Finishing my coverage of the Wide-Open Bike Show in St. Louis, my better half and I had just enough time to get ourselves to our home in Tennessee, get the 5th wheel toyhauler loaded and head to Daytona for Bike Week. We had been going to Bike Week every year since ‘92. This year was the 65th Anniversary of the worlds largest motorcycle event. From the humble beginnings on the ocean front beach to the new mega Daytona Harley Dealership, this event has changed in a way the early participants could have never dreamed.
What started out as just one ‘Main Street' in the city of Daytona. ‘Bike Week 2006' now covers an area from Ormand Beach to the North, New Smyrna Beach to the South and Orlando stepping up trying to entice Bikers their direction. Motorcyclists coming from the frigid North are known to travel as far south as Key West in their quest for some golden sunshine.
With so many areas and business vining for the well-healed Bikers' dollars there is no way a person could go to all the events and happenings the area has to offer. The best way to enjoy your Bike Week experience is to know what you want to see and do, plan your days, leave some room for last minute changes and have a good time. I'm going to highlight some of the places that we have enjoyed and what I think the NTHEWIND Photography readers would like to see.
This year was the 2nd annual Deland Bike Rally. This is a one day only event! Held on Saturday, March 4th this worked out well for the early arrivals to the area. Deland closed Woodland Boulevard and Indiana Avenue allowing only Bike parking. With the streets blocked from the cars and Bikes lined on both sides of the street and down the middle, the town had a Sturgis type look. Venders lined the closed side streets, a live band rocked the crowd and there was a bike show with cash prizes. The main street is lined with great restaurants and are many different stores for shopping. I did not see one police officer with a ticket book in his hands, unlike another Main Street I know of. The town has done a great job with this event and I highly recommend it. The time is from 10:00am till 7:00pm. That leaves enough time to make a couple of other stops for the day.
Leaving Deland heading north on highway 17 there are a couple of good watering holes along the way. The first being OB's on the left and a little further north on the right, Trader Jacks.
No matter how far away you are staying, or what your taste in machinery is, no trip to Florida during Bike Week is complete without a trip to Main Street. Whether or not you choose to ride down the street and leave, or park your bike and join the crowd in a ‘Main Street Shuffle', this is a must do.
If you want to park your Bike in a secure lot, turn onto Halifax and right behind the convenience store is a fenced lot.(look for a large banner on the building that says ‘Waterloo's Place') Our friends Bobby and WP have been taking care of our HD's since our first trip and we wouldn't trust our bikes anywhere else.
Main street this year was the usual craziness, with the endless parade of machinery, both the two wheeled and four wheeled kind. I for one would like to see them only allow bikes down Main street, but then again who am I to tell ‘the powers to be'? The quality of bikes seemed to up this year, a lot of nice custom bikes made either the ride the down street or was parked on it. The choice in adult beverage suppler's start with the Boot Hill Saloon on the South end of the street with the Full Moon Saloon and Froggie's somewhere in between. On the North side there are several and Wise Guy's is a popular stop. The Wreak Bar also on the North side and located right on the water where the Main Street bridge dumps the in coming traffic to where all the activities are, this was the favorite place to girl watch. Right across the Wreak Bar was a good display of Custom Bike builders including the Indian Larry Legacy, Exile cycle and Billy Lane. Billy signed autographs and made himself available for photographs. He is truly a peoples person and a great guy. Vendors packed along both sides of the street sell the usual Biker wares. Corbin having the nicest and largest space. The local police were there as always, making sure all us Bikers behave.
For a little slower pace we always take a day to go to the Daytona Speedway. We've never been to a race there, but we go for the vendors. This is where most all the major manufactures display and offer demo rides, Harley Davidson, Honda, Victory, Kawasaki are a few. Some of the Custom Bike builders choose this location also. Around the outside of the track they have set up tents that house some very good high quality venders and accessory manufactures. They display and sell everything from helmets, leathers, boots, wheels and other stuff.
One of my favorite suppliers of bike tie downs are always there. M&R make and sell some of the best tie downs I have ever used. They not only manufacture tie downs but safety equipment for race cars also.
Although geared a little more toward the Gold Wing owners, the venders set up at the Sunshine Mall south from Daytona on Hwy 1 have enough stuff on display to justify making a stop there. There are usually several trike builders and trike conversions companies, pin strippers, seat companies and accessory light companies that will install their products while you wait.
Mike and Daisy owners of Mile High Enterprises were there. If you were at the Wide Open Bike Show in St. Louis you might remember them as having the vending trailer with all the cool Skull/Biker T's that covered the whole shirt. If you didn't remember the shirts, then maybe you'll remember all the Black Hills Gold jewelry they had.
