"If I'm going to Daytona, I'm taking a bike", declared Tom. With that, the decision was made to drive to Daytona, rather than fly. My sister-in-law had graciously offered us the use of her time-share ocean-front condo for the week. Located on New Smyrna Beach, it's just 20 minutes south of Daytona. How could we pass it up?
|Nick, Tom, Dan and Jim at a park on the way to the Classic Bike Show.|
Preparations included digging the trailer out of a deep snow bank, and finding some way to melt the ice off of it. Finally, the day came to leave for the trip. It took some logistical planning to avoid the glare ice that covered my driveway while we loaded the bikes. The roads were in terrible shape, and we bounced over freeway potholes all through Chicago. There was snow on the ground well into central Indiana, and Tom, Peggy and I drove through the night into Florida.
|"Alligator bike" on Main Street Daytona|
Arriving in the morning, we were welcomed by bright sunshine, t-shirt warmth, green grass, trees, and palms. Looking out onto the ocean waves from the condo's balcony made the whole trip suddenly seem worthwhile. I didn't really realize how much I needed to get out of our long and grueling Wisconsin winter until that point!
After a several hour nap, Tom Rasman and I hopped on the bikes (it felt sooo good) and took a ride up to Daytona. Of course, there were bikes all over the place and many roadside bar/vendor events going on. When we hit Daytona, the noise level in town was more than I had ever heard in Milwaukee during a Harley homecoming event. Both of our Triumphs ran great despite their long winter sleep, adding a much-need air of British civility. (Oh look- there's another Harley!)
|Main Street, Daytona|
We stopped at Daytona International Speedway, and looked at lots of new and old-school choppers for sale. We noted that you could enter the infield for free during bike week. Later on, Peggy and I sat for hours on a pier in the infield, overlooking Lake Lloyd and watching ARMHA bikes race off the infield track and down the back straits, disappearing high into turn 3. Awesome
Off we went to the Volusia County dirt track to watch bike races for the evening. They had a prize for whoever traveled the most distance to get to the races. One fellow from Alaska claimed to have trucked his bike to Minneapolis, and rode it down from there in the miserable freezing weather we were having up-north. Bulls**t! Fortunately, the prize went to some guys from Finland who told no such tall tales.
|Trike on Main Street Daytona|
Other activities during the week included a ride up highway A1A along the ocean to St. Augustine and back, riding the famed back road "loop" north of Daytona, and taking a scenic group ride with the "Daytona 200" motorcycle club (established in 1943 - great group of guys). There were tall jack pine forests with palmetto palms covering the forest floor, and long clumps of moss hanging from hardwood trees. I was startled to see Black Angus cattle in an open meadow, standing around a single palm tree. May be its just me, but cattle and palm trees make about as much sense as a full-dress bagger on a motocross track.
According to my brother-in-law, we had to see coleslaw wrestling at the Cabbage Patch. We weren't sure we were at the right place when we stopped at the parking lot, so I asked the attendant what event this was. "This is Cabbage Patch, this is where you want to be" he assured us, so we paid and parked. On the way in some grinning guy told us "I seen so many titties today, I tell you what!" Peggy was already there, and she had taken quite a few pictures of the festivities, some of which Wal-Mart wouldn't even print (but we do have the digital images). She showed us where the topless body painting was going on, and gave us a tip on buying beer. It's cheaper at the stands with fully-clothed women, by as much as $2 a bottle! Buy your beer from the nice ladies and then watch the other guys buy beer from the bikini babes. I can't say any more that can be printed in a public newsletter.
On Thursday, my son drove down from Gainesville to visit us and to take in the Main Street experience. A constant parade of bikes, wet t-shirt contests, and ladies serving beer with pricing similar to the Cabbage Patch - good times. Jim Cutting and his buddy Nick met us on Main Street, and stayed with us in the condo for a couple nights. Thanks to Jim for giving Peggy an all-day ride in his Watsonian sidecar, and congratulations to Tom's '69 Bonneville for winning a first-in-class trophy at a classic bike show. The day ended with getting caught in the rain and one-inch-size hail (we pulled over at that point - it hurt and Nick didn't have his helmet with him). I won't tell about the sensitive spot the hail hit Tom, as I promised not to. No worries, he was right as rain after a few gin and tonics.
It ended too soon. It was the first time I'd been there, or even taken a winter vacation to a warmer climate. Good for the soul! Ride free