PRESIDENT’S MESSAGES

Messages from the President

International President’s Report 2019

Dear National Presidents, Officers, and WIMA members,

As I sit down to write this, I’m in my dad’s house in Sweden and our Swedish WRWR Ripple Relay is not even two weeks old – but we have great expectations. So, what does the WRWR have to do with WIMA? A whole lot I would say, we have collaborated since day one and it is amazing to see how the WRWR movement and the WIMA organisation are growing and bouncing off each other in order to involve and connect more and more women all over the world. The WRWR has very much been part of my WIMA duties during this past year and the numerous hours spent networking has given many interesting new contacts and a few new divisions as well.

I’ve always believed in working with women bikers worldwide in the name of WIMA. To get the word out there and spread knowledge about the organisation, as well as supporting and connecting female riders in general. That is why I immediately supported the WRWR when it first came into being and used my time and network to communicate the message. I’m very pleased to see the numbers of WIMA members that have responded and gone out of their way to join in and support the world relay. Not to mention those of our members who even received superstar status for their achievements! I am so proud of working with you all!

Since last summer WIMA has grown with 6 divisions, Lithuania, Greece, Norway, Denmark, The United Arab Emirates and Luxembourg. Two of these, Norway and Luxembourg, are direct results of networking with the WRWR and the divisions are initiated by women who see WIMA as the next step for women riders to support each other long term. And I am in communication with several more women who are working on proposals for new divisions.

On a personal level, the WRWR Spain, Zaragoza to Andorra, was one of the highlights this spring. Super cool riding up with Eva and her group from Mujeres en Moto to Andorra where the Andorran motorcycle association met up together with a group of French WIMAs! What an amazing mix of people and nationalities, but as we say in WIMA –  Smiles and Motorcycles are universal languages and we all got together fantastically in a mix of Spanish, Catalan, English and French languages. During my 20 years in motorcycling there hasn’t been an event near this magnitude and I think it is a life changer for many, and a marker in motorcycling history. It is so cool to play a part in it both by networking and by being the guardian of the baton.

But one can’t go everywhere and sadly, due to work, I had to miss out on the Curaçao Dushi rally this spring. A great loss on my behalf, I’ve heard and seen wonderful things from the rally. I was, however, able to get over to Orange in France and I fully enjoyed the WIMA Days at the Touratech event. And in addition, on my way back, I was able to ride in the French ripple relay, from Orange towards Toulouse – something which inspired me to set up the Swedish ripple relay. Building on the success of the Swedish WRWR, I wanted to launch the ripple as a possibility for all those who weren’t able to join the relay to get involved and for Swedish female motorcyclists to work together bringing the flag north, south, east and west – the idea formed while I was making the Midsummer cake for my dad and on Midsummer Sunday we kickstarted the event.  While we are having fun carrying the flag around Sweden, we also hope to raise money to fund the motorcycle training for another apprentice or two at MJ Piki in Mwanza Tanzania.

But everything is not fun and games, I also do a lot of work behind the scenes, working with the readability of texts and communication with FIM, following the work of FEMA etc. In addition, we have opened an Instagram account and a YouTube account for WIMA World and this year we could upload the videos from the 3rd International WIMA Day competition on to our own channel, which I think is a great improvement. However, this was a technological challenge for me as I have not worked with YouTube before, but I learned a lot. Thanks a lot to everyone who took part in the competition and to those who voted. I truly enjoyed seeing your videos and we got good global representation.

While I’m finishing up this report, I’m also getting ready for the Swedish Horizons Unlimited event. Last year was a blast and I have been invited to speak once again about WIMA, MJ Piki and I will add WRWR to the mix, it’s all connected. That will be my last event in Sweden this summer. I’ll spend the second half of summer riding in Ireland and slowly making my way to the WIMA international rally in Derbyshire, England. Which, incidentally, is not far from where my partner’s family is based, so a visit there is also due.

I wish you all a wonderful year, ride safe!

