CW 5Q: Vicki Gray, International Female Ride Day Founder

Catching up on the road with the leader of the pack.

Vicki Gray and her BMW F800R

Vicki Gray sounds tired. You would be, too, if you were trying to coordinate the activity of hundreds of thousands of women all over the world. On the same day. Doing the same thing. Everywhere. Indeed, Saturday, May 3, is International Female Ride Day, the only worldwide-synchronized motorcycle event of its kind. I caught up with its founder just long enough to ask a few questions.

International Female Ride Day isn’t a charity ride or a fundraiser. What’s it all about?

“Women riding motorcycles isn’t new. As long as there’ve been motorcycles, there’ve been women who ride them. It’s simply a way to show how many of us there are.”

This is the ride’s eighth consecutive year. How has it evolved?

“Well, social media has really propelled participation. You know, when Linda Dugeau started Motor Maids in 1940, she hand-wrote letters to get women involved. Today, women post a picture on Facebook and the message reaches people all over the world in an instant. I started the first International Female Ride Day in 2007, and it’s impossible to keep track of the numbers now. It’s a full-time job!”

Where are some of the places women are participating you wouldn’t have expected?

“How about the Yukon Territories? These women really typify today’s female rider; they’re not about to let things like weather and rough terrain stop them. Russia is another big area of involvement. We’ve had tremendous support from the National Russian Motorcycle Federation every year. We’ve also had lots of support in South Africa, Australia, and India. I’m told the ride a few years ago in Israel was the first time a group of women ever rode together through the streets of Tel Aviv. That’s pretty cool.”

How did you get involved in motorcycling?

“I eat, live, and breathe motorcycles. I’ve been a riding instructor for 29 years, and a race-licensing instructor for 12 of those. I raced in the Supersport 600 series in Europe in the 1990s and mid-2000s, and race vintage bikes now. When I started racing, I recognized the lack of information available to women in the sport and started Race Girl Motorsports, a non-profit organization that served to support and inspire women in motorcycling. I moved to Toronto in 2006, and Race Girl Motorsports evolved to encompass a broader range of riding styles as”

How will you know when International Female Ride Day has accomplished its mission?

“It has accomplished its mission. For eight years now, women get out there and just ride, and that’s all I ever asked. Of course, I hope someday it will have a permanent place in women’s lives. Like Mother’s Day, for example.”

Vicki Gray riding her Yamaha FZ8