminar on traffic culture in different countries was offered and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is Keiko, national president of WIMA Japan, talking about Japanese trafic culture, prejudice against motorcyclists and potential road sign confusion.
A seminar on traffic culture in different countries was offered and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is Keiko, national president of WIMA Japan, talking about Japanese trafic culture, prejudice against motorcyclists and potential road sign confusion.
Bog walk - here you needed to be light on your foot and only step where the guide allowed us to, or we could disapear into the bog. An amazing nature experience. The water was clean and purifying, we could swim if we wanted, too cold for me although some were brave enough to dip in. I settled for a drink from the water and a splash on my face.
Bog walk – here you needed to be light on your foot and only step where the guide allowed us to, or we could disapear into the bog. An amazing nature experience. The water was clean and purifying, we could swim if we wanted, too cold for me although some were brave enough to dip in. I settled for a drink from the water and a splash on my face.
The parade is my favourite activity during a WIMA rally. Here is Margaret from Australia flying her ossie flag.
The parade is my favourite activity during a WIMA rally. Here is Margaret from Australia flying her Aussie flag.
The Swedes are dressed uniformly with pink WIMA Sweden vests for this occation.
The Swedes are dressed uniformly with pink WIMA Sweden vests for this occasion.
Chris from WIMA Austria volunteered to fly the banner during the parade, here with Maura, national president of WIMA Poland and my good friend Fokje from the Netherlands. We all come together under the WIMA banner :)
Chris from WIMA Austria volunteered to fly the banner during the parade, here with Maura, national president of WIMA Poland and my good friend Fokje from the Netherlands. We all come together under the WIMA banner 🙂
The week passed so quickly and too soon it was all over. Then we missed each other so much so we got to gether for an after party :) Thank you Kaialiisa for inviting me!
The week passed so quickly and too soon it was all over. Then we missed each other so much so we got together for an after party 🙂 Thank you Kaialiisa for inviting me!

This was the Estonian WIMA rally represented in pictures, I wish I had more photos to share with you, as always, the photos don’t do the event justice.

Below, I’ll share some links where WIMA and WIMA members been interviewed by the media:

From the pre-rally which I sadly missed. Pat and Sheonagh from WIMA GB were interviewd by the local newspaper in Pärnu. 
From the pre-rally which I sadly missed. Pat and Sheonagh from WIMA GB were interviewed by the local newspaper in Pärnu.

On the local TV channel TV3: WIMA Rally parade and visit to the Rakvere castle. Contains interviews with Keiko, the national president of WIMA Japan, Elsbeth member of WIMA Switzerland, Liv, member of WIMA Australia and Anneli, national president of WIMA Estonia. It starts with an advert, then scroll forward to minutes 21.20 – 24.54 for the relevant section of the programme.

Photos from the parade in the local online newspaper Virumaa Terataja.

Interview with Sheonagh from WIMA GB in Virumaa Terataja.

Before the parade, a little jig. Kindly posted on YouTube by Veronica Vefur.

Coverage of the parade with some great footage in the local car magazine Accelerista. (Thanks to Gerli, WIMA Estonia, for sending me this link and the following!)

YouTube video by Hannes Arus, showing the entire group when arriving in Rakvere finishing the parade.

And the media attention doesn’t end here, members of WIMA Curacao were interviewed at the Jögevatreff, Estonia’s largest bikemeet which took place the weekend after our WIMA rally.

Lastly, I am proud to announce that I have been elected international president of WIMA. I look forward to working further with female riders worldwide and strengthening our sisterhood. Perhaps less time for the blog, but more time connecting with women motorcyclists.

Thank you Carola, president of WIMA Sweden for this photo!
Thank you Carola, president of WIMA Sweden for this photo!

Next year, our international rally will be held in Finland and I look forward to travelling there and meeting my friends again. But WIMA is more than a one week rally once a year – it is an endless possibility of networking, building international friendship and connecting with female riders all over the world.

Updated with new links to different media coverage, you’re welcome to contact me if you know of anything else I could add and share with our WIMA community.

Happy New Running Year

This autumn has been a bit slow on the running side. After my 40th birthday-charity run for Pikilily I’ve struggled to maintain consistency in running, nothing left to motivate me and often short runs seems useless to me. I long for the long runs but at the same time I don’t want to put too much pressure on my foot and risk breaking up the stress fracture, again. Being injured is just plain -boooring – and I needed to find a remedy, not only for my foot but also for my mind. I needed to mix and mingle with runners again so I made myself an excuse to go to London and run with lovely Sudbury Court RC, a burst around the streets of Wembley paired with a post-run drink at the club house gave me an opportunity to catch up with friends and get an update of who is running what this spring. This, in turn, motivated me to look for some races for myself, and since the silly season was coming up – Chase the Pudding Santa Race on Weymouth beach was a strong candidate, it doesn’t get sillier than that. 300 Santas chasing a pudding along the beach 🙂 I recommend it!

Super happy to have been able to inspire Sheonagh to join me for Chase the Pudding santa race on Weymouth beach. Photo courtesy Frances Underwood
Super happy to have been able to inspire Sheonagh to join me for Chase the Pudding Santa race on Weymouth beach. Photo courtesy Frances Underwood

As I was going to Brighton for Christmas, I fancied doing a Christmas Eve parkrun as well. Running on this particular day is a family tradition that dad and I cherish and although we ran in different parts of Europe running is still something that connects us. Another parkrun was accomplished on New Year’s Eve, this time on the Hove Promenade. In addition, if I’m being really good, I might treat myself to a New Year’s Day parkrun as well, in which case I can tick off Hove park.

Preston parkrun on Christmas Eve, Julia sports her Vegan Runners club vest while I go all out in a Santa suit. Support by Gerogina and Sue.
Preston parkrun on Christmas Eve, Julia sports her Vegan Runners club vest while I go all out in a Santa suit. Support by Georgina and Sue.

As the new year begins and our plans for our future become clearer, with ferry booked to Spain and job applications sent off to schools and academies, I look forward to more running in the sun. Hopefully, I’ll be fit for a half-marathon soon, aiming for the Barcelona half in February. I’m slowly lengthening my distances now, trying not to overdo it, starting with a 10k along the Brighton seafront. I’m very much back to square one, like 3 years ago, when I trained for my first half marathon and just wanted to be able to complete it. It doesn’t matter, time is an illusion, as long as I can run, I’ll be happy!

What are your plans and your new targets? – please share your thought with me!