International Female Ride Day (IFRD) is a global ride day for women motorcycle riders. Now referred to as a “movement” by its participants, its action of “Just Ride!” asks women to be on their motorcycles, scooters or trike’s on the first Saturday of May each year. Like all events this year, IFRD had to be postponed due to the pandemic, but it’s now on for next weekend.
Created in 2007 by Vicki Gray, a lifetime motorcycling advocate, road and race instructor – with the purpose to profile and highlight the many diverse women enjoying the activity of motorcycling. Its mission is to that of building awareness of female motorcyclists across all cultures while simultaneously encouraging other women to take up the sport.
You won’t be surprised to hear that while the first Saturday in May wasn’t possible this year, the rescheduled day of celebrating female motorcyclists from all cultures will take place next weekend – Saturday 22 August. And of course, I’m in.
I had the opportunity to ask founder of International Female Ride Day, Vicki Gray, along with Senior Marketing Manager of Polaris, Joey Lindahl, my questions about how International Female Ride Day came about and what it means to them, so I could share a bit more about what this day represents in terms of getting women out and riding motorbikes all across the world. I hope you enjoy this interview.
Tell me the story behind International Female Ride Day; why is it important that we have a celebration day dedicated to us?
“International Female Ride Day® (IFRD) has been observed since 2007. In addition to being a motorcycling instructor, road racer, motorcycling advocate and owner of MOTORESS I founded International Female Ride Day as a day to highlight and promote women motorcycle riders.
“The idea had been in the works since 2006 but came to reality on Friday May 4, 2007. The very first day launched in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with the call to action of “JUST RIDE!”. IFRD was born with the purpose of emphasizing the fact that women ride motorcycles, enjoy motorcycling and have since the motorcycle’s invention.
“This initiative to invite women to join together on one globally synchronized day fully demonstrates this reality. This year Polaris has partnered with us supporting the mission and expanding the message to women who participate in other powersports activities as well.”
“Polaris is thrilled to partner with International Female Ride Day this year. The participation and celebration we see from diverse women across the globe is amazing. IFRD provides us the opportunity to come together in celebration of the love of riding and to ensure female riders are well represented across the industry. Whether motorcycling, snowmobiling, off-roading or cruising in a Slingshot, Polaris’ portfolio of powersports vehicles empower women to connect with the outdoors and ride on any terrain.”
What do you love most about motorcycling and the motorcycling community?
“I love the camaraderie and passion we all share as motorsport enthusiasts. And within the women rider segment of the activity, we share a natural bond, a powerful connectivity with each other which surpasses all cultures and borders! This is truly empowering. The fact that women in all motorsport roles are mothers, wives, sisters, government officials, entrepreneurs, caregivers, and adventure seekers – from recreation to utility.”
Do you think female riders (still) have to work hard to be taken seriously in the world of motorcycling? What can we do to help combat that?
“Women continue to break away from traditional stereotypical roles. To see a woman taking a world tour on her motorcycle, solo, is now common. There are many women motorcycle pioneers from as far back as the 30s who were travelling across continents, winning races etc. But today, with the access provided by internet and social media – including such movements as IFRD, we are able to view women’s activities first hand. Women are propelled by IFRD to take it upon themselves to create rides that cater to them instead of being a subset of an all-male ride.
“This is something that’s happening in motorcycling, and in other areas of powersports. And now, women are being taken more seriously in the powersports space, however there’s still work to be done. Work that sees women of all races and backgrounds with the power to play a major role in the narrative of powersports.”
“As female participation in powersports continues to grow, women have a voice and a presence in the industry like never before. Historically though, women have lacked representation and inclusion in the industry which is something that needs to change. That’s why Polaris proudly partners with IFRD and many other female riding organizations to support and empower female riders everywhere.”
What would you say to a fellow female who is thinking about learning to ride but is nervous about riding?
“People are frequently hesitant to explore motorcycling or other powersports for safety concerns. And for women the perception based on the size and power of the machinery can appear daunting. But with technique and training from a professional, riding becomes a rewarding activity like any sport. And motorcycling in any form – road, dirt or track is a great activity to share with friends and family!
“No one is an expert at first. Educate yourself and participate at your own pace with people you feel comfortable with! Speaking as an instructor for over 30 years, a proper introduction to any powersport, will unquestionably have you wanting more!”
Where and what will you be riding on Saturday 22 August?
“With the present restrictions in place, physical distancing and border crossing limitations, I’ll be celebrating here in Toronto and around Ontario with a solo ride. I plan to ride to sites, monuments and landmarks dedicated to women and women’s equality in my province. I may have a few other women rider friends join me. Normally I’d attend women’s IFRD events where there can be over 500 riders in attendance.
“Most importantly on Saturday 22 August, I will be clocking up the kilometers, all day, doing my part representing women in motorcycling – a woman motorcyclist joining others doing the very same, worldwide.
“And let’s face it, motorcycling and powersports is an excellent way to experience adventure while remaining socially distant!“
Vicki ended by saying: “However you prefer to ride, it is truly an experience like no other — exhilarating, liberating, and fulfilling. The female riding community is one of expanding camaraderie on open roads and trails.”
Are you a female motorcyclist? Will you join me, Vicky, and others to ride a few miles next Saturday in celebration of female riders everywhere? I’d love to hear where and what you’ll ride in the comments below – and be sure to tag #IFRD and #InternationalFemaleRideDay on social media. See you on the road!
Take a look at International Female Ride Day photos on Instagram.