For too long, the masculine ego has plagued the world of motorcycle riding. The overplayed stereotype that female motorcycle riders are nothing more than arm-candy for the heavily tattooed, leather-clad, sleeveless motorcycle villain is so far from the truth it has reached mythological status. The motorcycle community has long been accepting of female riders, but the level of acceptance does not always match the level of encouragement or profile of other male riders. Therefore, people like Vicki Gray took matters into their own hands and encouraged women on an international scale to show their strength and support by taking part in the International Female Riding Day on the first Saturday in every May since 2006.
The women’s motorcycling community is strong and vibrant, full of powerful and independent females from all walks of life. While stereotypes, unfortunately, continue to plague the world of riding, there are many advocates who are welcoming and ushering in change. IFRD is one popular way of doing this, and it has accrued a growing number of participants every year. For those unfamiliar with the now tradition of IFRD, you may find the concept encouraging and welcoming, especially with multiple ways to take part and show your support for an often undervalued community of female riders that are now growing and thriving.
Understanding the IFRD Concept
IFRD is a motorcycle riding event that takes place on the first Saturday of May, and it aims to encourage female motorcycle riders all over the world. However, beyond a one-day event, IFRD is a campaign aimed at the empowerment of female riders. While typically understood as a male-dominated past-time, women compete in motocross and other forms of riding as well. Therefore, organizers of IFRD want to turn a spotlight on the enthusiasm, passion, involvement and ability of all female riders, no matter their current skill. The goal and concept of IFRD is to create awareness of the gender diversity of riders and to contribute to the recognition of role models for future generations. Riding is a freeing experience that should be enjoyed by everyone willing, regardless of gender.
Understanding how international women’s riding day started is interesting and likely centered around one woman, Vicki Gray. About 13 years ago, Ms. Gray became increasingly aware of the growing number of female motorcyclists, and she decided to draw attention to this growth by organizing a one-day ride. The stipulations for participating were simple; just go out and ride.
The first IFRD event occurred on a Friday, but through the efforts of grassroots campaigning and traditional marketing strategies, the number of participants increased annually. Therefore, to accommodate the growing number of riders, the IFRD moved to the first Saturday of May. Nearly 13 years later, the IFRD is an international tradition, drawing in large crowds and contributing to the growth and awareness of the women’s motorcycle community.
For those wishing to participate in IFRD, all are welcome. There are no restrictions, and the only requirement is you are a committed member of the women’s motorcycling community. However, even if you are not an active member of your local motorcycle community, or if there is no local motorcycle community, you can feel free to participate. The point is just to get out and ride. Take pride in being a female motorcyclist. While riding is enough, there are a few common things that many bikers are curious about.
While several official events around the world may require registration, you do not need to register to participate. IFRD is free, and you can join from anywhere in the world. Merely taking your motorcycle to work is enough to participate. However, to connect and show your support for others, you can document your participation by posting images or video on social media with hashtags corresponding to IFRD.
- Planned routes
Again, the point of IFRD is to get out and ride, no matter where you are or where you go, but there are some groups, clubs or organizations that may have planned routes and even meetup locations for those wishing to take part in the day that way. Also, feel free to organize your own group outing to show your support, but remember to sign up to an IFRD group page and post your pictures.
- Official events
While the ride itself is an official event, other groups and clubs choose to embrace the IFRD name and put on gatherings and celebrations. The important thing is to spread the IFRD name and the meaning behind the event. Therefore, if you put together your own group ride, call it an IFRD ride. The initial ride earned its purpose and notoriety through grassroots campaigning, and it will continue to do so with your help.
- Motorcycle not required
While the design of the initial event encouraged female motorcyclists to ride, the meaning has grown. Now riders of all types are welcome to participate. If you ride a scooter, ATV, dirt bike, etc., join the IFRD movement, and show the world what it means to be an empowered female rider.
For those interested in taking part in IFRD, questions of women’s motorcycle riding gear may come up. While it is true that for long rides, motorcyclists should prepare with appropriate gloves, helmets, seats, boots and more, IFRD is meant for care-free, easy riding. If you like long treks, then obviously prepare, but if you are more of a city traveler, then whatever you usually use is fine. IFRD is about showing your passion for riding, but every rider has a different passion and degree of riding. For some, small trips around a busy city are what it’s all about, but for someone else, motocross is the bee’s knees. Whether you are a touring, sport bike or ATV rider IFRD is about celebrating you and your individual flair.
International Female Ride Day is all about female empowerment in a stereotypically masculine world. So, join the strong and growing women’s community, grab your best women’s motorcycle gear, take a ride and share on social media. Give support to all those women still hiding behind closed garage doors because they are afraid of what the neighbors might think.