Åsa Öhqvist

International President of WIMA

Spring 2019

Hello lovely people!
There is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the world of female motorcycling!
WIMA Curacao has just held the very first WIMA rally in the Caribbean and a shade over 80 members had an amazing time experiencing the island’s special nature and culture. I had to miss out due to work, unfortunately, but I eagerly followed the updates on social media and it is evident that our members had a blast. They even held a WRWR ripple relay – a national ride that springs off from the Women Rider’s World Relay.

The WRWR passed through Spain in March and I was happy to be able to take part in one leg, from Zaragoza to Andorra, an amazing experience – probably life changing. For a brief moment, some 150km or so, I was the guardian of the baton – a responsibility that, to date, I share with 500 women and we will be thousands before the baton circumnavigates the globe. Women Power! As the baton has a GPS tracker you can follow it online, it is currently in the Netherlands going into Denmark. If you’re into social media you can see the progress and follow the discussion there as well, the guardians and supporters are posting updates generously and Colette, who is intending to travel with the relay around the world, usually makes a live video every day. If you haven’t yet signed up to ride a leg, do! You won’t get a second chance to be part of the first WRWR!

Furthermore, I have some very exciting news from Wima World! As a result of extensive networking we can now welcome three new divisions:
I am very pleased that we have finally reached Sweden’s neighbouring countries, oh, how I have waited for this! Welcome WIMA Denmark and WIMA Norway!
In addition, I am thrilled to welcome WIMA United Arab Emirates – the first WIMA division in the Middle-East!
We live in exciting times!

Best wishes

Åsa, international president of WIMA

Winter 2018

Seasons greetings dear WIMA friends!
It has been an exciting autumn where we have welcomed two new divisions to our sisterhood of female bikers, WIMA Lithuania joined us back in October and now, in December, we can welcome WIMA Greece.

In addition, there has been and is so much going on with the social movement Women Riders World Relay. It was started by Hayley Bell, member of WIMA GB, and soon spread globally and the plans are now developing. I look forward to taking part in the relay when it passes through Spain sometime in early spring. Have you checked when it passes you? It is not too late to join in!

Next year, we have two rallies to look forward to, first out is the Dushi WIMA Rally in Curacao, the first WIMA rally ever in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, I will have to miss out on this very special bike and beach rally as my job doesn’t permit me to take time off in the middle of a course. Instead, I’ll be attending our international rally in England mid-August. I’ll have plenty of free time this coming summer, so some further plotting and planning is underway – the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is a possible route to take. As you can see, I no longer have my Kawasaki 650 Versys. I’d been looking for a more nimble bike for some time and, as the mileage on the Kawa was increasing, I finally swapped it for a BMW F650GS, a beautiful red one. It’s older but with lower mileage. I can’t wait to load up my new-for-me bike and enjoy the countryside of the British Isles again!
Best wishes for the new year!

Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA

Autumn 2018

Hello lovely ladies!
Another summer is coming to an end. Summer has been one of the hottest, if not the hottest, in my life. It felt unbearable at times but when autumn came over one night, it became cool and rainy. As you know, I’m Swedish and we Swedes constantly talk about the weather and we’re never quite happy with it regardless of how it is.
In late June, I attended the Horizons Unlimited meet in Sweden and had the opportunity to give a talk about WIMA. As the audience was mainly male, I was pleasantly surprised that they were so interested and that so many questions followed about our organisation and activities. Their message to us was please don’t hesitate to use Horizons Unlimited’s communication channels as well, when you need help or advice. Just as WIMA is women supporting women, Horizons Unlimited is travellers supporting travellers.

The weather during the Horizons Unlimited event was brisk, as low as 3 degrees during the night, a stark contrast to the weather a few weeks later during the FIM rally in Lithuania. The week in Lithuania was a good opportunity for me to meet female riders and discuss the possibility of a Lithuanian WIMA division, as well as learning first hand about FIM and the history and purpose of their rallies. For those of you who don’t know, a FIM rally is a competition in touring and every country competes in several different categories, the most important ones are the largest number of participants and the longest distance travelled on average per participant. Besides this, the FIM rally also contains cultural elements with local food, music, dance and visits to nearby attractions – similar to what we do at our WIMA rallies.

