Cape Town - Pink is not a colour one usually associates with bikers, but in this case it was entirely appropriate, as nearly 80 riders from all over the Western Cape rode in two groups to the Fish Hoek beachfront for a raucous beach breakfast and party.

Many wore pink reflective jackets, scarves, helmets or even tutus, and their bikes were festooned with pink balloons - because every one of these intimidating, leather-clad bikers was... female.

The occasion was the 12th annual International Female Ride Day, celebrated on the first Saturday in May by women riders in more than 70 locations in at least 29 countries around the world, including nine in South Africa hosted by the HOG chapters of Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country.

But this wasn’t a Harley event - far from it, with sports riders on superbikes, adventure tourers on big beetle-crushers, big cruisers, stylish scooter riders and practical commuters, wearing every badge from Aprilia to Zongshen, united by a love of riding, and the opportunity to show the community at large that women riders are a force to be reckoned with – to quote singer Helen Reddy, “in numbers too big to ignore”.

It was the BMW riders who, when asked at the briefing before the Cape Town ride by road captain Hermien van Zyl why they ride such big off-roaders, replied in a concerted shout: “Because we can!”

And that summed up the spirit of International Female Ride Day - women coming together to ‘Just Ride’, not for charity, or any of the dozens of good causes that bikers in general (some of the world’s most community-minded people) seem to espouse so readily, but just because they can, and because they want the rest of the world to know they can.

More than one mentioned the lady riders of Saudi Arabia, who up to now have been prohibited from riding on public roads. That ban has recently been lifted; several Saudi women are now preparing to take their licence tests.

And if Vicki Gray, the Dutch-Canadian riding instructor, publisher of online women’s motorcycling website Motoress, and founder of International Female Ride Day, has her way, next year there will be a women-only ride in Saudi Arabia on the first Saturday in May - because they can.

IOL Motoring