Daytona Bike Week, that annual orgy of motorcycle excess, is upon us. So, we thought we’d take this opportunity to point out some of the must-see events that will be taking place over the next week or so. Many of these events are what keep bikers returning to Daytona Beach year after year, but sadly, not all of our favorites will be taking place in 2014. Case in point, the insanely fun motorcycle demolition derby at the New Smyrna Speedway is not on the calendar this year. We can always hope for 2015.
Finally, though most of the Bike Week shenanigans are best viewed through a pair of beer goggles, we highly recommend that you leave your bike at the hotel if you choose to wear them.
What’s a week-long celebration of motorcycles without some gut-busting food? After all, you’ve got to fuel your activities, right? We’ll just call it road-holding weight. So, while much of the Bike Week scene takes place around Main Street and its bars and restaurants, don’t forget to check out dining establishments outside of the epicenter. You’ll find everything you could possibly want, from five star dining to little hole in the wall fish shacks that fit like a comfortable shoe. You’ll also discover that the prices drop as you get a little bit away from Daytona Beach proper. Still, you haven’t really experienced Bike Week until you’ve scarfed down some street vendor food while serenaded by an orchestra of straight pipes. Can anyone say funnel cakes!
Just don’t forget to pack the antacid.
9. Collect Rude Helmet Stickers
We’ve all seen those obnoxious helmet stickers on riders who are much cooler than us, like “Wear This Helmet Under Protest!” Well, Bike Week looks like a convention of rude helmet sticker retailers. While most of the vendors have the same (tired cliches?) selection of quotes, if you take the time to really look, you can find some gems.
8. Cabbage Patch Coleslaw Wrestling
For reasons we’ll never quite understand, coleslaw wrestling at the Cabbage Patch is a Bike Week institution over the past quarter century. But the story goes back further than that. Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch in Samsula, FL has been a part of Bike Week since Olga Weber opened the cabbage fields adjacent to her father’s tavern in 1958. The rest, as they say, is history.
Here’s a little slice of Americana that must be seen to be appreciated – if not completely understood. Picture this: Two scantily clad women attempting to pin each other to the mat while standing in a vat of freshly made coleslaw. Yep, that’s it. But there’s so much more. There’s the “accidental” revealing of various female body parts, and then there’s the beer-goggled audience that is almost as fun to watch as the wrestlers. However, you’d probably want them to keep their clothes on.
Find out more about the world famous Cabbage Patch at its website.
7. Illicit Street Racing
It’s a story as old as human social interaction: Whenever there is a large gathering of people, someone eventually needs to prove that he really is better than someone else. In the case of Bike Week, we can think of no better example of this phenomenon than the late-night, illegal street racing that takes place every year on the backroads outside of Daytona Beach. These guys have smack talk down to a science, negotiating everything from who gets to start first to how long the race will be. Even if you don’t get to see any racing itself, you can spend a great evening watching this unusual form of moto-courtship.
The challenge for newbies is finding where the street racers are gathering. Because it is more than a little bit illegal, the participants don’t advertise where they’ll be organizing their free-form racing. First, there’s the whole going 150 mph on public roads – in the pitch black dark. Next, there’s the whole gambling component that fuels street racing. If you do catch up with the street racing carnival, try not to act/look like a cop.
6. Custom Bike Shows
Bike shows and Bike Week go together like bikers and beer. You really can’t have one without the other. Daytona Bike Week 2014 has a seemingly endless list of bike shows from the historically significant to the just getting started. Perhaps the most famous show is the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show which will be celebrating its 42nd year on March 15th. Volusia County Fairgrounds will be hosting a bike show just about every day with each day featuring a different class of motorcycle. Categories will include: Antique, British/European, Metric Cruiser, Rat Bike, Shovel Head, and Side Car & Trike. The rat bike category is perhaps the most fascinating. Rat bikers travel from across the globe to participate in the several shows throughout the week. These bikes must be seen to be appreciated.
Motorcycle.com is taking part in a bike show this year by being the sponsor of the Best Unique Bike class in Kawasaki’s Bike Nite in the Daylite show. We’ll be at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday, March 14th from noon to 3:00 pm participating with the show and visiting with our MO peeps. If you have a unique Kawasaki, you could win the above trophy and an iPad. The show is open to any Kawasaki owner. See our previous news item for more information.
