Female riders brave elements for WIMA meet

female riders WIMA

Thunder, lightning and flooding couldn’t stop the annual Women’s International Motorcycle Association (WIMA) International Rally which was held in Poland in early August.

WIMA Australia was represented by national president Moira Stewart and vice-president Kathy O’Donnell, who were among the 250 participants, including some husbands, partners and sons, from 15 countries.

Moira writes for MotorbikeWriter about the event:

female riders WIMA
Moira and Kathy fly the flag

“One of the best things about being a member of the Women’s International Motorcycle Association (WIMA) is the network of inspiring, adventurous and fun-loving women from more than 20 countries and another is the opportunity to meet many of them at the annual International Rally. This year it was held near Zakopane, in the far-south of Poland in the Tatra Mountains from August 3-9. Many had ridden thousands of kilometres from countries as far as Sweden, Finland, Estonia, England, Belgium and the Netherlands and most of them faced thunder, lightning and lashing rain on the way. At least it was warm though, being summer in Europe.

female riders WIMAOn the Sunday night, the hotel bar was raging with everyone catching up with old friends and making new ones, and as usual with WIMA rallies, the drinks were flowing freely. Also cheaply: beer was $2 for .5L, same for the local specialty, vodka, best drunk straight. The following day, most were out riding around the area on one of three recommended rides varying from 100–240km. Anyone not back by 5pm endured the daily rain, thunder and lightning storm. At least it wasn’t cold. The Tatras are a great place for excellent views, twisty roads and cheap, tasty food. In the evening, there was an official welcome from WIMA Poland national president Maura Raniecka and entertainment featuring local folk music and dancing. On Tuesday, many rallyists set off for sightseeing in Krakow, about 120km away. It is a picturesque, historic city set on the banks of the Visla River and everyone enjoyed its tourist pleasures varying from river cruising to riding in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Back in the mountains, the rain, thunder and lightning were on full throttle and continued on through the night into the next day. In spite of the weather, at least 100 bikes turned out for a parade through Zakopane and into the countryside. The formal speech by the mayor was cancelled because he was away attending to floods, broken bridges and washed-away roads. Hot food and drinks were very welcome at a late lunch at Hotel Zajazd Bialczanski in Bialka Tatrzanska and we were entertained by a well-known Polish children’s folk dance group. The hotel bar did a roaring trade again on Wednesday night.

The planned event on Thursday was a checkpoint ride with nine stops at places such as scenic views, ancient churches, a man-made lake and other attractions. It was a challenging ride for those using maps and asking for directions…well, not everyone has GPS! The AGM for the national presidents was also held that evening and a slap-up dinner and drinks were enjoyed by those hard-working members afterwards. Meanwhile, the party continued in the bar.female riders - wima

Friday was the last day of the rally with no planned events other than the Farewell Party at night so some took a last ride in the hills and others went to Zakopane to buy souvenirs, take photos and other tourist activities. The Tour de Poland had taken place locally the previous day so many of the big-name cycling teams were leaving town, road traffic was choked and bicycles and motorbikes were the best way to get around. The weather was notable because there was no thunder or lightning. At the hotel that evening everyone gathered for the last dinner and host President Maura thanked the staff at the Hotel Rewita and all the WIMA members who had come from all around the globe for a fabulous week of riding and partying. 

It was a truly memorable rally and I look forward to meeting next year when WIMA Australia hosts the International Rally at Phillip Island in October – let the party continue!”

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