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Daytona Bike Week

By Walter Kern

March madness on motorcycles is a tradition at Daytona's Bike Week

The 73nd anniversary of Daytona Bike Week is being held March 7-16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The start of Daytona Bike Week is often announced on the morning TV news shows. You know, where somebody sticks their face in front of the camera and announces: "We're at the opening of Daytona Bike Week. Good Morning America," and then you see a whole line of bikes roar off in front of the camera. Unfortunately, most of the remainder of Bike Week will not be seen by non-motorcyclists.

Most of the items described in this article have links listed below.

Almost everyone has heard of the Daytona 500, the "crown jewel" of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series held at Daytona International Speedway, but how many have heard of the Daytona 200 or the AMA Superbike Championship? How many know that there will be flat track racing, and supercross? Not many.

Such is the state of motorcycle racing in the United States. Even at Daytona Bike Week where 500,000 bikers are expected, many don't know or care that these races are taking place at the same time and in the same town.

Admittedly, there is a steady stream of motorcycles crisscrossing Daytona Beach from the beach area to the various racetracks but since not a lot of Harley-Davidson racing is going on, the bikers who are devoted to the brand from Milwaukee are not inclined to stop to watch the races. In the old days at Daytona when racing was done mainly on the sand, Harley-Davidson was King and their machines always won the races. Tickets for motorcycle racing are available. However, often the grandstands are half empty.

Some people are interested in how Daytona Bike Week got started. Others just want to party - that's the vast majority. The scenes along Main Street in Daytona Beach haven't changed much except the crowds continue to get bigger every year. Where do all these bikers come from? Do they ride their machines from all over the country in early March just to be seen on their Harleys?

There are always discussions in the motorcycle forums about whether a true biker would ride or trailer his/her machine to Daytona. Turns out, it depends on your point of view more than whether you are a true biker. The one thing that can be said is that bikers or motorcyclists love to come to Daytona.

OK, the bikers get to Daytona somehow but where do they stay and what do they do? The overhead banners strung across the street read "Daytona Beach Welcomes Bikers." If you're looking for a motel at the last minute, good luck. Hopefully, you've made your reservation a year in advance. Maybe you want to rough it at a campground. There are more than half-a-dozen.

What do you do while at Daytona? You can consult the Calendar of Events for starters. You can ride The Loop. You can checkout the Vendors. Demo rides by Victory, H-D, and other manufacturers (sometimes only announced at the last minute) are popular. You can also get your bike blessed at the "Blessing of the Bikes" sponsored by The Basilica of Saint Paul. You can get an App for your iPhone that displays Bike Week information.

If you can't make it this year, you can still be a voyeur and see what's going on. Sometimes there is a Daytona Beach Internet TV Live Webcam that gives you views of the beach and the action on the streets.

If you want to plan for a future Daytona Bike Week, check out the Daytona Beach Five-Year Calendar.

So what's the best way to see Daytona? My suggestion is to plan to spend some time on both sides of Daytona. Check out the races and the bikers and their bikes. Forget the wheelies and stoppies. Just have fun.

Here are some important links about Daytona (some links may load slowly or not be operational yet, so check back later):

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© 2014 Walter F. Kern. All rights reserved.