One writer finds healing during International Female Ride Day, the global movement to empower women who drive motorcycles, ATVs, and other motorized off-road vehicles.
Alone behind the wheel of a UTV on a backcountry road in Sedona, Arizona, I seriously considered turning around. My only other option was to power over the exposed and rocky cliff ahead of me. It was steep and I was scared, but what would be the point of trying something new if I don’t get a little spooked? Slowly, I lowered my foot on the gas pedal and the vehicle’s burly tires started crawling vertical over the boulders until I reached the hilltop. Red rock formations towered around me.
This is not my typical pace or preferred mode of transportation. I usually opt for slower-paced, human-powered sports like hiking, running, and climbing. The rough trail is one I would’ve walked up without a second thought. But when Polaris Aventures invited me to join them for International Female Ride Day (IFRD) in Sedona last year, I took them up on the chance to get out of my comfort zone.
Once again this year on May 7, women from around the world will celebrate IFRD. The global movement started 16 years ago when Vicki Gray, journalist and founder of the motorsports news publication, Motoress, called for gender parity, acceptance, and inclusion of women in motorcycling and powersports. Back then, women made up less than 10 percent of motorcycle owners, according to a study by the Motorcycle Industry Council. That figure has since doubled to 20 percent, with women taking to motorsports through experiences like IFRD.