The weather continued to be hot up north in Finland, and our location for the WIMA rally in the archipelago of Parainen was just perfect for us. Shady campsite with lots of trees, as well as a beach for swimming. I had a splash in the sea every morning, afternoon and evening. The rally itself had a good mix of activities: games and crafts to spend time off the bike, a bike safety workshop, excursions, poker run, parade and lots of different evening activities, for example karaoke, live band and DJ. We also had the possibility to learn more about FIM when Nita Korhonen introduced their work for women in motorcycling, and as we share objectives, hopefully we can collaborate in the future. I could go on forever telling you about the rally and the wonderful opportunity it gives for women to meet internationally, meet new friends, connect with old friends and have lots of fun on and off the bike together!

Attending a WIMA rally is something I wish that every woman would have the possibility to do at some point. If you haven’t attended one yet, I hope that our members can inspire you to do so with their posts and photos in our Facebook group and Instagram account. Next year, WIMA is hosting two rallies, firstly in Curaçao and then in Britain. More information is to follow. For now, I want to end my column with extending my greatest thanks to all the hard-working Finnish WIMAs who delivered this excellent rally for the benefit of all WIMA members!

Thank you!
Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA

2018

Dear WIMA friends and fellow bikers,
Here in the northern hemisphere, many have stored their bikes away, or are limited to shorter rides since days are shorter and nights are cold. This, of course, happens at the same time as the southern hemisphere enjoys summer and celebrates Christmas and New Year with barbeques or parties on the beach. One of my best New Year’s celebrations was back in 2005 when I was travelling in Australia and was hosted by Aussie WIMA members and joined them for a beach party at the surf club – for me to celebrate the turning of the year in shorts was amazing! For me, the people I meet through WIMA and the international activities that I’ve been able to take part in, at WIMA rallies but also spontaneous meet ups and online interactions, are what I value most from our organisation. The use of Facebook as a communication channel can bring us closer and I encourage all members to use our WIMA World Facebook group to share your activities: rides, mechanical issues, travel plans, asking for advice… it can be anything. If you’re not comfortable writing in English, write in your native language, Facebook can translate for us.

Back in the days when I lived in Sweden, winter was the time for tinkering with my bike and making plans for the next summer and where I would travel. Nowadays, I ride all year around, Spain has quite mild winters, but I still use the winters for planning my summers, perhaps out of habit. For this upcoming summer, I have quite a lot I would like to fit in my schedule. FIM has their annual rally the week before us, in Lithuania, which is practically next door to Finland. So, if I manage to complete my logistics puzzle, I will be there representing WIMA and I would be delighted if other WIMA women could join me there. If you think it sounds interesting, please contact me directly and we can chat about it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, summer is still far away – we start the new year with an invitation from Vidhi, President of WIMA India. On the 7th of January we are all invited to ride with WIMA India in support of disabled people, or superhumans as they prefer to call them. Everyone who wants to take part can do so in their own location and post photos using the hashtags #BiggestSocialLive #NoLabels #NoLimits #WimaGlobal #WimaIndia (Replace India with the name of your team). This is likely to be my very first event for 2018. If you want to know more you can contact Vidhi directly by e-mail of Facebook.

I’ll end here, wishing you a Happy New Year full of riding and whatever else your heart desires! I hope to see you on the road or on social media.

Best wishes,
Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA

Seasons_Greetings_2018

2017

Dear WIMA friends and female riders worldwide!

I’m privileged to have been given the trust to represent WIMA on an international level and my warmest thanks go to Claudia Fehrer for her many years of of service, firstly by serving four years as treasurer, followed by one year as vice-president and lastly five years as international president. Thank you Claudia for your great contribution to our organisation!
Many new divisions have joined our international sisterhood during the last 10 years and WIMA currently has 25 divisions. I have had the joy of working with a few of these new divisions myself during my time as vice-president. Working together with our members and connecting female riders all over the world by spreading the good word of WIMA sisterhood is simply amazing. Connecting and supporting female riders worldwide has been the main goal of WIMA since the organisation started in the US more than 60 years ago and it is with great joy I continue doing so as international president.

Åsa Öhqvist, International President of WIMA
July 2017

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