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The Scenestress catches chrome fever at Rossiter's

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A women's "garage party" at Rossiter's Harley Davidson welcomed both seasoned bikers and total noobs (like me).

A women's "garage party" at Rossiter's Harley Davidson welcomed both seasoned bikers and total noobs (like me).

With one hand resting on the handlebar of a shiny Harley-Davidson V-Rod, Sharon Edwards looked me up and down as I stepped into the circle of women surrounding her and the muscly motorcycle.

"Ladies who own this bike like to wear t-shirts that say, 'My vibrator comes with two wheels,'" Sharon was saying to the group, eliciting a burst of laughter that rang out through the Rossiter's Harley-Davidson (330 Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota 34232) showroom.

"And you, what kind of bike do you have?" she asked me. I could feel the other eyeballs slide my way, and I found myself wishing I'd stopped at Carol Prokap's wine tasting table first before diving into this women's Garage Party at the motorcycle shop. I might not have stammered as much.

"Oh, me? Uh---no, no bike."

"Do you have a helmet, boots?" Sharon asked. "Do you know how to ride at all?"

"Uhm---well, no," I admitted, "I'm a total newbie."  Impostor would be a better term, I thought.

"Hey, that's great!" Sharon exclaimed, and the whole group showered me with smiles, welcoming me into the world of chrome, leather and speed. My tension evaporated, and within a few minutes we were all straddling different Harley models, discovering our perfect fit.

Sharon Edwards (R) lets Chris, a police officer, get a feel for one big mama of a touring bike.

Sharon Edwards (R) lets Chris, a police officer, get a feel for one big mama of a touring bike.

"The most common mistake women make when they're shopping for a bike is to buy one too small," Sharon said as I hopped on a zippy Sportster, then a plush Softtail. She held the massive machines steady as I lifted them off their kickstands and put my feet up. She had me close my eyes and reach out for the handlebars to find my natural riding posture.The bike wasn't going anywhere, but behind my eyelids I saw miles of highway flashing under my tires. I got a rush. I was bitten by the motorbike bug---oh, I was bitten bad.

In the parts department, Garry Montague (L) showed us ways to make an awesome bike absolutely perfect for an individual rider.

In the parts department, Garry Montague (L) showed us ways to make an awesome bike absolutely perfect for an individual rider.

My new friends could easily tell from the way I hogged the customizable bike over in the parts department. They grinned and gave each other knowing nudges as Garry Montague had me try out some "mini-ape" handlebars. I felt like a complete and utter boss and had a hard time peeling myself off the model.

But by that time our glasses were all empty, so we made a quick pit stop at the wine tasting table. Then we were called to the motorclothes department. After all, what ladies night at the motorcycle outfitter would be complete without swag? Louise Hébert and her lovely assistants demonstrated the proper fitting for the most important accessory, the helmet, and we ooh-ed and aah-ed over some killer boots and butter-soft leather jackets for good measure.

Louise (R) proved that helmets can be just as cool as any studded jacket or thigh-high pair of boots.

Louise Hébert (R) proved that helmets are just as cool as any studded jacket or thigh-high pair of boots.

Our grand tour of Rossiter's was coming to a close, and I was feeling the pangs of impossible love. I wanted so badly to be one of these cool, confident women strolling around the showroom, talking lovingly about their bikes like they were Triple Crown thoroughbreds, about the hundreds of miles of road they'd be eating up over the weekend. Rossiter's was huge, but not so huge that a lovestruck new Harley enthusiast could hide out in a coat rack until everyone left and sit on motionless bikes to her little heart's content.

Then the stars aligned during the raffle. Guess who won a spot in a new rider's course and will be getting her motorcycle license in July? That's right. This guy. The amount of badassery my summer now holds simply boggles the mind. Rossiter's, I'm ready to rumble.

What are you looking forward to this summer? Share with the Scenestress in an e-mail, or on FacebookTumblr and Twitter.

Last modified: May 23, 2013
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