Daytona, Florida Bike Week

An RV Odyssey to Daytona’s Bike Week

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle. There’s something about them that’s just so . . . cool. Like you don’t need anything, it’s just you and the road, and nothing more. And I’ll tell you something else. My brother in-law’s a good guy, but I always kind of dreaded our visits to see him and his family. They’re my in-laws, after all. But all that changed when Tom suggested we visit for Bike Week - that’s the big motorcycle extravaganza they have in Daytona every year in late February and early March. Now I’m Tom’s biggest fan!

We arrived a couple of weeks before the big event, which turned out to be a good thing. I don’t have any actual biking experience, and neither does Sally. Tom’s a serious bike-buff, though, so he told us just what to do. First, he signed us up for a motorcycle safety class. It only took one long weekend to finish, and we came out with our biker’s licenses, a good grounding in motorcycle driving and rules of the road, and a new appreciation for how hard it is to be seen on a bike.

Sally was pretty nervous about motorcycles to begin with, but the class instructors made her feel a lot better. Tom told us, for instance, that 90% of serious biking injuries happen to people who never had any formal training, who just learned from a friend or taught themselves to ride. I don’t know that Sally will ever be ready for a long motorcycle cruise, but at least she feels ready to drive the Loop, the famous course through Daytona that everybody takes during Bike Week.

Tom wanted to show us some bikes, so he had some of his biker friends over. These were some seriously tough guys, and boy did they know their bikes. I learned all about engine size, the differences between street bikes and cruising bikes, and that bikes come in different sizes and heights. I’m on the tall side, so I couldn’t ride Tom’s wife’s bike, for instance. Tom also set us up with rented bike gear - stiff boots, fitted helmets, and leather jackets and pants, complete with armored plates. Then we were ready to hit the road!

Sometimes I don’t know how Steve talks me in to these things. We hadn’t been one full week in Florida, and there we went, off on a motorcycle drive into the Florida countryside. With me driving my own bike! I’m shocked that I’m even writing the words. But you know, it was so exciting - I felt as free as the wind. And once I got over the strangeness of wearing that leather outfit, it started to feel pretty cool. Who’d have thought I’d be feeling cool at my age? Riding a motorcycle wasn’t even on my life list, but I felt so brave, conquering this new thing. And, of course, it all came together just in time for Bike Week.

We took our first ride to Blue Spring State Park, to look for manatees in the warm spring water. No one else believed me, but I’m pretty sure I saw one! The next day we went to the Ponce DeLeon Inlet Lighthouse for a picnic lunch and some beautiful views. All four of us climbed the 203 steps to the top so I could take pictures of the ocean and the beach below. Another day, my sister-in-law Molly suggested we try the Sugar Mill Gardens that are set on an old English mill. It’s a little goofy there, since about forty years ago they tried to set the place up as an amusement park for kids called Bongoland - you can still see the massive dinosaur statues. But the gardens were stunning with lots of flowering holly and magnolia trees.

The next week, Steve and my brother Tom did some golfing and went to the Daytona International Speedway, giving Molly and me a little peace and quiet. We went (in a regular car) to the Daytona Flea and Farmer's Market, where I found some amazing bargains. There was a little lamp that’ll be perfect in the RV, and some vintage jewelry that we can give our daughter for her birthday.

And now, after weeks of getting ready, it was finally time for Bike Week. We went to Riverfront Park for the grand openings, and you should have seen the crowds - tons of people, all sporting their best biking gear. I was proud to have my biking jacket on. There were booths and stands up everywhere, selling all kinds of biking equipment, gear, and accessories, not to mention amazing food. We’ve only been through one day, but we’re all ready to go back for more. Maybe we’ll see you there!

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