Our longtime friends at Bushtec trailers make this their spot for Bike Week. If you ever think you might want a trailer to pull behind your bike, this is the company to look for. I bought one of their trailers in Sturgis in ‘92 and it has traveled about 60,000 miles since, and it still looks and handles like new.
When we leave the Sunshine Mall it's usually about time to get something to eat. We try to stay away from fast food and look for goodlocally owned places. There are two good choices from here, if you feel like you want a Biker Bar with great food and a live band just head south a mile or so to the Sly Fox. They have a great fish dinner and is priced right. If you're looking for something a little more quiet and would like to watch a sunset with your sweetie.
I'll pass one of my best keep secrets, and I'll share with all the NTHEWIND Photography readers. Head south to New Smyrna Beach and go to the Sea Harvest. It's right on the water, nothing fancy, but great fish and a wonderful view of the water.
From New Smyrna Beach you can pick up hwy 44 and head east and stop in the famous Gilly's Pub 44, they have something going on there every day, or travel back north on Hwy 1 and stop and check out the huge amount of parts stocked by Miller's Parts.
If you're into bike shows, there is no shortage of those this week. Some of the best are The Rat's Hole Chopper Hole and the Boardwalk Show. I choose to attend the Tropicana Tattoo Bike Show this year. It didn't have anything to with the fact that a cover girl from Hustler magazine was there, no sir, not me.
Every year we try to check out a few new places, just to make sure we don't fall into the exact same routine. This year we found a new place that had just opened. Called ‘A Wet Spot' Located just north of where hwy 40 intersects with Hwy 1. It's just far enough away from all the congestion that is just up the road where the Iron Horse and several other bars, but close to everywhere we wanted to be. We were able to park our bikes right at the deck where we ate. The food was home style and freshly cooked. We liked the bands and all the help was fantastic.
I've saved the biggest news and newest major attraction for last. Opened for business in time for Biketoberfest last year, but this being the first Bike Week. Bruce Rossmeyer's Destination Daytona is the worlds largest Harley Davidson Dealer.
Located north of Daytona Beach on Interstate I-95 and Highway 1, exit 273. This cannot be called just a dealership, like the name says, it's a ‘Destination'. The parking area is large enough it needs a tram to ferry you to the complex, and it reminds me of Disney Land, a Disney Land for Bikers.
The main building is advertized as having 109,000 square feet. That is about the same as a department store at a mall. Like a department store, this dealership has two levels and an escalator to carry you to the second floor. Unlike any department store I've ever seen, Rossmeyer, has filled the space with everything Harley Davidson has put a bar and shield logo on. If you have seen it in a catalog they had it there. Complete bars to shot glasses, bar signs and bar stools, pool tables to pool accessaries, from metal signs to neon signs. The clothing department carried the complete Harley line. Every piece of leather, shirts, belts, ties, boots, rain gear, was available in all sizes.
Another added touch was the museum quality displays of old Harleys. One of my favorite was three bikes, two in the back were vintage HD racers and the one in the front was a newly built machine by Rook Customs made to look similar to the racers of yesteryear. It was a very nicely done.
Looking on the walls above all the merchandise an artist named Perego had painted murals all around the building. I saw history in the making, he was working inside of an image of the outside of the building. Perego and his commercial work is in theme restaurants, corporate offices and trendy nightclubs across the country. This added touch by Rossmeyer shows to me his commitment to provide a quality environment for his customers.
Outside Rossmeyer provided a place for venders. I found one of the vendors from the Wide-Open Show in St. Louis, Doc Bailey's Leather Black. They were giving out free shoe shines and selling their excellent product. Drag Specialties had a nice corner booth and a cool bike that caught my eye. Zippo lighter had an unusual car that was made to look like two of their lighters together. These venders and many other bike builders had products on display. Large tents held a show Expo featuring bikes built by Ron Finch, Billy Lane, the late Indian Larry and others. A Hotel is already built and was already filled to capacity and a Loves Truck Stop is under construction.
Daytona Bike Week, it can mean many different things to the people that attend. For many it can be party central and they make the rounds to as many bars as possible, I'd like to thank my favorite bar tender, Michele, for remembering my favorite beverage and keeping my glass full. For some it's about the shows and custom machinery, they might be looking for ideas for their own project. The Daytona Speedway is a major attraction for the sport bike crowd. For everybody that comes in from the north, the weather is a major draw, even a cool night of riding beats a snowy afternoon at home. At least one trip to Main Street is a must do for anybody that comes to the area..
With all the bikes, babes, booze and sunshine there is still one thing that is the most important thing of all, the tread that ties us all together, the comradery that comes with being a Biker .And that is the friends you make the bonds you form. On this note I'd like to give a thank you to some people we only see once a year, Bobby and WP, Dennis and Lisa, and Lee and Barb. Barb hang in there, we'll see ‘ya next year.