The Electric Night Ride in Jaca

It was super exciting to ride up to Jaca for the 5th Electric Night Ride even though it was on my GS. The last two years it had been cancelled due to the pandemic so I think everyone taking part was super excited too. I got a good opportunity to look at the different versions of Zero and the different set-ups too – off road, sport, touring. In total, I think there were 25 bikes and scooters. All bikes but one were Zeros, the odd one out was an Energica and it didn’t look too different from the Zero. It was a bit disappointing not to see anyone with a Johammer, as they look like nothing else I’ve ever seen, and I had hoped to see one for real. There were a handful scooters, all but one were large scooters, one was a small city scooter. Don’t ask me about brands – I never even checked – sorry, complete lack of interest I’m afraid.

The early arrivers' bikes are hooked up and charging while the riders themselves takes shelter in the shade.
The early arrivers’ bikes are hooked up and charging while the riders themselves takes shelter in the shade.
 A variety of bikes and models, maily Zero. The majority are form Spain but there are riders from Belgium, the Netherlands and France too.
A variety of bikes and models, mainly Zero. The majority are from Spain but there are riders from Belgium, the Netherlands and France too.
They are lining up to get ready, the weather is swealthering but just as they set off we feel the first drops of rain.
They are lining up to get ready, the weather is sweltering but just as they set off we feel the first drops of rain.
Group photo, IN FRONT OF the nicely lined up bikes :D Someone did not think this through!
Group photo, IN FRONT OF the nicely lined up bikes 😀 Someone did not think this through!

I had hoped to better organised and be on an electric bike myself to be able to join the event and the ride but, alas, not this time. I still enjoyed watching from the shadows, the shade really – there was a heatwave in Jaca at the time – observing and taking photos.

Electric motorbikes first caught my interest a few years back and when we were able to test ride the Zero in Finland at the WIMA rally in 2019 I was thrilled. They were really rare then, the e-bikes, I didn’t know anyone apart from Trui Hanoulle, aka Electro Girl, who rode one. She’s an electric pioneer who rode a Zero from Belgium to Turkey in the very early days of electric. She was there at the rally on a Zero and as always very happy to discuss electrics with anyone who was interested. Influenced by her story and with a great portion of healthy curiosity, I signed up for a test ride.

How do I turn it on? I asked. It is already on, the instructor replied. Funny that, when you can’t hear the engine and you can’t feel the engine. There is no feedback to tell you that it is on, until you turn the throttle and feel the speed in the pit of your stomach. It took some time for me to get used to the acceleration and ride smoothly but when I got the hang of it I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I loved the silence and the stillness. I could hear other things, the tyres on the road and the birds singing. I knew then that I wanted an electric bike, I just didn’t know when I could get one for practical reasons. I still don’t know when and it is a bit disappointing. I will not be a pioneer. My reasons for hesitating are threefold, the electric bikes on the market now are not suitable for me ergonomically. I need more legroom as I need a rather open knee angle for health reasons. Practicality is another factor, I need longer range for travelling and I wouldn’t want to have to ask people for permission to charge from their home. Lastly, economical. Any e-bike is a big investment, just as buying a new petrol bike would be. However, I’m not exactly in the market for buying any new bike and I’m happy owning an old and reliable bike that is comparatively cheap to insure. Thinking about the economic side of things, it would be interesting seeing a breakdown of costs for owning and running an electric bike. I haven’t seen any insurance comparison for example. With my very good reasons for not splashing out on a new e-bike, I still wonder what the reasons other women have. I couldn’t help notice that at the Electric Night Ride in Jaca, only 4 out of 29 people were female, 1 girl and 3 women. Only one woman was piloting, the rest were pillions. Where are all the female e-pioneers? My agreement with myself is that I’ll ride my GS until the end of its days, then I’ll go electric.

As the years go by

we continue to explore the world together, our next project is trail riding. There are lots of little trails around where we live, this is literally just around the corner. It’s lovely to get out a bit – I know I can’t spend all my time with my nose in my books – although the master’s course takes up a lot of my free time.

I met Christopher at an English language book swap in Madrid and who would have thought back then that one day we’d have our own bookshelf together. He wasn’t a biker then, only politely interested in bikes: and it would take a few years before he got onto the pillion seat; and a few more years still before he got his own license; and now, celebrating 12 years of awesomeness together we got ourselves matching boots.

Who would have thought that I would ever get matching boots with anyone?

It is only January but there is spring in the air and we’ve been out exploring on the bike. In the summer, we hope to ride some new trails together and we’d better start practicing. I’m rubbish at trail riding, but now when we’ve got properly protected ankles I hope to be a bit braver.

What’s your plan for this summer?

Women Riders World Relay

Never could I have anticipated that it would feel this powerful, I had just signed up to join the ride and meet the girls and yet there I was – one of the Guardians carrying the baton from Zaragoza to Andorra. However, symbols are powerful and should not be underestimated. Slowly, woman by woman, this baton had made its way from John O’Groats in northern Scotland, via Ireland, Wales, England, France, northern Spain and Portugal. Hundreds of women before me had held the baton, signed the scroll and passed it on. And this was just the beginning, onwards to the north and then to the east and further east, on to Australia and New Zealand, over to Canada, down through the Americas and finally up through Africa. This week it all ends in Dubai and next week we’ll have the final party in London. I can’t wait to meet all the women I have met through the WRWR, Women Riders World Relay – a game changing idea by Hayley Bell – that the world of women motorcyclists came to embrace and ride for.

