1,100 miles, 6 friends, 4 days and 3 nights made for a really enjoyable and much-needed road trip. This one just happened to use the 75th Annual Bike Week in Daytona Beach as the catalyst and destination, but quite frankly we could have gone anywhere on the big bikes with our friends and had a grand time.
Seriously, we can go anywhere with our closely knit collection of friends who share our passion for life and motorcycles and have a wonderful time, even if it’s just a few miles from the house. However, being able to get in some “knees-in-the-breeze” therapy over four back-to-back days of purely recreational activity is certainly something we look forward to. Add in warm, sunny days with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop and you have an extra-special time. After all, there’s nothing like starting off your day enjoying a beautiful sunrise off your bedroom balcony followed by a 3-mile walk on the beach. In fact, it’s something I could probably get used to doing just about every morning and that’s something to think about!
As for being at the 75th Annual Bike Week in Daytona Beach, motorcycle rallies always seem to take on a life of their own as we move from one venue to the next to enjoy meals, music or just being in the moment with our friends. So, it doesn’t really matter if we’re in Daytona or Panama City Beach so long as we can have “fun in the sun” and arrive home safely each night: don’t ever take that for granted!
Again, I don’t know that there was anything special about Daytona this time around, despite all of the hype and promotions surrounding the 75th annual event. And, while the local occupancy rates would have suggested record-setting crowds would be on hand, it sure seemed to have the lowest turn-out I’ve seen compared to our four previous visits, something a few of the vendors and folks working behind the bars confirmed. The organizers are pushing back hard on anyone who says otherwise, but I’d say the turn-out for the four previous bike rallies we’ve attended in Daytona – including the fall rallies – has been in a state of consistent decline and this year’s spring rally had even fewer guests than the fall rally a few years ago when the weather was iffy.
The latter is a mixed blessing in that we really didn’t encounter any overwhelming crowds, massive traffic jams, parking capacity issues or long waits at restaurants. Traffic was actually moving well up and down Main Street, along AIA, and International Speedway Boulevard. In fact, Route 1 in Ormond Beach was only backed up the final ¼ mile to the pedestrian crosswalks between the venues so I’m hardly complaining… it all worked out well for us!
Although I’ll expand on it in my Post Script in Part III of this Bike Week report, I’m pretty sure we’ll skip the return trip to Daytona next fall and may even skip next Spring. As much as there is to do, Daytona just “feels” a bit stale and has lost something over the past year or so. Judging by the shrinking attendance, we’re not the only ones who must be in this boat.
Planning & Prepping for Departure
I think I covered the planning process for this spring’s trip to Daytona pretty well in previous blog entries so I won’t belabor it too much. However, in a nutshell:
- Never trust the long-range weather forecasts: they’re fun to watch because they change by the hour right up and until you’re on your trip.
- For lodging, probably better off booking a room as soon as the dates are announced to avoid price manipulation. I swear that hotels were holding back rooms to drive up occupancy rates and lodging prices as we just never saw the crowds, even at our own hotel. Moreover, just about every place along AIA in Daytona Beach Shores had up “vacancy” signs.
- Taking the entire week off was the best thing I’ve ever done, even though I spent the first three days at the house doing things completely unrelated to the rally!
- As much as we’d like to share a condo with friends for some extra camaraderie and a little cost savings, it sure is nice having a place to yourselves!
As for getting Blue II ready, there was only one thing I had to do and that was to install a certain accessory that shall remain nameless (ATSRN) on Saturday. Blue was actually sporting a pretty good coat of road grime from two weekends back when we were caught out in the rain on both Saturday and Sunday rides. However, given how much more road grime would be collected over the 450 ride to Daytona, washing the bike seemed like a waste of time and I scratched that from my list. That only left organizing and packing our riding gear and any clothing and miscellaneous things that we’d do on Wednesday afternoon and evening.
So, how’d I spend those three days off on Monday through Wednesday? Sadly, workcation interrupted my staycation a few hours each day, but that still left me plenty of time to enjoy my time at home. When I say enjoy, I mean doing some good-old manual labor.
- Monday morning was spent doing a few hours of work, then some home banking before heading out to begin grinding up three massive piles of leaves I’d raked two weekends back. It was nearly an all-day affair, particularly when I still had three other sections of yard that needed to be raked and then “gritzed.” However, in the spirit of being green, all of the gritzed-up leaf and tree branch mulch goes right back into the yard. The last two hours of daylight were spent scalping the side and back yard lawn with the mower, another spring ritual.
- Tuesday was all about power-washing our red cedar split-rail fence, the backside of our neighbor’s privacy fences, a garden bench and the “porch” on my garden shed. This was yet another task that always seems to take twice as long as it should. About ½ way through the power-washing 60 bales of pine straw were dropped-off and putting that down would pretty much consume all of Wednesday morning.
- Yes indeed, Wednesday morning was fully consumed by spreading those 60 bales of pine straw. However, I did take a break from the project so I could meet Miss Debbie for lunch at the Red Eyed Mule. Wednesday afternoon was spent cleaning up the yard, getting all of the motorcycle riding gear organized and then shuffling motorcycles around in the garage to make room for the ATSRN. I cleaned-up before Debbie arrived home so I’d be ready to take her out to dinner at Loco Willy’s since we’d pretty much consumed most of what was in the house ahead of our trip. Back at home it was all about getting our clothing, toiletries, computers and “other stuff” ready to be packed on the bike in the AM.
Now comes the good part! Reliving our four-day trip to Daytona Beach… in nauseating detail. Up next, Part II & III.