There was plenty of fun to be had by all at Daytona Beach’s Bike Week 2010. Get your eyes back in your head, boy!
Just as the sun finally began to heat up the Florida coastline, it was time to leave. Figures those damn Spring Breakers would get the warm weather. Daytona Beach Bike Week 2010 has come and gone in a blur, but not before another incredible week of motorcycle racing, rides on the beautiful sands of Florida beaches and around Volusia County, and the chance to see tons of killer bikes and custom bike shows. It was great to share a beer and a story or two with old friends and even better, there were plenty of opportunities to make new ones.
On the flight home, I sat next to a long-time resident of Ft. Lauderdale. I’m an easy-going person by nature, so I tried to engage in a little cordial conversation since we would be sharing the same armrest for the next four-and-a-half hours (which he hogged). He was a salesman headed to L.A. and when I told him I was flying home from Bike Week, the tone of our conversation instantly shifted. You see, he, like many, immediately had visions of hard drinking bikers and slutty women overrunning Main Street in a scene straight out of Sodom and Gomorrah. And true, if sin is what you seek, you can find it there. But I took offense to his generalization that that’s all there
is to Bike Week, so I had to set the record straight.
Bike Week’s roots are in racing and the crux of Daytona still centers around motorcycle racing. The Can-Am National Cross Country event kicked it all off, with FMF Makita Suzuki’s Josh Strang riding hard to put his name atop the podium. More impressive yet was the fact that almost 1200 riders representing eight countries were on hand to compete in the series’ opener. The inaugural dirt track races on the new course set up outside Turns 1 and 2 of the Daytona International Speedway followed up the GNCC action. How stoked do you think Sammy Halbert is to have his name etched in the history books as the first winner on the new Daytona Flat Track? I’ll bet you he’s still riding a natural high.
The scene then turned to the Speedway. First it hosted
‘And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air…’ You want a true slice of Americana, it doesn’t get any more American than Daytona Beach Bike Week.
vintage racing action for the annual AHRMA gig, and then it really heated up with the kick-off of the 2010 American SuperBike season. How cool was it to see Jake Zemke back on the top step of the podium after sweeping both American SuperBike races for his new National Guard Jordan Suzuki team? And what about Josh Herrin’s performance in the Daytona 200, who now has the title of ‘Daytona 200 Winner’ to add to his resume? Saturday night, Ryan Villopoto rode the wheels off his Kawasaki KX450F on a brutal course designed by none other than Ricky Carmichael to claim the Supercross victory. The following day, the G.O.A.T. was at it again, this time hosting the first-ever Ricky Carmichael University as the famed motocrosser pays it forward by sharing his knowledge with the next generation of riders. Somehow all of this eluded my fellow passenger.
He still didn’t quite seem to get it, so I shared with him some of the inspirational stories I found while I was there. High on the list is the tale of one Gloria Struck. Gloria is an 84-year-old grandmother who stands about chest-high. This little dynamo of a woman actually shoveled a path from her garage down the street of the circle she lives on so she could ride her motorcycle to Bike Week. Eighty-four and she rode. From Jersey. Through the snow. How could you not be inspired after hearing her story?
Then there were the Jordan brothers, Clint and Joey, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on my first night there. These guys made their dad’s dream come true when they saved up and sprung for tickets for their old man as a retirement
Joey and Clint Jordan
present. Their father, Ken, had wanted to come to Bike Week for 50 years, but always put his wishes behind the needs of his family. But he raised his boys right, teaching them to ride almost as soon as they could walk while instilling in them the importance of family. And after years of wanting to be a part of the action, this year Ken was, thanks to the love and respect the boys have for their father.
Finally I recounted the story of Romulo ‘Romy’ Camargo, the Special Forces soldier and avid motorcyclist who is paralyzed after taking a bullet in Afghanistan. Romy can’t ride anymore, so his buddies Rich Miller, who fought in many battles alongside his brother-in-arms, and custom bike builder Izzy Izquierdo built a special sidecar-equipped motorcycle so that Romy could again experience the freedom that riding brings. These guys busted their hump to get the Special Forces sidecar finished in time for Bike Week so that Romy could take a ride down Main
St. Romy was the guest of honor at the Biker Fusion event which raised money for both the Post 911 Foundation and Soldiers’ Angels. Again, it’s a prime example of motorcyclists giving back, something they frequently do, a fact that eluded the guy next to me on the plane. I tried my best to shed the negative stereotyping, but in the end I don’t think my pontification sunk in.
