Thunder into Daytona Beach for Bike Week


We were cleaning out the closet when Paul found it.

“What’s this?” he asked, dangling a handkerchief-size piece of material in front of me. I recognized it instantly.

“That’s my black leather halter top.” The expression on his face made it clear I needed to explain further. “From Bike Week," I said. "When I went rolling with the Biker Babes.”

Let me be the first to pass the blame. If it weren't for my friend, April, I never would have ended up with leather apparel of questionable taste. I also would have missed out on Bike Week altogether, which would have been a shame.

I know April through hang gliding. She has a big laugh, a big heart, and a wild streak wider than Lake Okeechobee. She had this idea to get together all the woman motorcycle riders she could and that we’d boogie up to Daytona for Bike Week, storming into town like a living announcement that it was time to get the party started. Although my experience biking has been limited to racing dirt bikes around the fields, she suggested I go and offered me a lift on her Suzuki Intruder.

Bike Week has been a tradition in Daytona since 1937, and is heralded as the world’s largest motorcycle event. It sounded just like my cup of adventure. I was in.

We met up with the other Biker Babes at a gas station by Winter Garden. The morning sun filtered through the trees in sharp columns of light, and I had to squint to see the Babes, who sported tattoos, leather hairpieces, leather pants and sunglasses. Their Harleys and Hondas gleamed, rumbling with power as we blasted onto the road.

I’ve never felt so much like a rock star. I clutched the back of the bike and sang along to Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” The wind chilled my skin, and my eyes watered behind my glasses. Our trek was mainly on back roads, past palm and pine trees. We drove cautiously around the cars; April explained that you have to assume the drivers don’t see you. I was grateful for the helmet she insisted I wear and grateful for her respect for the machine we rode.

By the time we arrived in Daytona Beach, my rear end was complaining and I was happy to pile off the bike. Choppers, hogs, low riders and Harleys clogged the streets. Over 500,000 bikers and bike lovers had showed up for the event.

Half-clad women and men with bulging biceps shopped, showed off their slick machines and wandered through the booths. The breeze was scented with beer; bands played rock and country music.

I’ve never been known for a shy nature, and it was a first-time experience for me to be among the most conservatively dressed. April couldn’t help but recognize it, too. “We’ve got to get you some decent clothes,” she said.

We wandered into one of the many booths. The Biker Babes thrust what they generously called clothing towards me. I initially objected to the black leather halter, since it exposed an alarming amount of skin, but the others insisted there was no such thing at Daytona. I was going to protest further, but I figured if I agreed they might quit trying to get me to wear fur undergarments, too. (No kidding. They actually make them.)

I wouldn’t have missed the day for anything – the demos, the dancing, the music, and especially the people and bike watching. I might even go again. I saved the leather halter top, just in case.

Want to join the fun this year?

Bike Week thunders into Daytona Beach March 8-17, 2013.

Insider’s word-of-warning: Bike Week is an adult-appropriate event.


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