A Taste of Heat to Come in Arizona and Daytona
Words and Photos: J. Joshua Placa
Daytona Beach Bike Week
Like bears slumbering through blizzard and brutal temps until the scent of spring stirs them to wake, motorcyclists near a fresh new riding season like a great natural awakening. The first major release of the year begins with the 73rd Daytona Bike Week, held March 7 to 16.
Daytona is spring fresh flesh and tattoos and iron rolled one hot, hedonistic party. Miles of beautiful beach are marked by conspicuously tanned women and muscular men; rock n' roll wafts from every saloon on Main Street; vendors are everywhere, offering the usual and unexpected; and some half-million enthusiasts take over what is normally a sleepy seaside village.
Dress for a balmy weather but bring raingear, an insulating layer or two, good gloves, sturdy boots and, of course, a helmet, preferably with a shield to keep the rain and Florida bugs off your face.
Daytona is a spectacle. It is mopeds standing up to Big Twins, revving their puny engines in mock defiance; it's sportbikes perpetually stuck in second gear going nowhere fast; it's a rat bike that clanked from all the pots and pans and stuffed rats lashed to its rusted metal; it's trikes shaped like hamburgers, rockets and coffins; it's Harleys with loud pipes.
A long winter’s pent-up desire can bring out some strangeness. Past Bike Weeks have witnessed a cat wearing a helmet and sunglasses and sitting atop the big, bald head of a guy riding briskly down the block (not sure who's steering); a dog, same outfit, different guy (dog steering); a ’59 Cadillac cut in two, half bike, half car; a 30-something uptown idiot couple with a tiny child as a second passenger; and lost and confused geriatric tourists ambling onto Main Street, their lime and pink nylon outfits clashing with traditional black biker wear.
There is more to Daytona than the millions of dollars of vintage, classic, custom, ultra custom, stock and bizarro motorcycles, and thousands of steamy pedestrians who relentlessly line the eight- to 10-block length of Main Street. The strip is a must, offering more cycle stuff to see and do per square foot than likely any other rally. The world-famous Boot Hill Saloon Froggys and Bank & Blues are just a few of the traditional hangouts. In fact, once you shuffle yourself down Main Street once or twice for the usual vendor and bar crawl, you are now free to ride about the coast.
The fun is extended to neighboring Volusia County towns of Ormand, Ormand Beach, Port Orange, New Smyrna and New Smyrna Beach. Basically, anyone with a backyard throws a party. Bars such as Gillys Pub 44 (1889 State Road 44, New Smyrna Beach), the Iron Horse Saloon (1068 N. U.S. 1, Ormand Beach), Jackson Hole Saloon (1081 N. U.S. 1, Ormand Beach) and the Last Resort (5812 Ridgewood Ave., South Daytona), among others, feature daily bands and a carnival atmosphere.
For more Bike Week event information, visit:
Arizona Bike Week
Just a couple of weeks later, Arizona Bike Week will throw its warm arms around the biker nation for the 18th time, April 2-6, not counting Pre-Rally Days. This event has evolved into one of America’s finest motorcycle rallies, safe from hooligans and overzealous municipal revenuers (police), and designed to maximize goodtime bang for the buck.
On March 28th, ABW warms up with five days of Pre-Rally parties, contests, giveaways, and dealer events and charity rides before the official doors to Cyclefest open. Held in Scottsdale’s immense equestrian venue, WestWorld, ABW has grown into a premier event, rivaling older and thus far larger rallies in measures of fun, security, live music, vendors, activities, and even an unobtrusive law enforcement attitude. Reasonable behavior will meet with continued cooperation from the blue meanies.
The official party kicks off the first Wednesday of April, highlighted by ABW’s signature headliner bands. This year’s marquee includes ZZ Top, Joan Jett, Big & Rich, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Aaron Lewis. About 20 minutes northwest, the biker-town of Cave Creek is a kind of party sister to Cyclefest and home to more biker bars per capita than likely any other town in the U.S., including The Hideaway Grill, which hosts its own salute to Bike Week.
Ten full days of a dozen or more charity and four stunning self-guided rides in and around Scottsdale, the greater Phoenix area, and scenic destinations in four directions ranging from 40-mile runabouts to more than 300-mile day trips have transformed ABW into a premier rally of rides. Miss Arizona Bike Week; barbecues, Western cookouts, best bike builds in a number of classes; bike games; naughtier bike games; wet T-shirt contests; factory demo rides, insane stunt riders, bikini washes; and a couple of hundred vendors round out the fun.
Cyclefest admission cost $50 pp for a five-day pass, or $20 pp Wednesday and Thursday; $25 Friday and Saturday, and $15 Sunday. Children 12 and under were free. All tickets included the evening headliner concert series.
For more information, call 480-644-8191 or visit www.azbikeweek.com.