Dating back to 1937, Daytona Bike Week is one of, if not the largest bike rally in the world. Bikers, vendors, partiers and peoplewatchers converge on Daytona Beach, Florida and surrounding areas for 10 days of events, bike shows, parties, contests rides and much more. While it is extremely difficult to count the participation, well over half a million people attend the event each year.
This year is my first time to attend Daytona Bike Week. Jim Dugger, Director of Business Development for Bikers Welcome USA was kind enough to act as my guide this week, and has been taking me on some awesome rides already, making sure I witness all of the key stops for the event. His wife Tami loaned me her 2006 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail so I could take in the full experience. Jim rides a sweet 2001 Harley Fat Boy. Riding with Jim has been awesome. He has been attending Daytona Bike Week for over ten years. One of the advantages of having a local take you around is that you can take rides off the beaten path to get to the Bike Week locations, find the most advantageous parking, and avoid the most dense traffic (unless you want to be in it – like for the opening day ride down main street). The other advantage of having a local guide is that you don’t have to think too much about where you are going while riding, and can just keep up and take in the sights…or as many around here say, “Just Shut Up and Ride!”
This weekend was opening weekend. I wrote about the opening day ride I took on Friday with some other locals, as some events and locations like the start opening up on Friday. Most of the events kicked off Saturday, March 9. Jim and I got out on the road from Orlando around 7:30 am Saturday morning. The temperature was a cool 50 degrees, which feels more like 40 when riding, but with the right gear we were good to go. We rode about forty-five minutes to our breakfast destination, traveling through the woods down Maytown road. The road was practially empty, and the evergreen forest scenery was quite enjoyable. By the time we made it to breakfast at the Country Kitchen on US1, I had worked up quite an appetite. The place welcomes bikers, has friendly staff, generous portions and reasonable prices – just what we needed to fuel up for the rest of the day.
Once we finished breakfast, we continued down US1 with a loose objective of checking out anything that looked interesting and might provide some photos worth sharing with the Bikers Report audience. A couple of the pics will be in these articles, but check out the Daytona Bike Week Photo Gallery post for more. I will have to apologize in advance if any directions or locations are inaccurately reported…after all, I ain’t from around here, and if I keep asking Jim where we went, he will likely switch to his other personality as Sergeant-At-Arms and kick my a**. Anyway, the next place we stopped was The Last Resort, one of the regular establishments for Bike Week. We were too early to find much of a party there, but some of the vendors were already set up.
Next we made a quick stop at a parking lot up the road where the Central Florida Motorcycle Drill Team was performing. I captured a decent video of one of the shows, which I will post separately. Like many of the stops, there were vendors, bike builders and the like set up there as well. Boss Hoss Motorcycles had some seriously beefy bikes set up on display. We’re talking bikes with V6 and V8 engines. There were also quite a few trikes and other configurations that start to look more like mini-cars than motorcycles. Ok, they are pretty cool looking, but I think I will stick to the more minimal two-wheelers.
We passed a bunch of other smaller locations after that, but didn’t really see much happening at that hour, so we continued down US1 headed for Daytona beach area. Already hundreds of riders were beginning to spill out onto the roads. Our next stop was the major motorcycle manufacturer displays that were set up outside the Daytona Speedway. We had heard from one of our clients that Star Motorcycles was unveiling a new bike.
After walking around the Daytona Speedway area, it was starting to get really warm, so we decided it was time to head down to Main Street and find a cold beverage. To properly initiate me, Jim suggested we should ride down Main Street, which although massively crowded by this point, was reserved for motorcycle riders only. The crowds and parked motorcycles line both sides of the street by the time we got there. In slow parade fashion with hundreds of other bikers, we cruised Main Street one way, then turned around and cruised the other way before looking for a parking spot.
Once the bikes were safely parked in a secure lot, we began checking out the sights on Main Street. Foot traffic was intense, moving at a snails pace as we moved from spot to spot. I won’t bore you with the details of each and every place we visited, but let’s just say if you have ever been bar hopping in a tourist destination – well, you get the idea. While we don’t recommend drinking and riding, it is kinda hard to avoid while attending this kind of event. So, you have to keep in mind while bar hopping that eventually you will have to get on your motor and ride…or get a room if you can find one. here were numerous bands playing on Main Street, bikini contests, swag of every kind interesting to bikers to be found, and of course plenty of opportunity for people watching. I am continually amazed at the diversity that you find when bikers congregate.
By late afternoon we had pretty much seen the sights up and down Main Street and were ready to ride again. Getting out of the parking area and away from the main drag was fairly easy. It didn’t hurt that Jim knew the best route for escape either. We eased out to highway A1A which runs along the Atlantic coast and rode north for an hour or so to a two-story beach bar and restaurant called Finns. By this time the power in all my devices was exhausted so I don’t have any pics of this area for you, which is a shame, because the ride up A1A was quite picturesque.
The temp was dropping fast, and the wind was whipping through the second story while we munched on some quesadillas. The sun was about down and we were pretty much done ourselves, so it was time to head back to Orlando. I don’t know the road we took from A1A, but it was a nice, slow winding road that passed through a semi-swampy area with old-growth trees heavy with moss covering the road. We stopped a few times at convenience stores for coffee and a smoke break during the next couple hours. It was around 9:30pm by the time we rolled into the house, and I gotta say I was pretty whipped and my body felt like it was vibrating for some time. I fell asleep quickly after dinner, still hearing the “rolling thunder” in my head as I drifted off to sleep.
And this was only Day 2 of Daytona Bike Week…
Editor and Web Geek, Bikers Report