Summer, at last!

Here we go, it’s been over a year since my last post and, frankly, 2020 was a rubbish year for me, both my partner and I got sick, he so much worse than me – he’s still recovering. On top of that and all the lockdown restrictions, we had to move as usual, a normal year that would have meant motorcycle vagabonding for 3 months or so but that wasn’t an option – my partner was too unwell for travelling and hostels weren’t keeping public spaces open so there would be nowhere to cook.  According to the pandemic protection law, tenants couldn’t be forced to move during the pandemic. Our landlord pretended to want to help us by offering us a new contract covering the summer, but also tying us into a more expensive rent for a longer period. Helping us, yeah, right – rather helping himself. We said thanks but no thanks to that shitty offer and with 3 days to spare I found a rental room in Barcelona where we could hunker down for a while. So we did the usual boxing of things and then I loaded up the bike for the move to Barcelona.

I spent my summer studying Halliday’s functional grammar to get some extra university credits and trying to solve our housing situation permanently. Having achieved these objectives, I found a new job and started studying for a masters in Linguistics and was extremely busy. Living in very limiting restrictions made riding for pleasure impossible. The only rides I did last year were for moving houses, commuting for work when working on site was permitted, and riding to charge my already faulty battery. For me, this was very depressing because it had been a year full of plans.

2020 was the year I had great plans. It started off great with the celebrations of WRWR in London (yeah, that feels like a lifetime away). In February, we saw New Model Army in Barcelona, which would have been the first of 3 concerts by our favourite British bands. In addition, we had tickets to 3 other concerts – we’d never had a concert line up that great. I also had 4 motorbike rallies to look forward to, the March Moto Madness organised by Miss Moto Maroc WIMA Morocco, the yearly events with Mujeres en Moto in Spain, and our 70th year anniversary with WIMA in Germany. All of these were cancelled, of course. In addition, I couldn’t go to Sweden to see my dad and my friends and naturally not attend the riding events and training days I had intended to.

Commuting to work

While just about everything I had planned was cancelled, I did achieve quite a few things, some of which were not planned. I solved our housing problem with a long-term solution, and because of this we could finally have our boxes sent over (the boxes from when we left Madrid 7 years ago) and rediscover possessions we had forgotten we had. I got myself some more university points and a new job. I learned how to teach online. I started enjoying running short distances slowly, and I bought a lemon tree. I wrapped up my work internationally for WIMA. It was bittersweet to hand over to Zara, our new international president, I knew I would miss it but I also knew that she had more time and energy than me and would be able to take the organisation forward.

This summer is the first in many years when we’re not packing and moving, and it is such a great relief. I’d never thought I would appreciate having my own permanent home this much as there were certain things of the vagabond style life that I found very appealing too – although I will not miss having to sleep on the floor of my classroom every autumn in search of a flat to rent.  And an extra perk with having my own flat is that I can now have a special motorbike gear station, this is my own biker-tidy solution, built from IKEA’s Ivar shelf system. It is just that the hanger for trousers and jackets that is missing – it was, of course, suddenly discontinued due to the pandemic. Well, you can’t have everything at once. Fortunately, they had some in stock in Sweden so my dad could pick one up for me, so I will be able to complete my shelf system eventually.

Since August last year, my main objectives have been to sleep, eat and work. I was mighty pleased that I could get a new job during the pandemic, then, in January, when restrictions eased off, I was offered a contract with my old company and was suddenly up to my ears in teaching hours. And of course, I was still studying for the Master. End of term was very welcome, I was very braintired.

During summer, I’ll be finishing off my work with the 70th anniversary book for WIMA. A project Sheonagh (former international president of WIMA) and I are collaborating on. This project has grown from booklet to book as there is so much to document in this fantastic organisation, over 40 divisions and nearly 60 rallies for a start. In addition, I’ve just had the privilege to be asked by WIMA Sweden to be responsible for foreign communications and, as I can’t resist the temptation to do extra work, I agreed to do it. It’s a similar set up to WIMA Curaçao and reduces the workload of the national president, who can then dedicate more time at a national level. I think it’s a great way of supporting a growing WIMA and I’m always happy to help – and while things are a bit quieter during summer, there’ll be some quality time with my motorbike, finally!

Winter preservation

If it looks like this when you are doing your winter preservation, you have waited too long 🙂

It was with stiff fingers I screwed out all the screws… 16 or so I believe, and removed the panels to access the battery. Of course, it would have made sense to do this back in September when I permanently parked the bike for winter but, with mum’s funeral and all, I just couldn’t muster the energy. Nevertheless, I had hopes that the battery wasn’t badly damaged but could be recharged.

As much as I like the low weight distribution and the agility that the fuel tank under the saddle gives, I hate the thought of having to do this removal procedure to access the battery for a jump start somewhere in the rain while travelling. Better keep the battery well-maintained then 😉 I was thankful for the practice session I had put in the weekend before, when connecting the cable for the heated waistcoat to the battery of my 2007 GS in Spain, it did cut own the working time considerably. That was done on the street one sunny afternoon, if you really want to know.

Now, the battery is happily bubbling away, awaiting June when I’m next going to take the bike out. I bought myself one of these posh intelligent chargers, I hope it preserves the battery well.

I run, therefore I am

For the last couple of years my running shoes have accompanied me on all my travels and I have done some amazing runs in different countries. At the end of the day, I find it quite nice to lace up my shoes and head out for a run, it loosens up my body and relaxes my mind. This summer I have run in England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Sweden.

Happy finisher of the Penrith Parkrun
Happy finisher of the Penrith Parkrun

One of the highlights of my running season was the Penrith parkrun in north Wales where I, despite some troubles with my right foot, managed to complete on a – for me – average 5k time. Start and finish is inside the castle, very spectacular and the people were super friendly and slightly excited having a guest on a Swedish registered motorbike 🙂

Towards the finish line/ castle entry
Towards the finish line/castle entry

Following this, I gave my foot some rest and it seemed the problem disappeared so I slowly begun running again. I had no problems with my foot for a couple of weeks and I could run 10k or an hour without problem so I thought it was game on again. Our predicament due to the Brexit means that we are staying longer in the UK than we originally intended and to take advantage of our difficulties I started planning for a new Fundraising Marathon-challenge for my 40th birthday. I signed up for the Beachy Head Marathon, which is a recurring running event for my friends from the Sudbury Court Running Club and I felt that it would be lovely to join paths with them again. Ironically, the same day I signed up, my foot problems suddenly returned and I had to walk back from my run. This time, I blamed the asphalt and put myself on another week of rest and then slowly re-started my training. I had now promised myself to only run on trails and gravel roads – at my parents’ house in Sweden there are many good possibilities for this sort of running and I was enjoying myself immensely running different routes in the forest. Then again, during a fast paced 6k run the pain suddenly returned.  Following some reading up on the internet I prescribed myself with a month of no running, suspecting a stress fracture in a small bone in my foot. Of course, it would have been better to have seen a doctor but I didn’t have enough time left in Sweden to be able to get an appointment so this will have to do for now. Sadly, my foot has not improved as much as I had hoped and even alternative training is complicated. Therefore, today I made the decision to change my application from full marathon to the 10k. This was not an easy decision, I’m a very stubborn person and I always want to follow up all my decisions and reach my goals. However, I feel that persistence is not leading anywhere now and I have to see reason and not push my body further than it can recover. The planning for the fundraising birthday-event is still underway and if I can get fit for a 10k in my current situation it would indeed be a great achievement and I have to be pleased with that. Sometimes it is harder not to run than actually running.

Costal running at the end of a rainy day
Coastal running at the end of a rainy day