Saturday, May 3, 2014
International Female Ride Day (IFRD) was conceived in 2007 by motoress.com founder Vicki Gray. It's mission is simple: draw attention to just how many women ride motorcycles around the globe, and spread the word. Women make up the fastest-growing segment of motorcycling and it's high time to celebrate this.
8 years later, IFRD has become a worldwide spectacle, fed virally by various social media platforms to inform ladies everywhere to “Just Ride”. In order to accommodate riders’ cultural scheduling challenges in India, 2014’s event was moved to the first Saturday in May. The move was welcomed globally, since many riders didn’t have to take the day off work in order to participate. In the drizzle, 25 riders had gathered at Toronto City Hall, fuelled by coffee and Timbits courtesy of the organizers.
So what's it like to be the lone male rider in a pack of females? Rolling in on my 200cc scooter, I quickly found out that my bike was the smallest of the bunch. Not that it mattered - the atmosphere was an appealing contrast from the biker meets I was accustomed to. No tribal-divide-depending-on-what-you-ride here, and no testosterone-y “mine-is-bigger” BS - just a fun, low-key, feeling of inclusivity, and a shared joy of riding. Less bike-talk, more ride-talk.
Goldie Eng, motorcycle safety instructor, and a force behind the charity Women Ride Out Against Rape (WROAR) summed up her reason for being there:
“To me, IFRD is important because it represents a sense of empowerment given to female riders. Considering the sport is male dominated, it makes me proud to be part of a small (hopefully getting bigger) group of women breaking the stereotype and riding their own ride.”
A short hop to Corus Quay meant breakfast courtesy of Kymco. More camaraderie, hijinks, and the oh-so- fashionable selfie followed. Representatives from Honda, BMW, Kawasaki and Rider’s Plus stocked the prize box, which were handed out before Vicki Gray herself provided ride instructions. It was a first group ride experience for some and this was the perfect opportunity to learn.
And what a ride it was! Stalking through Toronto's downtown core, the ladies garnered the requisite attention of pedestrians, curious cagers, and even waves from bicycle cops covering the Queen's Park beat. Leader Vicki ensured that the ride was in perfect formation, controlling the tempo, with three more organizers behind to make sure everything ran smoothly. Even the weather co-operated, offering cloudy skies but dry roads. End-of-ride at the Prince's Gates at Exhibition Place meant the end to official festivities. From here, riders would split up into smaller packs for rides of their own. I bid adieu, honoured to be considered "one of the girls" this day.
Signing in to social media afterwards showed the magnitude of IFRD. Within Ontario, women from Peterborough, London, Sarnia, Niagara and Ottawa gathered and rode, along with sisters worldwide from as far and wide as New Zealand, South Africa, Cyprus, Germany, India, Iceland, and all over the United States. It was a thrill to see all the photos of rides from all over the globe appear on the IFRD Facebook page, and knowing I was a part of it all.
International Female Ride Day truly has made the world a smaller place. Check out the official IFRD Facebook page for more photos from all over the world:
And Mondo's flickr album documenting previous IFRD: