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Bike Week Part 2: Tip Your Bartender

March 19th, 2016 · Tags:Cities · Uncategorized

Concept Bike

Concept Bike

In the first Bike Week installment, I was remiss and didn’t mention any of the great music that helped me digest my 20+ hour ride from Texas … perhaps no sweeter morsel than when my iTunes shuffle kicked up “Trees” by Rush … just as I hit The Piney Woods of Texas.  Poetry, I say … a political, allegorical tale of the “haves and have nots.”  Do you know it?  Oh … and do you know that drummer Neil Peart is a motorcycle fanatic … and one more, do you know.  Sadly, Neil and Rush — as we know it — will no longer tour.  Sad … I digress …

So about this Daytona Bike Week.  What a fun trip — about four hours to and from Miami, if you make good time.  Right or wrong, I turned off the Interstate on the road north to Daytona Beach and rode Highway 1 a little closer to the water.  It was probably an hour and a half out of Daytona that I started to pass and/or get passed by bands of motorcycles and other lone wolf riders such as myself.

Interesting observation:  bikers, renowned for their cool, mellow, friendly two-finger wave to other bikers on the road DO NOT do the friendly wave at a rally.  I suppose it makes perfect sense … With 20-30,000 bikes roaring around, that’s a lot of waiving.  Still … I found it interesting.

Man! So many bikes.  So many people from every walk of life … every persuasion.  Oh the Harleys … and cruisers of every make, and sport bikes … and a few Triumphs here and there, although they still are somewhat unique these days, even though most of the Harley guys cut their teeth on a Triumph. (I took note of several nice Valkyries too, for the record … noting that, just in case my friend Alan is reading along) …  After I hit the Daytona strip for the second time in a week I rode into town and immediately wedged into a traffic jam.  I stopped first at a Chick-fil-A for a quick bite, thinking it would be the one establishment not overrun with people due to the rally.  I kid you not — and this says a lot, I think — even Chick-fil-A was full of bikers.  A few miles down the road, same with Starbucks … so I can only imagine what the “watering holes” were like.


Rebel Ya'll

Rebel Ya’ll

Then I saw the real Bike Week … or at least the early stages.  I turned off the main highway on to Main Street Daytona Beach.  The gauntlet is the best phrase I can think of.  In front of me on the street were thousands and thousands of motorcycles, four abreast — half of them leading me and half of them inching along toward me on my left.   What a scene.  And this stretch of Main … maybe a mile or more … was lined with an equal quantity of revelers … drinking and laughing and urging us on, as we stopped, moved, stopped, in the warm ocean breeze.  Ha … some young, GQ-looking guy on a smaller Harley paired up with me to ride through this bottleneck.  He had one fine set of pipes, and took great joy in racking them off in my ear, much to the joy of the bystanders at every opportunity.  But he was nice.  We had some quality time and we inched along.  Ha … about five minutes into the gauntlet he said, “Do you smell that?”

I did.  No two ways about it.  It was weed and it was in close proximity.  But there were so many people partying it up, right up to the edge of the road … who knows where it came from.  It was interesting to note the aroma.  This was not the weed of my youth — the pot that smelled like a grassfire to the second-hand inhalers at rock concerts back in the day.  This stuff smelled like the Garden of Eden was on fire next to us.  Oh how medicinal incentives and technologies and attitudes have changed that industry.

Ha … it was me who soon piped in, “Smell that?  That smells better to me right now,” as we coaxed our rides along past a smoked turkey leg booth.


Indian Trike

Indian Trike

We had just moved a few more feet when I was approach by two Eastern Europeans, former-Soviet-Block-kinda dudes. “Metallica!  Metallica,” one of the guys was shouting.  Oh … ha … for several years I have saved a t-shirt from the Metallica concert in New Zealand (also described in this blog a while back) … saving the shirt for just the right occasion.  Bike Week was that perfect Metallica fashion moment.  HA … so these two guys were almost hugging me because they loved Metallica so much … when they noticed I was on a European motorcycle.  Oh the instant bonding in broken English with the two Polanders, or Poles or whatever you call those former socialists.

The Metallica shirt has a skull on the front — and for the record I am opposed to skulls and other symbols of death in almost all situations — but somehow it just seemed right among this demographic group:)

But it was not the most interesting fashion statement of the day.

Stare At Tips


After making through the gauntlet in about an hour, I spotted the Daytona Triumph dealership.  Of course Triumph t-shirts are yet one more thing I always look for, so I pulled over.  No shirts … hmmm … but oh yes … I almost forgot that both my headlight and one sport lamp on the Triumph had performed about as well as my GPS during my two night rides (see previous blog regarding GPS).  I needed new bulbs and the Daytona Triumph guys said, “No problemo” … and asked for only a little money and thirty minutes.  I gave them both.

Meanwhile, I crossed Main Street — near the bridge that connects Daytona Beach with the mainland — where there were dozens and dozens of vendors — custom motorcycles, leather aparel, food trucks, ha … a small stage with yes, none other than the very first Rush cover band I have ever heard or heard of … who did a pretty good cover of the falsetto-wonders of the song “Fly By Night.”  … So perfect for an old school kinda guy. And there were lots of beer booths.

I no longer hoist the cold ones, but I couldn’t help but notice one of the beer booths as I walked by.  (This is another shirt story …)  As I glanced over, the bartender’s back was turned to me and I noticed she had something funny written on her back.  I also remembered my friends had told me to take lots of photos of Biker Week, which I had failed to do.  So, I asked the bar tender, who was now turned sideways to me, if I could take a photo of her back on which someone had painted, “Stop staring at my tips!” … Ha … well that was kind of cute/funny for a bartender.  Ha … she turned around and said, sure, but “My front is better!”  Ha … I didn’t seek out nudity at Bike Week, and yet, it found me.  It was not until that moment that I knew the bartender was wearing no shirt … but rather had the outline of a blue halter top painted on her body.  Oh how I blushed.  But, being the dedicated journalist … I got the shot.

At that was about as wild as Kent got during Bike Week.  There were no hotels available anywhere, so I turned around and headed back to Miami, knowing I had a four-hour ride in front of me … on a highway loaded with crazy drivers on a weekend.  I hit the road … hoping someday, I get to go back.

Sunday, I hit an area where I was much more comfortable … LOL … Ocean Drive in Miami Beach … home of even more Harleys … the Versace Mansion … and some of the best people watching on the planet.  I took note of several of my former hangouts there … of course that includes the Starbucks near 15th street.  Yes, Ocean Drive was different, but almost a gauntlet it its own right, as a very international crowd of locals and tourists all clamored for very few parking spots.  As I sat stuck in traffic, I noticed a young man with a remote control, standing a few feet to the side of me and my bike, over on the sidewalk.  Ha … I looked up to see his drone/camera  videoing me and the several hundred other people in a very small vicinity.  Ha … I was thinking helmet or no helmet, I would be really p…ed if he crashed into my head.  And furthermore, I thought, “You have one of the wildest beaches on the planet a tenth of a mile away, and you are videoing me and this scene?”  Lastly, I thought of a completely immature and “stupid and futile gesture” … but no, I did not give any one-finger salutes to the drone.  I did, however, make the pistol-like “Guns Up” sign of Texas Tech.  Hmmm … I suppose the two hand signals may be interchangeable:)

Know what I sayin?