While the return of swallows to San Juan Capistrano, California and buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio are the first signs that spring is in the air, anyone who has been to Daytona Beach in early March knows that in this part of the world the arrival of flocks Of bikers is confirmation that winter is over.
It is estimated that half a million motorcycle enthusiasts wend their way to Daytona each March for Bike Week. When you add on the opening weekend, the week is actually a10-day vroom festival, packed with everything from huge, planned, public events to small, private, intimate opportunities to get together informally at local bars and bistros to chow down and have a Beer or two.
It's common to see license plates from 49 states and every Canadian province during Bike Week. When someone comes up with a cheap way to ship a bike from Honolulu, there is not doubt that residents of the aloha state will proudly join the crowds of cruising guys and gals as they zoom up and down Main Street and along the shore on A1A.
The variety of vehicles that gather in Daytona is amazing. But it's not surprising to see the most common names in overwhelming numbers. Harleys are by far the most popular. Most are the off-the-rack version and sport every color in the Harley-Davidson rainbow. Others are stunning works of fine art and engineering, with custom paint jobs, paraphernalia and pipes that were created by artistic geniuses.
Suzukis, Hondas, Indians, Kawasakis and Yamahas are well-represented. Classic, antique and truly unique 2 and 3-wheelers round out the field of participants in what might be the world's largest gathering of its kind. From small starter bikes to bodacious behemoths, the lore and lure of Daytona during Bike Week is irresistible.
Cruising along the highways and byways of Daytona and neighboring towns seems to be the thing to do on a sunny Bike Week day. With no helmet laws on the books, head gear is optional but worn by most. Since it does occasionally rain in the sunshine state, even riders who usually resist covering their heads on clear days don a helmet during inclement weather. When road conditions get rough, a little head protection can go a long way.
Beside cruising and catching some rays on the sand and in the surf, Bike Week visitors have a myriad of activities and events – mild, wild and everything in between – to choose from. One of the favorite choices on everyone's to-do list is strolling along Main Street, stopping to visit the shops and merchant stalls, and checking out the bar scene. For anyone who is looking for that perfect leather jacket or just the right T-shirt, this is the place. Everything from biker bling to some cute little thing that's made of chrome and clips your cell phone to the handlebars is for sale.
On the last Sunday evening of Bike Week, you would think that the town slowly returns to its quieter mode. Think again. The departure of motorcycles heralds another annual occurrence – spring break! And, so, the college crowd starts showing up all over and the party rocks on.