Cape Town - The catchphrase is “Just ride!” and each year on the first Saturday of May thousands of women bikers all around the world do exactly that.

What was originally labelled National Female Ride Day was started in Toronto by Dutch/Canadian motorcycle racer and advanced riding instructor Vicki Gray, founder of online women’s motorcycling website Motoress, and was intended to be run at several locations across Canada on the same day.

But even the very first edition on Friday 4 May 2007 went global with rides in the United States, Europe and Australia, and since then it has spread to every corner of the world, including South Africa since 2010. The date has been moved to the first Saturday in May each year, since many riders found it difficult to get off work on a Friday to go riding, and it has become the biggest ladies-only motorcycling event in the world.

This Saturday, 5 May, sees the 12th annual International Female Ride Day, with ladies-only rides in more than 70 locations in at least 29 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, the Caribbean, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand and in dozens of centres across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

From scooters to superbikes

In South Africa alone there will be 11 rides, organised by Lady Bikers SA - one starting from each Harley-Davidson dealership in the country. But it’s not a Harley event - any female rider on any roadworthy machine from a scooter to a superbike is welcome.

It’s neither a charity run, nor a contest - although there are big prizes for the best photos submitted to the organisers - and it doesn’t represent any motorcycle brand. It’s about getting out there, getting together with like-minded women and riding your bike.

Gray refuses to dictate what form individual rides should take; some are fund-raisers for chosen charities, others are testosterone-free track days at iconic circuits such as Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, but the majority are exactly what she had in mind 12 years ago - a way to bring women bikers together to be visible and Just Ride.

Cape Town’s women riders will gather at Harley-Davidson Tyger Valley on Carl Cronje Drive, Belville and Harley-Davidson Cape Town in Hospital Street from 8.30am on Saturday morning for free drinks and snacks, as well as informal group photos, before the runs get on the road at 9.30am, to converge in Fish Hoek for brunch – or lunch!

But perhaps the most important aim of International Female Ride Day is to convince women who’ve always wanted to ride, but never had the gumption to get their butt on a bike, that this is the year they are going to learn to ride!

For more about International Female Ride Day in South Africa:

Bloemfontein

Cape Town

Durban

Garden Route

Johannesburg

Middelburg

Polokwane

Pretoria

Zambezi

IOL Motoring