My kick-ass friends!

My kick-ass friends!

They're not famous. They don't appear on the front pages of newspapers (although each of them is more than worthy of their own article). Like most of us, they have normal lives and go to work every day. But 'routine' isn't a word that's in their dictionary. Outside their daily lives, each of these women truly kicks ass in their respective disciplines! Although they're modest about their achievements, we admire them for their incredible strength and passion. Meet the real women who inspire us.




Maja & Joanna


Anna – Whitewater Kayaking


Once she's hung up her apron and finished her shift at the hospital, Anna becomes a queen of the white water. She's not put off by winter or the cold. For her, mountain kayaking isn't just a way to spend her free time or get a kick of adrenaline; it's a whole lifestyle – everything else is secondary. It's through kayaking that she had made many friends and discovered the world. However, it wasn't always so easy: Anna wanted to give up many times in the beginning. She can't say why she didn't just quit and stick to dry land activities but supposes it was through sheer stubbornness.

Anna also works hard to promote this unusual sport. Not only does she provide training; she also has her own YouTube channel where she advises others on how to get into kayaking and uploads instructional videos. She also encourages people to explore the city from the river. Anna loves paddling in winter: for her it's a great way to stay active and get some peace and quiet. Her goals are to keep improving and promoting women's kayaking.


No one who's followed this group from day one would have predicted what they'd achieve. Hrabiny are a group of girls who got together in 2013 to play softball. All from different backgrounds, the group includes a pet physiotherapist, lieutenant colonel, programmer and a radio reporter, with a total of about 20 players today. Despite their noble name, (Hrabiny is Polish for "Countesses") the group have never been ones to stand around doing nothing – they even weeded and maintained their pitch by themselves. Also not typically befitting of nobility are the bruises, dislocated fingers and crushed teeth that are all commonplace in the sport. After all, a softball can travel at up to 100 km/h!

Hrabiny Softball Wrocław

But their enthusiasm, hard work and pride deserve the highest praise. The team eventually reached the top league, even though more experienced teams initially taught the girls from Wrocław a bitter lesson. In their first season, they didn't win a single match. However, they quickly learned from their early failures and finally broke through in 2016 by winning their first Polish Championship title. The next season the team won the double – the Polish Championship and the Polish Cup. This success saw them representing their country at the European Championships. Hrabiny won Poland's heart thanks to their persistence, hard work and ingenuity. They did everything themselves: financed from their own resources, events and collections, and they funnelled all their income back into the development and promotion of softball in Poland.

Izabella – Ultramarathon Running


"I like running: long-distance running. But a lot of people do that" says Izabella of her passion. But this is very modest when you consider her accomplishments: Iza has already run so many mountain marathons that she has a "mosts" list. The "longest" is the Łemkowyna Ultra-trail at 150 km, the "most beautiful and mountainous": the Matterhorn Ultraks and the "most unusual" is The Ladakh Marathon. Taking part in the last requires many days of acclimatisation as it starts at 3500 m above sea level! Most impressive is that Izabella's results in this field are inferior only to pro athletes. Only, unlike the professionals, Iza spends eight hours a day sat behind a desk in an office.

It's therefore no exaggeration to say that she's a big fan of the mountains. Iza can also boast of expeditions to Aconcagua, Morocco, Thailand and Vietnam amongst other exotic locations. But the Himalayas remain her favourite, and she's always happy to go back there. She enjoys the peace, unspoilt nature and kind-hearted people. Additionally, Iza shares her passion and love for ultramarathon running in numerous publications. And, as if that's not enough, she also has an eye for a good shot, capturing her experiences in exquisite photographs.

Maja & Joanna – MTB

Energetic Maja can often be found either jogging in her local forest or riding the nearby trails. The latter awakens a kind of beast inside of her – the downhill beast. She recalls with laughter how starting out wasn't so easy, even though she was "asking for it". Her introduction to enduro was pretty intense – she almost lost her teeth, got a flat tyre and had to push the bike for the rest of the route. After that she decided to take a class to gain a bit of experience and change some bad habits; only to knock herself out landing a jump. But even this accident didn't deter her and she's still riding the trails. Flow trails are just a warm-up for her: she prefers those that require quick decisions. Her goal is to take part in a series of enduro competitions next year.



On the same trails, you'll meet a friend of Maja's from the same town – Joanna: who by her own modest admission "rides quite a lot in the mountains". Although a working woman and mother of two, Joanna isn't a slave to her daily routine and you won't find her at home on the weekend; not even in winter! For her, neither the weather nor having children is any excuse for not riding. Joanna displays her love for biking by taking part in enduro competitions and sharing her adventures on her blog "Motherbiker". As she explains: "Having children doesn't mean the end of our dreams. You can make them come true no matter how old you are."  Her blog is mostly made up of cycling content around her trips – both with and without the kids.

Joanna's whole family has been bitten by the bike bug and her sons (eight and eleven) hone their riding skills with both parents and at training courses with other kids. To help the kids uphill, Joanna and her husband tow the boys up, using a flexible rope imported from the USA. It’s extremely lightweight and made of military bungee rope that’s normally used to tow planes landing on aircraft carriers. The rope has significantly extended family bike trips, allowing the four to ride much further.

Maja and Joanna actively support the local MTB community. Not only are they members of a bicycle association, but have also recently applied for the construction of a pump track (BMX-style racetrack) in their village.

Cecile – Bike Touring


Cecile does so much you could share her activities amongst multiple people. She teaches children music, maths and spelling; she makes pottery and grows her own vegetables; she plays music. She's also always enjoyed being outdoors and hiking with her children and dog. But eight years ago, she started having trouble walking. The cause was congenital hip dysplasia that resulted in a hip replacement. The operation meant Cecile sadly had to forget all about long walks. However, it was at this very moment that she remembered her old friend: the bicycle! As a teenager, she’d cycled to high school every day and her first holiday was a bike tour. She is Dutch, after all. Luckily, cycling was ok for her hip.

Over time, Cecile's rides got longer and longer. In 2016, she decided to spend 11 weeks cycling through Europe. She rode three of these alongside her son, before carrying on alone (albeit with her dog in a trailer). Her next extensive trip took place in 2018: four and a half months through Italy and the Balkans, a bus to Berlin, cycling on to Denmark and then back to the Netherlands. Cecile admits it can be hard – especially in the mountains – and she sometimes gets a bit lonely. But she loves the freedom, stunning landscapes and friendly people she meets along the way. Overall, she loves the experience of packing her life into two panniers and all the ups and downs you experience on the road. From March 1st, Cecile heads off on tour again: this time towards central Asia for seven months. Her goal is to reach the Pamir Highway by the end. And just like on every other trip, her loyal companion, the guitalele, will accompany her.

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