5. Black Bike Week
Formed in the late ’40s, Black Bike Week has grown from a small (and unfortunately, necessary, thanks to segregation) side event to a solid gathering in its own right. Although the street name has changed from Second Avenue to Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd., the flavor remains more laid back. However, don’t think that this means that Black Bike Week is boring. Instead, it retains much of its homegrown charm of previous eras’ Bike Week celebrations – when compared to the main Bike Week’s tendency to be overrun by corporate sponsored commercialism designed to empty wallets. While you won’t find the mayhem that sometimes overtakes Main Street, Black Bike Week still centers on our favorite two-wheeled vehicles. Touring rigs line up with cruisers, next to Harleys and stretched sportbikes (before their late night illicit street racing) for multi-denominational motorcycling fun. So, if you have a fondness for down-home food, music (hip-hop and old-school funk), and a more family-oriented motorcycle environment, head on over to Black Bike Week. Everyone is welcome.
4. Demo Rides
One of the best things about Daytona Bike Week is that most of the major manufacturers have a presence at the event, giving riders an opportunity to look at all of the current model bikes. Most offer an opportunity to demo them, too. While you won’t get to set any land speed records on the demo ride, you do get the chance to feel what the bike is like out on the road. Our advice is that if you are really hot to ride one particular model, show up early in the morning to register – the newest, highest demand bikes get booked up early.
While there are demo rides in other locations, the Daytona International Speedway is the epicenter of demo ride activity. Make sure you bring proper riding gear (meaning at least a DOT-approved helmet) and a valid motorcycle endorsement. If you really fall for a bike, you might want to have your checkbook handy, too.
3. Main Street After Dark
They say that the crazies come out at night and that the full moon brings out the craziest. Well, this year’s Bike Week is timed to end just as the moon goes full, so expect the excitement to build all week. If you’re looking for mayhem, Main Street Daytona Beach should be at the top of your list. The gravitational pull of Main Street seems to draw in every attention-seeking biker within a 100-mile radius. And then there are the onlookers, many fueled by bottomless supplies of beer from the local bars, who help the energy reach critical mass in an orgiastic conflagration of sweaty, leather-clad bodies, straight pipes, smoking tires, and police giving tickets in attempt to keep the whole scene from exploding in a chain reaction.
Yeah, it’s pretty fun. Go there.
Although Daytona Bike Week used to center around motorcycle racing, in recent decades, the competitive events that involved trained professionals (and not bikinis with cabbage in uncomfortable places) have taken a back seat for most attendees. That doesn’t mean that you can’t see some great two-wheeled competition. The week begins on Saturday, March 8th with the AMA Supercross event at the Daytona International Speedway. This is by far the best-attended racing event of the week and has been the scene of some truly epic battles over the years. Who can forget the 2008 mud race?
Located just outside of Daytona Turns 1 and 2, the quarter-mile flat track never fails to entertain motorcycle racing fans. Thursday, March 13th, sees the AMA Flat Track series make its first of two days of bar-to-bar sideways racing. While the speeds may not be as high as on the mile-long venues, the racing is as close and as intense as it gets. A must see!
Although a shadow of its former self, the Daytona 200 is still an amazing spectacle to watch. Any motorcycle race long enough to have pit stops is gonna be good, and the best racers that the country has to offer never fail to make it a good show. This is the last year the 200 will run with 600cc sportbikes, as the Superbike class returns in 2015, hopefully recapturing some of the glory of its roots. Practice for the 200 begins on Thursday, March 13th with the main event taking place on Saturday, March 15th at 1:00 pm.
1. People Watch
If Bike Week were a TV show, it would be called Those Amazing Humans. Daytona seems to bring out all that is good, horrifying and just extremely odd in human behavior. For those of us who like to observe the folks we encounter, Daytona offers a smorgasbord of innocent and guilty pleasures. From the people fawning over the unobtanium custom bikes to the equally modified and unobtainable women on display, Daytona Bike Week offers an unfiltered view into the collective id of American motorcyclists. As an experiment, just plant yourself on any fairly busy corner in Daytona for a half hour next week and count the number of characters you see. You won’t regret it. In fact, you’ll realize that all nine of the previous must-do activities are much more enjoyable with a healthy dose of people watching.
Have fun at Bike Week!