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Bike Week 2003

Friday, March 7, 2003
Riding on back has advantages.
Riders are out in force at Bike Week 2003 and this couple is merely two of the folks having too much fun on Main Street.
You’d think that after years of attending the annual Bike Week celebration in Daytona, Florida I would be used to the enormity of the situation. Yet, each year I arrive and like clock work the first words out of my mouth are, “This place is packed.”

This year is no different and entering the vibrant little costal Florida town is much like the first day of school. Sure, we’ve all been there before, but regardless of how many times you’ve done it, it’s still exciting.

This year, MotorcycleUSA decided to do Bike Week a little different and we secured a little bungalow up the A1A outside of Ormond. The V-Twins are background noise up here as opposed to the overwhelming din that occupies the greater Daytona area for the vast majority of 10 days.

It seems like the locals are a little friendlier in Ormond and less apt to treat you like a number. In fact, as soon as we arrived at our week long residence a local by the name of Bobby who wore a shirt that said, “Real men don’t need instructions” quickly enlightened us on the various sights that most Bike Week visitors miss, advice we’ll surely take advantage of throughout the week.

We’ll be doing Daytona in style this year thanks to our good friends over at Yamaha who have procured a different bike for each of us for the next couple of days. My first set of wheels was a 2003 Yamaha FZ1, while Ken scored a 2003 Yamaha Warrior. Yes, life is tough for us sometimes…ok, this isn’t one of them.

We started out on our bikes and cruised the usual routes, including one of the most famous day rides, The Loop. After a short ride up the A1A for some grub at Betty’s we headed to the heart of Bike Week, Main Street. Despite the fact that it is just Thursday in Daytona the Main Street pulse was beating strongly and the thump of V-Twins enraptured the lively crowd that lined the boulevard. The only audible noise that could be heard over chrome laden machines was “Show You T—S!
What brand does this guy like again
So you say you like H-d right?

Some of the coolest rides on two wheels slowly crept along Main Street, from $50,000 customs to kids on bicycles, everybody it seems is basking in the glow of Bike Week. Check out our Bike Week 2003 Gallery for just a few shots of the various machines that occupied the most famous street in motorcycledom.

Check back with us as the week progresses as we bring you reports on all the action in Daytona. From the Superbike and Supercross races to the rumble on Main Street, we’ll be here till the last twin is packed on it’s trailer and hauled home (o.k. it was a cheap shot, but a just one!) 

Bike Week 2003 - Day Two...

Bike Week always seems to have a few surprises in store for participants and Friday was no different as a series of torrential downpours besieged Daytona for most of the day. Activities from Main Street to the Speedway were shut down while the rain filled the gutters and pushed Bike Week participants indoors.
We were not kidding - it rained hard!
The rain forced the party goers indoor. Wet, wild and pounding tequilla like its going out of style. Bike Week 2003 baby!

Before the rain came we took possession of two new bikes thanks to the good folks at Yamaha. We turned in the Warrior and the FZ1 from day 1 for a R6 and a V-Max and set out for the center of Bike Week, Main Street.

Dark clouds and ominous skies loomed fortuitously in the background while the usual activities continued along Main Street. We spent the better part of two hours hanging out on the historic avenue and snapping some pictures for the 2003 Bike Week Gallery.

Afterwards, we braved the elements and made our way to the Speedway in the hopes of taking in the AMA Supersport and Superstock contests slated for the afternoon. Just after firing up the bikes thunder crackled off in the distance followed immediately by heavy rain drops. The precipitation escalated and high winds began to toss barricades and debris around the street where we were parked, which forced us to find shelter and wait out what we thought might be the beginning of a small spring shower. Our decision proved to be a smart one as a curtain of rain washed over the region, dropping an unbelievable amount of water on the surrounding area.

The winds picked up and surpassed 30 miles an hour according to local weather reports. In fact, the wind was so strong we witnessed a wind screen of a Harley Road King get ripped-off from our cover in the garage at the Corbin retail store.

The Corbin cuties were out until the rain came.
By the middle of the day, the Corbin Calendar girls were all seeking shelter from the cold-cold rain.

The rain continued for 45 minutes before it subsided slightly, allowing us to high-tail it out of the central Daytona area. After splitting lanes and taking cover from the down-pour on several occasions we finally made it back to the Speedway where the rain continued to come down in droves.

An hour after our arrival we finally dried off and made our way to lunch at the BBQ pit where roast beef and pork were being aged to tender perfection. Luckily during our time grubbing the rain subsided so we returned to the track hoping to take in the AMA races.

Unfortunately, the racing was cancelled and a day at Daytona was lost as we were forced to spend the day counting rain drops and lighting strikes.

As dusk settled over the wet town we joined the folks from Yamaha for the Fast Supper, aka, Dinner of Champions at Gene’s Steak House outside Daytona city limits. The food was excellent, the company was better, but nothing beat the flow of Johnny Walker that warmed my soul and the filet mignon that made us full.

