A rainy day seems like a good time to wash the stinky socks that have been collecting around the hotel room and update the MO faithful on what’s been going on here at Daytona Bike Week. As MO readers, you’re probably already aware I’ve been testing new motorcycles during the first half of Bike Week. Just in case you’ve been slacking for the past few days, here’s the executive summary with a little local flavor thrown in.
Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles both introduced new bikes last weekend. Harley stepped up first on an unseasonably cold, occasionally drizzly, day that had temperatures hovering between 48 and 53 degrees. Most of the journalists attending the Low Rider and SuperLow ride (myself included) were lulled into a false confidence by the previous days’ weather and left their warm riding gear in the hotel. At the gas stop, we were all clutching our coffee cups in cold, stiff hands as if our lives depended on it, and while on the road, riders could be seen occasionally laying their hands on the cylinders for warmth. Hey, at least we looked good in our photos.
Victory Motorcycles obviously made a timely sacrifice to the gods because the next day the weather was ideal for riding. Sunny, warm weather greeted us for our day with the Gunner. The route took us past several well known Bike Week locations, including the Cabbage Patch and the Volusia County Fairgrounds. However, the high point of the day, for me, was the lunch stop at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, a park I’d visited 26 years ago on my first cross-country motorcycle trip. We gathered inside an old sugar mill around tables with built-in griddles and cooked our own, all-you-can-eat pancakes. And eat we did, adding significantly to our road-holding weight.
On Saturday, Allstate unveiled a custom Victory Vegas 8-Ball created by noted customizer Rick Fairless. This is the fifth year that Allstate has offered a custom bike as its sweepstakes prize. The winner will get Fairless’ bike and a trip to Strokers Dallas for a personalized paint consultation by Fairless himself. I had the opportunity to interview Fairless on Saturday, and he’s quite the character with some strong feelings about the future of customizing and his love of the motorcycle industry. Look for the interview here, soon.
Elsewhere in Daytona, it’s been a busy, action-packed week. The AMA Supercross saw Ryan Villopoto win his third race of the season. However, some controversy over an altercation between Malcolm Stewart and Justin Barcia during the Supercross main has led to Stewart being fined $5000 and being put on probation for the remainder of the season.
The demo rides are humming along with eager riders showing up first thing in the morning while the rest of the Bike Week celebrants sleep off their collective hangovers. The vendor area at the Speedway is crowded with attendees, but somehow, there don’t seem to be as many vendors on site. Perhaps this is just because of change of location to the east end of the Speedway due to the ongoing construction of the new stands and other facilities that is under way.
I had an interesting conversation with a Daytona Beach motor cop last night. Since I haven’t been here for a few years, I decided to check with him about my feeling that, in my three visits to Main Street this year, the scene seemed more subdued than in the past.
He said that attendance felt light to him, too – particularly since the weather has been so good. He believes this is because lots of other nearby communities are upping their efforts to attract Bike Week participants (and their money), with the result being that the fun is spread out over a larger area rather than concentrated on Main Street and nearby venues.
So, even if more people are here, it doesn’t feel like it. The activity that remains on Main Street is just as colorful and entertaining as it ever was, with lots of guys and girls trying to attract the attention of the masses.
The sad truth about any large gathering of motorcyclists is that there will be accidents – particularly at events with alcohol involved. To date, two Bike Week fatalities have been reported in Volusia County and one in nearby Flagler County. One of the three accidents is the result of a car/motorcycle collision that is still under investigation. The other two deaths were the result of the motorcyclist riding off the road and striking an object. Alcohol is being investigated in one in which another of the rider’s friends crashed simultaneously.
Regardless of the cause, this kind of news takes some of the fun out of the Bike Week festivities. Be safe out there, and stay tuned for our Bike Week Wrap-Up article early next week.