Thursday, April 1, 2010

A few random Daytona thoughts

It’s been almost a month now since I was at Bike Week in Daytona – plenty of time to let my observations ferment a bit so that I can make a few well-considered comments on the experience. Aw hell, who am I kidding? I could have written this the day I got back but I’ve been procrastinating.
I’m not an experienced rally goer, and I’m not interested in the party-party-party culture (too old, too smart), so what I take away from a rally may be quite different than what others would look for. Regardless, here are some of my thoughts.
Driving into the city the first thing I noticed were the signs - “We’re glad you’re back” and “Please ride quietly”. Kind of like saying “Welcome to my home. Please don’t piss on the carpet.” Certainly not unreasonable IMO. Of course the signs meant nothing to those yahoos who made up for their anatomical shortcomings by rattling windows with their straight pipes and throttle blipping at every intersection. Absolutely unnecessary and the surest way to get those “We’re glad you’re back” signs changed to “Go away” as has happened in Myrtle Beach and elsewhere.
While Sturgis is predominantly a Harley/tourer scene, Daytona was much more varied in terms of bikes. extended swingarmWalking down Main Street you would see everything from full dressers to sports bikes with that weird extended back end that seems all the rage with poseurs and drag-racer wannabe’s. So there was a pretty good mix and something to look at for just about every interest.
Of course Main Street is also bar central, so in the evening it was packed with riders, watchers, drinkers, and the usual “characters” these events tend to attract. Even though it was quite a cold night when we were there (upper 50’s) that didn’t keep the bars from having the requisite underwear-clad hostesses out on the sidewalk trying to entice more customers into their already overcrowded premises. (Please forgive a chauvinist aside here, but exactly when did pot-bellies on otherwise slim and attractive 20-somethings become sexy?) And it was loud!
Daytona aerialOne of the major venues was at the Daytona International Speedway where most of the vendors were set up, along with demo rides by the manufacturers. I don’t know how many vendors were there, but we spent the better part of a day at the Speedway and never did get to the metric side of the exhibit area. Bottom line: if it wasn’t there, you didn’t need it. But most impressive for me was to go into the infield of the Speedway itself. Having only ever seen it on television I had no idea it was so huge. Being in the middle of a 2 1/2 mile oval, looking up (and I mean UP) the 31 degree banked track and across at the grandstands (which hold 170,000 but seem a fraction of that size in the overall scale of the place) make one feel quite insignificant. 
And then, of course, no visit to Daytona would be complete without a stop at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson. Billed as the world’s largest H-D dealership, Rossmeyer’s is overload central when it comes to all things Harley. And if you can’t find it at Rossmeyer’s, J&P Cycle is just next door. Getting out of that complex with credit card intact (i.e. not worn out) required a superhuman strength of will. I’ll be posting a few pics from both places in another entry in a few days.
So it was a whirl-wind day and a half we spent there, and I expect we experienced but a small portion of what was going on. But it was enough to convince me that I’d like to go again and spend a little more time on the ground. And hopefully, when I do, the weather will be more typical of a March in Daytona than this year’s freezing conditions.

10 comments:

  1. I would love to go to Bike Week in Daytona. Here in the UK our bike shows and rallies all tend to be very small and even the large ones are nothing compared to what you have described for Daytona. I suppose I cannot whinge too much, for a do get to go to Sturgis this year.... I enjoyed reading about you Daytona trip though.... I know exactly what you mean about being too old, too smart, but it would be good to experience it just once....

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  2. Gary - I didn't really give Daytona a fair shake as I was only there for a short time, but from what I saw I much preferred Sturgis. Certainly the weather in SD in the summer is better than Fla in February, but the riding in SD around Sturgis is spectacular. I expect you'll love it.

    But still, like you say, if you get a chance it's good to experience it just once.

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  3. My father-in-law who lives in Orlando keeps trying to get me to come out there for Bike week. It is just not a good time for me to get off from work, but I will one of these years. He says it is really big and seems to continue to spread up and down the coast.

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  4. motoroz - You should go. Even if you only do it once, it a great experience. And it's only about an hour from Orlando, so you could even commute from there if so inclined.

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  5. Excellent post! It's still my dream to go to Daytona. I've followed the racing there ever since Gary Nixon won on a Triumph 500 in 1967, breaking Harley domination.

    That's also an indictment regarding my age :-(

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  6. Geoff - Thanks for the comment. And as for your age, I too can (sometimes) remember back that far. LOL

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  7. Dear Canajun:

    My friend Jim Ellenberg was at Daytona with Chris Carr... Both of these guys busted my balls to come, but the income wouldn't stretch that far this year.

    Regarding the guys with the loud pipes... Everyone rides a motorcycle for a different reason. Fair enough. And it cannot be denied that motorccles come with an image. And as a guy who likes to stretch the law every now and again, I understand the allure of speed. And while nothing sounds as hot as a bike motor in great tune tickling the red line — I do not understand the straight pipe business. That noise would give me a headache every time I rode.

    And it is like an advertisement for having a small dick.

    Fondest regards.
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

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  8. Jack - I don't get the straight pipes thing either. A nice deep-throated rumble of a big twin, or the wail of a high-revving 4 cylinder are all sounds that can be enjoyed without being offensive.
    As it is, between the wind noise and my stock exhaust I still need earplugs lest my tinnitus go nuts on me.

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  9. Good to see that you said Sturgis is better, I had originally thought of going to Daytona instead, looks like I made the right decision for next year.
    As far as loud pipes are concerned I'm afraid they are a feature of rallies in SA, loud revving and popping right through the night, not easy to sleep!

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  10. Andrew - That's the right decision in my opinion. Besides the riding around Sturgis is spectacular - Florida is just flat swampland for the most part.

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