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Bike Week in Daytona Beach

Once winter hits Florida many people begin to tear down their Harley Davidsons or other types of motorcycles and prepare for Bike Week. Held the first weekend in March, Bike Week is a motorcycle enthusiast’s Mecca. Every type of motorcycle, whether Harley, custom, three-wheeler, chopper, and even lots of customized or antique cars come to Daytona Beach to enjoy fun in the later winter sun.

If you're looking to stay for the entire week of Bike Week, hopefully you made reservations for accommodations well in advance. Even the camp grounds on the mainland are often booked by late fall for the Bike Week extravaganza. Hotels on the beachfront are often booked from one year to the next by the same people. Many people find it best to stay a bit further away, perhaps in St. Augustine, Orlando, Deland, Deltona, New Smyrna Beach, or even Titusville or Cocoa Beach.

For us nearby Florida residents who aren’t free to take the week off and party, Bike Week can be a day trip. From my home, Daytona Beach is just an hour’s drive away. It’s easy enough to drive up in the morning and return late in the evening and avoid the high cost of lodging. Several trips during Bike Week are not unusual - plus we get the added benefit of checking the weather before we leave! You just can’t drink and drive or you could end up in jail! Or worse!! Even during Bike Week, drinking responsibly is important.

My best trips to Bike Week have been those that I rode up on a motorcycle or at least took the bike up in the back of a truck and unloaded it on the beach at Daytona Beach. I’ve had some fun visits where I drove up to Daytona also, but it’s not the same as being “in the wind”. Daytona Beach is the only beach where you can still drive on the sand beside the shore. There are two major hazards involved with parking on the sand that you need to be aware of and avoid: don’t get into the soft sugar sand or you will need a tow and don’t leave your vehicle of any kind parked close to the ocean unless you know you parked at the peak of high tide. Otherwise, the tide will rise and flood or wash your vehicle away. If you follow the crowd, you will be alright on both counts.

We ride up to Daytona Beach on Route US 1 for the scenic drive. Of course, you can get to Daytona quicker using I-95 as well. Once we reach Daytona Beach, we use US 92 to cross the Halifax River, which is part of the Inter-Coastal Waterway. Tunring east toward the beach, traffic begins to slow rather rapidly. Hundreds of thousands of people come from all over America and from many international locations, so prepare for a crowd!

Approaching the beach, traffic slows to a crawl and motorcycles are everywhere. The helmet law in Florida was repealed a few years ago, and now, provided you carry insurance per the new law, you can ride without a helmet. Almost no one is seen wearing a helmet during the slow crawl. Even those who wear a helmet on the highway remove them to enjoy the low-speed Daytona Beach crawl.

Interspersed between the bikes are street vendors selling their wares. Everything from food to t-shirts to motorcycle related ware of all kinds are available. You have to buy a t-shirt- or maybe several. In Florida generally speaking, the rule is not “how many miles to the bar”, but “how many bars to the mile”. Every bar is open and many of the popular spots have lines to get inside. Boot Hill Saloon, right on Main Street across from the cemetery, is a must-stop for t-shirts or just to see all the bras hung from the walls. Continuing down Main Street toward the sand there’s the famous Big Daddy Rat’s shop with his custom bike parked out front. Of course, everywhere bikes are parked side by side and close together. Groups sit on their bikes, drink beer and watching the traffic - both 2-wheel and 4-wheel - pass by. People watching is the second favorite sport during Bike Week.

Cruising down the beach access ramp finds more shops, vendors and motorcycles are everywhere. Once on the sand we join the many other bikes and notice all the vendors on the beach. There are snack vendors, beach rental vendors, balloon vendors, glow stick vendors, kite vendors - just about everything you can think of is sold on the beach side. A constant flow of motorcycles and cars travel both north and south on the beach. Volley ball, frisbee, and other sports are on the softer sand above the traffic line. Lots of people will be sunbathing as well.

We park on the beach, just off Main Street and near the Pier, placing the kickstand on a pad (square of wood) to prevent the kickstand sinking into the sand and tipping the bike. We talk to the groups around us and find lots of people who are friendly and interested in meeting people. We walk up the beach a while, enjoying the constant flow of traffic and people. We spot a bar with an outdoor patio so we stop for a soft drink. We have to wait for service, of course, because the place is packed! Someone leaves and we get lucky enough to find a seat. After sitting and relaxing a while we go back to check on the bike. Music is everywhere. Most bars have live music. On the beach people play guitars and other instruments. Radios can be heard where live entertainment is not available.

After people watching and motorcycle watching for a while, we decide to ride “the loop”. Riding off the beach, we find John Anderson Drive, just west of A1A, called Atlantic Avenue in town. We head north to Ormond Beach, viewing hotels, homes and of course, motorcycles and cars. In Ormond Beach, we turn west on Highbridge Road and cross the Inter-Coastal Waterway. Walter Boardman Road then connects us with US1. Once we reach US 1, known as Old Dixie Highway, we turn south and head to any of several places to cross over to the beachside. The most popular point to cross to the east is the southern most exit to the beach, marked as SR 40 and Dunlawton Avenue. This leads us to the beach where we turn north, returning to the location we had recently departed. “The loop” runs about 22 miles. All day and night motorcycles and cars will be seen making “the loop”. It’s a Bike Week Tradition.

I must warn you, as you wander the streets of Daytona Beach during Bike Week, especially on the beach side, don’t be surprised to hear someone call “Show me your boobs” or perhaps a similar, more graphic phrase. Don’t be surprised either, when the person who is being called to complies with the request. The law enforcement officers tend to turn their heads a bit to this tradition. Of course, use a little bit of sense and if you want to participate in that sort of thing, don’t do it in front of a cop!

While there’s a bike parade, swap meet, and motorcycle show available, we find fun strolling the pier and at beachside arcades. Restaurants and night clubs are everywhere. You'll find fast food right on up to the finest cuisine anywhere available in Daytona Beach. Many people bring grills and cook right on the beach. Many bars have cookouts that are both very good and very affordable.

Of course, during Bike Week there are drunken brawls, public drunks, many arrests, and people losing things or staggering about. However, if you go with the attitude that you will mind your own business and just have a good time, you will be perfectly safe if you use common sense. Don’t leave valuables where they can be stolen. Don’t mess with anyone’s motorcycle except your own. Don’t mess with the drunks. In all my years of visiting Bike Week, I have never experienced a difficulty by following these common sense rules.

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ARTICLES

Route A1A in downtown Daytona Beach

Route A1A  in Daytona Beach

 

Daytona Beach with cars parked on the beach

Daytona Beach Parking Lot

 

Seaside in Daytona Beach

Seaside in Daytona Beach

 

 

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