T minus 7 / March 3rd – So, here we are now just 7 wake-ups from riding down to Daytona Beach for bike week.
From a logistical standpoint, the only real change is that nearly any chance of securing a condo has dropped to about zero, never mind finding hotel accommodations for the second weekend. As I suspected, the better option would have been heading down for the first weekend on Saturday and heading home Tuesday, as all indications are that the really big crowds will be on the latter half & second weekend of Bike Week.
You might ask, what makes me say that? Well, for one thing, just looking at Hotwire tonight I can see where the vacancy rate this weekend (5-8 March) is 45%, whereas next weekend (10-13 March) all but 5% of the available rooms are booked. Yes, you read that correctly, 95% of the available rooms in Daytona Beach have been booked for next weekend and the price difference is about 100%.
Case in point, the room we stayed in last spring at the Shores Resort & Spa for $189/night is now $324/ave night this weekend and $692/ave night next weekend, plus 12% for taxes and the daily resort fee. Pretty insane, but as we noted last week, it’s the 75th anniversary of Bike Week in Daytona Beach and they’re expecting a huge turnout. For context, Sturgis claimed 1.2 million visitors for their 75th anniversary last August, where average turn-out in previous years was around 400k.
So, as my excitement has given way to some anxiety over just how much impact that many people may have on our ability to get around, find parking and get into venues and restaurants, here’s what’s left to do before we go:
- Lodging: There’s no sense in shopping around, as our $287/night “just in case” hotel reservation at the Hampton Inn – Daytona Shores for 10-13 March is looking like a pretty good deal at the moment. We still have up and until 6:00pm on 7 March to cancel, but that’s looking pretty unlikely. In fact, we may have been fortunate to have booked a room with two queen beds, as some friends may need to crash with us at the Hampton given the lack of other reasonably priced accommodations.
- Work: I think I’m going to pretty much delegate and disappear for a week. Yup, even though we’re not headed to Florida until Thursday, I’m thinking about taking off Monday – Wednesday just to burn off some vacation as I’ve got 398 hours on the books and accrue 14 a month against a cap of 400 hours. Taking it down to 358 hours will keep me out of trouble for a few months. And, sadly, I’ll have my work phone and laptop because that’s just how it has to be anymore: no one has a lot of bench depth in leaned-out organizations and ours is very leaned-out.
- Prepping Blue: Still need to install some ‘special equipment’ on Blue II this weekend, but that should only take about an hour. Other than that, she’s ready to roll. The fluids are all still fresh and we’ve logged enough miles to activate the Extended Service Plan.
- Weather Watch: As expected, the long-range outlook for 10-13 March has improved dramatically during the past week. Here’s what it looked like on 28 Feb:
As of tonight, and noting that it could change as much or more in the next week, here’s the outlook for all 10 days of Bike Week, with emphasis on 10-13 March:
As I said, I think the accommodations we have are the ones we’ll be using and we may or may not have roommates. It’s been a long time since we’ve shared a hotel room, but I’m sure we’ll adapt and can work out a “Do Not Disturb” schedule since we tend to spend a good hour or so on our 3-mile walks along the beach.
However, the current source of my anxiety is imagining places like the Iron Horse Saloon, Destination Daytona, the Cabbage Patch and even the Loop Ride with a lot more bikers than we’ve previously encountered at Bike Week. We’ve gotten used to 30 minute waits at restaurants over the past couple years with only 400k – 500k in attendance, if that number is increased even by 50%, that’s a lot more people!! One of my always upbeat and half-full friends quipped, “the more the merrier.” Geez, I wish I was that guy!
Anyway, I think my anxiety will give way to cautious optimism as soon as I’m not in the office next Monday and can spend some time working around the house before we head down to Daytona early on Thursday morning. I think we’ll have a few friends with us so it should be a pretty good time right from the git-go!
Key points of interest on our list will include:
- Finn’s Rooftop Bar at Flagler Beach
- The Loop Ride
- Skips Western Wear (hello Misty!)
- Iron Horse Saloon & Neighboring Places
- Beach Street Venue & Michele Smith’s booth
- Speedway Venue & Custom Dynamics
- The Cabbage Patch
- Main Street & People Watching
- The Oyster Pub
- The Ocean Deck Restaurant & Bar
- The North Turn
- Long Morning Walks on Daytona Beach