Daytona Bike Week

Who knows what motivates people do things?   Logically, it was foolish, given the fact that early morning temperatures had been hitting in the 30° range.  Too, a decision was rendered from a conversation happening four days earlier that caused Gary (brother-in-law) and I to plan a last minute motorcycle trip  to Bike Week in Daytona, Florida.  Neither of us are big crowd people but the idea of a long ride was certainly intriguing.

Figuring hotels would be non-existent at that late date, we reserved some "Kabins" at a couple of KOA Kampgrounds.

So, with bikes packed up, we fired up on at sunrise Thursday morning, cut through the swamps and by the time we arrived at the Hammond, Louisiana exit, our hands were burning with cold.   After warming up with a cup of coffee, we continued on east into Mississippi where we stopped often for thawing and a nicotine break for Gary.  Each time we stopped, we would meet other riders headed to the same event.  At one stop, we met a guy whose enthusiasm for a week in Daytona was really overflowing.  We chatted with him a while and as we left, he handed us a business card with his name on it (bikers seem to be getting into business cards these days) and told if we wanted to party and hook up, to look for him.  He'd be wearing a furry white helmet with horns on it......oh yeah, I'll be looking (out) for him for sure.

The first day was somewhat uneventful and we arrived at our reserved KOA Kampground near Chattahoochee, Florida.  Certainly, not the Hilton but it beats having to throw up a tent then take it down and pack it back up if it's wet the next morning.

The next morning, we hit the road early again with temperatures still hardly any better in the early hours.  At a rest stop east of Tallahassee, we stopped for a break where Gary leaned up against his bike and it fell over.  Picking it up, we discovered he had broken a bolt on the right rear shock. It was absolutely nothing to do with maintenance error but just one of those times when road stress took it's toll.  His bike is much younger than mine with less road miles on it.

  We thought about riding on to a repair shop but the tire was rubbing the fender, so now he was immobile.  We had packed open end wrenches, socket sets, screwdrivers, Allen wrenches and even 8 point star sockets.  We had enough tools to overhaul a bike but we needed one thing......we needed a drill to remove the broken stub of the bolt.

Not knowing where any parts or hardware store was located, I began roaming the countryside until I located one in Monticello.  There, I bought a rechargeable drill and bargained with the store to charge it up for me while I went back to find Gary and determine what size bolt we would need.  I took the broken part out and headed back to the Ace Hardware where I retrieved the charged up drill and a couple of grade 8 bolts and some reverse drill bits.

Anyway, after getting back to Gary at the rest stop, where he drilled out the broken stud, we were on the road within 45 minutes and arrived in St. Augustine before dark.

Saturday morning we made the short ride down to Daytona.  As we expected, the road was full of bikes headed that way.  Arriving in Daytona, Main Street was already lined with bikes with no place to park unless we wanted to shell out $7 for the privilege.  We rode around a  couple of times before heading out to the interstate to Bruce Rossmeyer's Harley dealership, arguably the largest in the world.  It along with satellite stores selling anything from leather to Triumph Motorcycles covered acres. 

Back behind that, J & P Cycles has one of their only two brick and mortar stores.  To some, J & P is the holy of holies when it comes to motorcycle parts stores.  You could literally build your own bike from parts out of that store.  All this represented a bigger attraction than the downtown event. 

While Daytona Bike Week is not as wild and crazy as Sturgis, it does have it's sights and curiosities.  One major difference between the two is the type of biker they attract.  While Harley riders are the dominant group, Daytona pulls in the metric rider crowd, with Hondas, Yamahas and Kawasakis. 

It only took a day of these maddening crowds to make us consider
getting back home.  Originally, we had planned on taking two days but checking the weather conditions, we saw a line of thunderstorms and a cold front with it that made us think that a 13 hour ride was a doable thing.

With that in mind, we rode and rode and rode, arriving back home about 9:00 p.m. that night, tired and saddle sore from the experience.  I'm thinking around 680 miles that day.

We even forgot to buy a T-shirt.