When it comes to the world of powersports — encompassing motorcycles, snowmobiles, and all manner of off-road vehicles — looks can be deceiving. At first glance, it seems like a man's world, because for many years, it was. But an ever-growing legion of female riders are making their presence known and empowering each other in their sports, all while encouraging more women to participate, too.
And no single moment represents these ideals and goals better than the annual International Female Ride Day (IFRD). Celebrated on the first Saturday of May, IFRD sees women from more than 120 countries gather to hit the road — or off the road — in a day of unity and support for the female riding community.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of IFRD.
"Initially, my intent was to increase awareness of female riders around the world, while uplifting those currently enjoying the activity. I also wanted to inspire women who were curious about learning to ride, to take that next step," said Vicki Gray, motorcyclist and founder of IFRD. "Going forward, my hope is that the IFRD momentum continues to blaze a path for women, and that IFRD will encourage women to go from trying powersports to being regular participants, while still showcasing the many existing women who ride."
When Gray founded IFRD in 2007, the event was strictly geared toward female motorcyclists like her. Over time and with the help of partners like Polaris — a leading company in the world of all things powersports — the meaning of IFRD has expanded to include all powersports. To further solidify its commitment to IFRD and its mission of supporting and promoting women in various powersports, Polaris also created the Empowersports Women's Riding Council with Gray as its inaugural member.
"Having the support and partnership of Polaris has certainly added a high-octane component to IFRD's fuel," Gray explained, adding that no matter the vehicle of choice, these women are united through their common love of riding. "By inviting women to share in the IFRD [activities], we are building stronger connections among riders and are able to bring in more new riders than ever before."
The Empowersports Women's Riding Council "exists to uplift the passions that fuel women and put forth deliberate efforts for increased representation, inclusion, and participation of women in powersports," the council website reads. Through regular meetings between council members and Polaris, they also hope to address other concerns, from gear practicality and safety practices to breaking down barriers to build a more diverse ridership.
"It's not just about showing people in your marketing," said Amy David, a professional mountain athlete and member of the Empowersports Women's Riding Council. "It's about creating a welcoming environment and opportunities for more people to try these powersports."
In the spirit of increasing accessibility, Polaris Adventures — one of several branches of the company — invites riders of all skill levels to rent its powersport vehicles at more than 150 locations across the U.S. Whether you opt for a guided or self-guided experience, a visit to one of these Polaris Adventures locations is the perfect way to celebrate IFRD or simply dip your toes in the powersport of your choosing.
In Idaho, High Mountain Adventures allows visitors to hop on the back of a snowmobile for a ride through a veritable winter wonderland. This Polaris outfitter offers guided backcountry tours, exhilarating rides through the Rocky Mountains, and excursions specifically geared toward spotting the local moose population.
Meanwhile, in California, just a two-hour drive outside of San Diego takes you to Ironwoods Off-Road Rentals, where you can strap into a RZR and rip through the desert hills and sand dunes.
In Waikoloa, Hawaii, you can chase waterfalls with the wind in your hair as you drive a Polaris Slingshot (similar to a motorcycle, but with three wheels) rented from Aloha Motorsports.
And these are just a few of the opportunities that Polaris Adventures offers. With International Female Ride Day just around the corner on May 1, 2021, it's the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy what Gray calls "wind therapy."
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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