In February 2020, the Women Riders World Relay came to an end in London and, as part of the celebration, Nathan Milward and the Adventure Stage at the MCN Motorcycle Show let WRWR have two hours exclusive use of their stage. This was an amazing opportunity to hear stories and be inspired by fellow WRWR women. Here we re-tell the stories from five of those presenters: Trui, Lara, Guliafshan, Caroline and Tiffany, all members of WIMA.
WIMA BAM Belgium president Trui Hanoulle, aka Elektrogirl, shared her experience as the first ever long-distance traveller on an electric motorbike in Europe. A silent but powerful riding experience between Ghent in Belgium to Istanbul in Turkey, a story that has been published in motorcycle magazines all over Europe. There is a kind of ‘loud pipes save lives’ culture and some bikers might have a hard time accepting a silent engine. However, Trui claims the silence to be one of the best things with an electric motorbike – it doesn’t take away something, it is an added sensation, you can hear the sounds in nature, the horses, the birds and even the tyres on the road. One of the perceived challenges she describes was the charging, but this actually turned out to be an added experience as well, as she found that it gave opportunities to meet people. Besides, what’s the hurry? Travel slow and enjoy the ride! One anecdote from her experience in the Balkans relates to the perception of sound and speed – there were some young boys challenging her, revving their bikes at the red lights not realising she was on an electric bike and would leave them eating her dust as soon as it turned green. Nowadays, Trui is an e-ambassador and organises electric night rides for similarly inclined people. This year will hopefully be the the 5th event and it is planned to take place in Luxembourg on the 19-20th of September. You can read more about her and e-bikes on her blog.
Lara Tarabay is the founder of the Litas Dubai, WIMA United Arab Emirates and the WRWR ambassador for UAE and Dubai. Lara’s story was, in many ways, different as she comes from a country where women’s independence is by no means something to take for granted. As she was under her husband’s sponsorship, she needed his signature to be able to obtain a driver’s licence. Learning to ride was a challenge for Laura, riding is dominated by men and although women are allowed to ride in Dubai, very few do. Lara is a great example of what a woman can do when she sets her mind to it, after only a few years riding she has achieved more than many will in a lifetime. In 2017, she started looking for a group to ride with, not being satisfied with the options, she established the Litas Dubai as a casual group for women riders where they could ride together and support each other. This was the first female Arab riding group and it was soon followed by Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Kuwait. Still striving for more, she then contacted WIMA in 2019 in order to set up a more formal group with closer international connections. Then the WRWR happened and she was all in, taking on the ambassadorship for UAE, and hosting the final event in Dubai.
Guliafshan Tariq, aka Pakistan Biker Girl, is another strong woman who has overcome difficulties and worked against prejudices and found her way. She started as a cyclist and moved on to motorcycling, as she said travelling with an engine would allow her to cover longer distances. Her dedication to her country is heart-warming, her mission is to show the Pakistan that media doesn’t show, and she has opened up her house hosting travellers from all over the world in order to spread positive messages about her country. She was intending to travel in the UK as an ambassador for her country, but is currently stuck in Scotland due to the Coronavirus Lockdown. She does, however, plan to continue her travelling and travel further afield as well but, for her, visas are an issue with many countries due to her Pakistani passport. Guliafshan also made a huge contribution to the WRWR in her country, but ironically it had to be a foreign motorbike traveller who took the baton across the border to India as Guliafshan couldn’t obtain a visa. Those of us who are born in Western countries often don’t realise how fortunate we are being born with the passport we have.
Guliafshan first contacted WIMA a shade over a year ago and started the discussions about setting up a WIMA division in Pakistan. In the meantime, she has created a female riding group of about 20 women and she plans to hold training events as well as raise awareness of safety gear and other activities. You can find out more about Guliafshan and her projects through her YouTube channel.
Caroline Lunnon, member of WIMA GB, has travelled around the world on her motorbike. Before circumnavigating the globe with only a weekend of camping in Wales as preparation, Caroline dealt with an even larger challenge, the inner journey coming to terms with loss and grief which made even getting out of bed a great challenge. She described it as pushing boundaries, from small things such as everyday chores to bigger challenges such as trekking up to Mount Everest base camp. She started her circumnavigation riding east and spent about 2 years on the road. In WIMA we love to connect people and she spent two weeks with Nor, national president of WIMA Malaysia. She said she learned from Nor to travel slow and savour the experience and the encounters which meant that after Malaysia her travelling pace slowed down. When she completed her world travels she decided to sell her house, saying that she didn’t want that anchor to hold her down. Her journey is both an inner journey and an overland journey and for those of you who are interested in knowing more she has an excellent website: funsmazwaz.com
Tiffany Coates, long-time member of WIMA GB, and frequent speaker at different overland events shared her first journey with us: the history behind the purchase of the famous Thelma the bike. Tiffany didn’t take up biking until she was 29 and it was all the result of an idea of travelling overland to India with her friend Becky. They both got their licences in preparation for the trip and spent 2 weeks riding in London before they left the country. On a good day they would only fall twice. The bike was heavy and tall, they were on tiptoes, two up with luggage. Although the idea was to ride to India they refused to stop when they got there, they just rode on until they ran out of money. And then they worked to earn more and travel further. What was supposed to be a 6-8-month journey became 2 and a half years. Tiffany has continued to travel ever since and is one of the foremost female motorcyclist adventure travellers in the word. On Tiffany’s Travels you can read more about her and even book a place on one of her tours as she is also a travel guide.
The ExCel centre in London is currently a field hospital and many of us are not riding due to legal restrictions or recommendations. Hopefully, this introduction to a few of our amazing WIMA members will have left you feeling inspired, and with a few new websites and youtube channels to check out, time will pass quicker until we can ride together again.