One of our favorite parts of Bike Week is checking out all the killer bikes. We finally got a first-hand look at the 2010 Triumph Roadster, a bike we’re itching to test. I also got my first ride on an electric motorcycle, an experience that left me grinning from ear to ear. Surprising to say, while spinning a few laps on the Zero DS bike, I didn’t miss having to shift gears or the bellowing of big pipes.
And the quality of work done on the custom motorcycles I saw at various shows was astounding. Most surprising of all was the turnout at Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Chopper Show. Not only did it have more bikes than any other show I checked out, there were more people squeezed into the tiny lot of the tattoo parlor than at the other, better publicized shows. This is probably due to the fact that Willie’s epitomized the overall feel of Bike Week this year as it’s more of a personal, grass roots event. It was full of custom builders from the Limpnickie Lot like Bare Knuckle Choppers’ Paul Wideman
and Nash Motorcycles’ Taber Nash. These guys take pride in handcrafting their own parts and have an uncanny ability to turn scrap metal into original, artistic pieces for their bikes. The same type of mentality that helped forge our industry in the 1960s and ‘70s is alive and well. The ill economy means more riders are chopping and bobbing
Karen & Willie G.
and reinventing their bikes in their own garages instead of merely bolting on a bunch of aftermarket stuff.
Not to say that there’s anything against bolt-on stuff. There’s still a market for the chrome-loving crowd. A stroll through the bikes entered into the Harley-Davidson Ride In Custom Bike Show quickly illustrates that. But it was impressive to see how much one can start with a stock Harley and totally make it their own. The end product differs so much from the starting point. Besides, not all riders have mechanical skills and some people shouldn’t be wrenching on bikes at all. This fact helps keep the small local shops and garages open.
The Rat’s Hole World Famous Bike Show once again showcased some of the most creative customs around. Owner Ted Smith brought over three contenders from Europe to pit their skills against their American counterparts in what is billed as ‘The Italian Showdown.’ Italy’s Jerry Caronte was the crowd favorite among the European contingency whose custom bike called ‘Il Padrino’ sourced a Sportster engine that serves as a stressed member of the frame. It is a stunning black bike with gold accents and a thin tank suspended below the thick tube of the backbone that he entered in the Extreme Bobber class. The bike that most piqued my curiosity, of course, was in the ‘Most Unusual’ class. You couldn’t miss ‘The
The Timeline Motorcycle is a rolling history of Harley-Davidson and features seven Big Twin engines dating from 1909 to the present day.
Timeline Motorcycle.’ It’s 24 and a half-feet long, seats 10, and has seven Big Twin engines. And not just any engines. The bike is a ‘Rolling History of Harley-Davidson’ and features all of The Motor Company’s Big Twin engines from 1909 to the present. I stood
Gallagher goes splat.
and watched the video of it rolling down the road numerous times, both for the entertainment value and the fact that it verified that this is a fully functional motorcycle.
It was cool that Motorcycle USA had more of a presence at Bike Week, too. Usually it’s just me and Road Test Editor Adam Waheed covering the scene. This year, we had a booth in the Ocean Center for the IMS and handed out boxes of free MotoUSA Magazines and Daytona 2010 koozies. We also had a little industry party at the Blue Grotto on Friday night, another Daytona first for the company. Stiff drinks, great food, the Dan Lawson Band and plenty of pretty spokesmodels meant all the necessary ingredients for a successful party were in place.
The lower turnout this year may have not worked to the advantage of vendors, but it did mean that it was way easier to get around Daytona and face time with the big manufacturers was easier to come by. Overall, arrests were down, confrontations were minimal, and spirits were generally high.
But there always a few harsh realities to deal with. Unfortunately, Bike Week 2010 was the last hurrah for four unfortunate motorcyclists. The good part is, that’s down
from the seven riders who lost their lives last year. Some accidents are unavoidable, but a lot of riders aren’t helping their own cause because the majority of the riders I saw weren’t wearing helmets. I’m all about the freedom of choice, but I’m also all about making it home to my family in one piece when it’s all said and done. To those families who lost a loved one, our condolences.
Though Bike Week may not have been the commercial success of prior years, I actually enjoyed the less frenetic pace. People on average were more sociable, the police more tolerable, and the fun index was still on high. And for those of you who couldn’t make it down this year for one reason or another, hope to see you there next year. That’s if we don’t see you at Sturgis first.