My first contact with Hayley was shortly after she put her idea up in a woman’s motorcycling group on Facebook. As the purpose of the WRWR and the aim of WIMA overlapped in large part, I contacted her immediately when I saw the message. I wanted to help in my capacity as international president. Please boil down the essence of WRWR into one paragraph so I can help spread the word, I asked Hayley. “We co-ordinate women motorcycle riders across the world to participate in Women Riders World Relay, bringing fun, experience, confidence and a sense of unity to women riders globally” was her answer. The overarching goal for WIMA is to promote international friendship through motorcycling, so yeah, there you go, match made!

My own actual riding participation in the relay was small, just one leg, but the experience was great. I met the Spanish Ambassador Eva and the girls in Zaragoza. I had arrived late, riding straight from work, but just in time for the interview with the TV crew broadcasting live on national TV. Our ride to Andorra was a breeze, nice weather and pleasant food and coffee stops, no hardship at all. However, when we arrived in Andorra it was raining and the team from Andorra, Penya Motorista L’Esquirol, had been waiting for quite some time at the border. They were cold and wet but very welcoming. They escorted us into the city where we were welcomed by people in general and the mayor in particular. The high street was closed off and there were photoshoots, meet and greets and then, off to our hotel. Muntza, the Andorran Ambassador, had arranged everything very neatly and we were very well taken care off. At dinner, I learned that the French girls taking over the baton were actually WIMA France members, amusing as I had tried to recruit them to WIMA before finding out. On the other hand they tried to recruit me to the following leg, and I had decided to tag along but a severe headache put a halt to that plan and I had to wave my goodbyes in Andorra de la Vella while they rode on towards Italy.

The WRWR team in Zaragoza
Muntza and Eva
Muntza and Eva
Eva showing us the scroll that is inside the baton
Eva showing us the scroll that is inside the baton
The French WRWR team

Back home, networking continued and now, by contrast, I was contacted by women who wanted to bring their country’s WRWR participants together under the WIMA flag. WIMA Norway was initiated by Emilija and Ann Kathrine did the same for WIMA Luxembourg. In the meantime, the baton was kept moving through northern Europe despite rain and snow. The baton continued on through eastern Europe and into Asia. I kept a close eye on the progress and followed the informative and entertaining daily live videos provided by Colette, the amazing Australian who was determined to follow the relay for as long as she could.

French ripple relay on WIMA Day

Summer came and I arrived in Sweden to spend some time with family between jobs. Simultaneously with the world relay, many countries arranged ripple relays with the purpose of involving all the areas that the baton had not been able to reach. As I had enjoyed being part of the kick off for the French ripple relay on International WIMA Day back in May, I thought that it was a pity that there wasn’t a ripple going in Sweden. Lots of people had shown disappointment that the relay didn’t come to their area or that they were not able to take part on the actual days the relay passed. I thought that there would be enough interest to make a ripple happen, if only someone would kick start it. I was thinking all these things while I baked the traditional midsummer cake for my father and when I put the cake in the oven I thought, why could it not be me? By the time the cake had baked I had made up my mind, I would do it!

The Swedish WRWR Ambassadors, Ina and Berit, had already arranged a reunion ride in Gothenburg on Midsummer Sunday and they let me take advantage of this as the kick off. I had a day to prepare and set up the Facebook page with information about the ripple and about its philanthropy. I had decided that the ripple would raise money for MJ Piki, a female workshop and transport service in Tanzania. I hoped to raise 327 euros, enough to pay for the full driver’s license training, paperwork and test of another woman rider.

The kick off went overwhelmingly well and people were very positive. Slowly the flag, together with a guestbook and a roadmaster t-shirt, made its way up north, all the way to Trerikesröset, where Norway, Sweden and Finland meet. One of the riders, Margareta, hiked 20 kilometres to make it to the actual point. In Stockholm, 1500km to the south, Susanne organised a ride within the very heart of Stockholm, at 5am, when the city was still asleep! The flag was then taken over to Gotland for a ride and some iconic photos by the mediaeval city wall of Visby. It then continued further down to Skåne, before finishing at WIMA Sweden’s autumn meet near Gothenburg, covering a shade over 5000km over 23 riding days with around 90 participants in total. There, Ina took the flag on a final tour on frosty roads before sending it off to Hayley. The roadmaster t-shirt and the guestbook have now been auctioned and in total we have raised about 750 euros for MJ Piki. As this is a lot more than the initial goal, we can contribute to the general running of their workshop.

The MJ Piki riders

Of all the things I set out to do last year, I must say that the ripple relay is what I am most proud of. For the ripple, just as for the relay, my riding contribution was small, but my main work was behind the scenes, networking and connecting people. The WRWR has been a very intensive experience where I have communicated with so many women, literally from all over the world, and I look forward immensely to seeing some of them in London on Valentine’s weekend, when we celebrate our achievement and of course Hayley – the woman who was brave enough to dream big.

Versya, Hayley and myself at the International WIMA rally in Derbyshire