Another Bike Week in Daytona has come and gone. This year’s version , running Feb. 26 through March 7, was the 69th iteration of an annual event that grew out of the first running of the Daytona 200 motorcycle race on the white sands of Daytona Beach in 1937. From those humble beginnings, Bike Week has evolved into a 10-day fiesta of horsepower, leather and testosterone; a cacophony of the sights, sounds and smells of all things motorcycle, drawing upwards of half a million visitors to Daytona Beach and its environs.
Whether you go for the people-watching–leather-clad bikers and their scantily-clad female companions (or vice versa); the food–a miasma of grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages and chicken; the drink–booze and beer in righteous abundance; the bikes–everything from Hondas to Harleys to radical custom choppers; or simply to soak in a bit of everything…it’s all here in Daytona. You go to the Speedway for the manufacturers’ demo rides and displays, Beach Street for vendors and browsing, or Main Street for the full Bike Week ambiance and occasional sheer drunken debauchery. It doesn’t matter. Strangely, we bikers, always drawn to the solitude of the open road, the zen of the ride, are inexplicably drawn together into this primal rite of biker brotherhood, a collective beating of the chests and revving of the pipes. It’s enough to make a grown man weep. And while I may wax poetic about the mental acuity that comes from cruising the open road, hooting and hollering at exposed boobs on Main Street seems to be a necessary and therapeutic part of the week as well. Who am I, after all, to stifle freedom of expression, a freedom our founding fathers held dear?