Ever dream of being a part of something bigger? Join the Women Riders World Relay!
How ‘totally bonkers’ does one need to be to hatch an idea that has caught fire worldwide in only a few short weeks? Hayley Bell, a twenty-seven year old British office manager and a relatively new rider with three years under her belt, has dreamt up the idea of bringing people together, combining her passion for riding with an image of connecting women across cities, countries, and even continents, and reminding the motorcycling industry of the force behind women in motorcycling. With a team of nine like-minded women – Versiya, Michelle, Liza, Nathalie, Emma, Liv, Jo, Sara and Shana, Hayley began working on the project.
Hayley’s own experiences of riding, wrenching, and building a café racer el250 might not be what one would expect as the instigator of this event, but as she says “I’m well known with my friendship group as always coming up with crazy ideas and never being able to sit still.” Her love of travel, her resilience in coming back after a couple of ‘offs knocked my confidence’ that led her to practicing off-roading and falling in love with enduro, combined with the all too familiar frustrations with how women are treated as motorcyclists let this simple concept take hold. A few Facebook posts hit a nerve with other women, and thus was born Women Riders World Relay, or WRWR. In only eight days, well over a thousand riders, on every type of bike and from countries both expected and surprising, have expressed interest. Since then, it’s grown to over nine thousand five hundred. That’s over ninety-five hundred women who ride, race, cruise, explore, who want gear that fits, colors beyond pink, and to be seen as who they are: competent, capable, and equal.
International Female Ride Day, a global celebration of motorcyclists observed by riding, gathering, and promoting the sport for women on the first Saturday in May, is another event that has been working to accomplish some of the same goals. But unlike IFRD, the WRWR will potentially span months as individuals, teams, and groups pass a baton, literally touching person to person across the globe. It will keep the enthusiasm, and the message, in the forefront as followers can track the ride in real time.
A motto, “Unites Us, Excites Us” has been chosen, as has a logo. Translating the interest shown to actual sign ups for the ride is a huge task. Volunteers are stepping forward and conversations are circulating about subjects as varied as signing on sponsorships, do the riders want to find, and raise money for, charities devoted to empowering girls and women, and how to deal with the logistics of riding in hemispheres that experience opposing seasons.
There’s a bragging rights competition to see which countries have the greatest number of enthusiasts, with Australia currently in the lead with close to two thousand riders. As women sign up, routes will be determined by where they live, and hopefully the dream of circling the entire globe will be achieved. At this point it’s possible there will be both on- and off-road segments.
Hayley’s goal within the next six months is to have routes in place, motorcycling industry leaders on board, and over 20,000 followers in 100 countries either as participants or supporters. Given the enthusiasm, the flurry of activity in a mere few weeks, and the desire of women to connect with each other in support of their passion for riding, it’s not a stretch to imagine that goal being reached quickly.
Getting the word out to more countries, and more remote locations, is where social media comes in. Women who ride in obscurity are finding fellow countrywomen who share their love of two wheels, and a sisterhood is being created via sites such as Facebook (Women Riders World Relay WRWR) and Instagram (#WRWR2019). Sharing with friends, posting on social media, and inviting women you meet to join in will hopefully help to keep it growing.
What are you waiting for?
Words: Lynda Lahman