I’ve been busy

In fact, too busy. As a full time teacher, co-editor of WIMA’s anniversary book, WIMA Sweden board member, MA student and a lingustics researcher, riding has been something that other people did, but I had no time for.

However, it is time to listen to the master, Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by”. (Quote from The Salmon of Doubt”).

I shall now spend more time taking baths and drinking tea – preferably on the beach (although to my knowledge he drank his tea at home).

Also, we’ve instated the rule of weekend rides 😀 So we’re now exploring a new place in the Penedes region every weekend, this weekend was Santa Oliva, a village only 20 minutes ride from our house:

We have a very old GoPro camera which we use sometimes, and for this trip Christopher was wearing it. I love riding through little towns and villages, the houses are so cute and and the streets so narrow and winding. This was during the siesta time so there was virtually no-one out.


It was a windy day, as you can see on the flag. Christopher was nearly blown off the road on his little bike and I had to wrangle against some heavy gusts as well.

The Catalan text next to the drinking fountain says: the fountain, brings water – like a river of tears from the mountains far away to the foot of the castle – for me and for you and for the foreigner. What a beautiful message!

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.

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!