By Charlene Shirk
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- It's the roar of the engine, the wind in your face, the feeling of freedom. The thrill of motorcycling has long been a man's sport. But not anymore.
Women are now going from the back seat to the front seat. The last two years have seen a surge of women riding and buying their own motorcycles.
Female ridership on the First Coast is actually higher than the national average.
Harley Spokesperson, Allison Bozarth, said one out of twelve motorcycle purchases last year at a First Coast Harley Davidson dealership were made by women.
"We're seeing an increase in women wanting to jump on a bike and not just be a passenger but also be the driver."
At Buffalo's in Orange Park, motorcycle riders gather to show off their bikes and plan riding trips.
Motorcyclist enthusiast Karen Loosemore was there. She's been riding on her bike for three months.
"My husband has ridden for years and I just wanted to to give it a shot and ride on my own."
Christine Bradberry's husband and son both ride. She says she realized that if she didn't learn how to ride she could never plan her own trips.
She says it's one of the best things she's ever done.
"Oh the feeling is absolutely wonderful."
Women hear the roar of the road as a break from family and work. It gives them a chance to be bit of a rebel.
Bozarth says women are worriers by nature and riding gives them a chance to stop worrying and just enjoy the scenery.
"This is their sense of freedom, their sense of being out there not having to answer to anyone, but just be on the road."
The motorcycle industry is paying attention to their new female customers, what they like and what they're spending.
Riding accessories now have fancy details, lower seats. There's even a high-end clothing line, fusing cycling with style.
"That's what you guys are looking for right? Get out from behind the back seat and be in control."
To turn these new riders into loyal customers Adamec Harley Davidson now offers a "women's only" safety class.
Student Rebecca Bailey's husband rides and encouraged her to learn. She preferred the ladies only class.
"You don't feel so intimidated by other men watching you and they know more than you do on the bike," said Bailey.
Rebecca got her grandmother to take the class with her since their husbands ride together.
There were both pretty nervous, but as the ladies learn to ride and relax, they realize being in the drivers seat, whether your 26 or 60, riding is pretty empowering.
61-year-old Nova teaches first grade. She drove to Jacksonville from Alabama to be in the class.
She says the drive was worth it.
"It's wonderful i'm coming back i'll be back, only on my own bike."
Brooke Trabert has been on her own bike for two years now.
She loves seeing more women join her on the road.
"Women see you can be out there doing this and enjoying it, and go back to your regular life and kids and family, and it's just another great hobby."
For Brooke it's become more than a hobby.
"This is my riding wig."
Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer just three months ago. You'd never know in just looking at her.
She's convinced the confidence she's gained from riding her motorcycle is what's saving her life.
"I feel strong and fit and it does give you a feeling of kind of empowerment when you're going down the road and you're feeling like you can keep up with everybody and it's just a great feeling."
Men have had a positive reaction to lady riders.
Rick Tally's wife has been riding for five years. He says female riders give the impression of being in charge of their life.
"When you see a woman on a bike that's a woman with a lot of confidence and a women whose sure of herself," said Rick.
He says it's also sexy.
"There's nothing hotter than a woman on a bike let's put it that way."
First Coast News