Some are not as cool as they had planned.
Even the sportbike squids have plenty of time to shine in Daytona.

We took in a few stories from the likes of Thomas Stevens, Brock Glover and our friend from White Brothers, multi-time MX champion, Gary Jones. After singing “Happy Birthday” to Eddie Lawson, the raucous dinner crowd subsided and it was time to put an end to a somber and wet day in Daytona.

End of an Era?

As elusive Daytona sun set behind a blanket of dark clouds on Saturday, thoughts of possible evening activities bounced in my mind. What could I do that would be interesting, or at least more interesting than doing the standard “Main Street” strut along with 80% of the other Bike Week participants.

They come in all shapes and sizes...just look at Haggar here.
They come in all shapes and sizes...just look at Haggar here.

As elusive Daytona sun set behind a blanket of dark clouds on Saturday, thoughts of possible evening activities bounced in my mind. What could I do that would be interesting, or at least more interesting than doing the standard “Main Street” strut along with 80% of the other Bike Week participants.

Unfortunately therein lies the problem with trying to cover Bike Week. The historic bike rally is an event that should be experienced, not read about. I can show you the pictures and tell you about the enormity of the situation but nothing compares to actually being here.

I mulled over the paradox that is Bike Week and I headed off campus for short while to see if there was anything going on outside of the usual activities. I hopped into a local bar on A1A, saddled up and ordered a beer. I quickly struck up a conversation with two older gentlemen who looked the part of a real die-hard H-D guy.

I inquired about their history with Bike Week and it was revealed they have been Bike Week participants for years. However, the conversation quickly turned a little sour as the man named Turk went into a diatribe about the current state of affairs in biker culture.

Even the local IHOP draws some of the sickest bikes in the world!Cowgirl
As she rode off into the sunset I thought: Is this it?

“I’ve been coming to Daytona for a long time, son,” said Turk. “It’s changed so much during that time - it used to be all gangs and the underbelly of society, now it’s just the opposite.”

It didn’t take very much to get him to talk more about the changes in biker culture since Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels etched their name into the history books of infamy.

“I don’t know if it was worse then or now,” continued Turk. “I guess it’s better now because all the b------t and crime is gone for the most part. But now it’s such a dog and pony show. All these people play dress up and take off their suits and then put on the black leather and the Harley Gear. They just like to play outlaw for the day.”

End of an Era...continued...

I sat and listened as Turk talked about the old days of riding. According to the living history book on my right he holds no grudges against today’s Harley riders, he just wishes the whole thing wasn’t so cliché.

“Back in the day we rode motorcycles because it was a source of freedom,” said Turk. “Guys didn’t ride because they wanted to be outlaws or part of a counter culture. Bikes were just the vehicle that we chose because we felt free on two wheels. Riding in a car made us feel like we were a part of that section of society that we were trying to escape. We weren’t interested in doing it for a day or a week or whatever. We wanted to leave that corporate side of society for good.

The bike is priceless.
Big choppers have become all too trendy at Bike Week. Stretched front ends, 200+ series rear tires with hugger fenders...they're everywhere!

“Now, the only people that seem to come here any more are the same people we were trying to avoid,” continued Turk. “Hell, it costs so much money to come here anymore. A bike costs what, fifteen grand? It’s ridiculous, then you gotta find a room and you have to pay hundred of dollars - it’s ridiculous. That’s why you don’t see any more of the real bikers here anymore. This isn’t about bikes, it’s more like Halloween.”

Turk’s thoughts on the subject seemed to trail off and he just shook his head and sipped the remaining drops of beer out of his mug. Turk sat in thought for a few minutes when he gave his friend a nudge and got up from the bar.

He said goodbye and wished me luck. With that he walked out the door with his well-worn boots clicking on the tile floor. The door opened and shut behind him and I couldn’t help but feel as though the last real biker had just walked out on Daytona’s Bike Week.

My conversation with Turk made me feel as though Bike Week was just an excuse for many people to dress up and pretend to be someone they're not. As I rode back down A1A, I saw droves of people riding their bikes in the sub-par weather with huge grins plastered across their faces.

Some bikes are just plain old bad ass.
There are not too many rules at Bike Week. No flashing, no drinking and driving and no helmet law.

There were people of every race, creed, and socio-economic level riding side by side, and it dawned on me that these people on the road were not part of a “dog and pony” show. Rather, I saw them as part of a growing sect of society that has discovered the freedom of riding a motorcycle. These enthusiasts are the reason that Bike Week is such a success each and every year.

Sure, some like to play dress up, but the vast majority are true bikers regardless of of what lost guys like Turk say. Daytona has gained legions of new enthusiasts that will make Bike Week worth attending for years to come.

2003 Daytona Bike Week Gallery
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