Before this year, I had only attended one Daytona Bike Week about 15 years ago. That year, we left from the Flying J in temps of 27 degrees and rode into a deluge in South Carolina. This year, the travel conditions were not that altogether different. Last Saturday 3/11, we departed from the Flying J and the temp was 19 degrees with a wind chill of 7 before calculating the effect of 50 mph travel speeds. Needless to say, this trip could not have been accomplished without serious injury if not for heated gear. Due to the extreme conditions, our leader, Al Swiger, decided to take the “coastal route” by traveling down Rt 13 in Delaware and traversing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel picking up VA Rt 58 to I-95 south of Richmond. We pushed through to Dunn, NC with the hope of getting far enough south to avoid the incoming snow front. We had a wonderful dinner at the Sagebrush Steak House and planned on departing for Waycross, GA immediately after breakfast. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. We woke to steady snow that was supposed to end by 10A. As it turned out, it was still snowing when we decided to leave as the snow wasn’t sticking and the roads were wet but not slippery. We endured these conditions for about 100 miles before it turned to intermittent rain. Again, due to the weather, we decided to stay on I-95 and stopped overnight in Yemassee, SC. Our merry band pushed through to New Smyrna Beach on Monday around 1PM where we made our way to our accommodations.
Later Monday, our “hosts”, Gail and Curley Pearson provided our motley crew dry transport to dinner at Aunt Catfish’s in Port Orange. The meal was delicious and the camaraderie was great!
On Tuesday 3/14, our group met up with the Volusia County Cruisers for breakfast. Afterward, James Wells led the group up to Beach St. to visit the vendors and the Indian dealership. From there we traveled “The Loop” (back roads) to Rossmeyer’s HD and JP Cycle to see more vendors. We then traveled to Caribbean Jack’s to meet up with some of our Retreads members that were spending the winter in Florida.
Wednesday 3/15 was designated as our day at the Daytona Speedway to see additional vendors. That evening, we dined at JB’s Fish Camp and were invited back to Gail and Curley’s condo for an awesome dessert and coffee.
Our annual luncheon at The Deck Down Under was held on Thursday. 26 Retreads made their way to the gathering despite the chilly weather.
As planned, on Friday, we departed New Smyrna Beach with Al and Bob heading to the west coast of FL to see friends and relatives while Jim and I headed north. Our goal was to get as far as possible in the warmer climate so that we would have a less taxing ride home on Saturday. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and we were able to ride 630 miles to Battleboro and completed the balance of the ride to NJ by 2:30PM on Saturday.
Overall, this ride was more of a testament to technology and determination than a ride for enjoyment. Unfortunately, Daytona Bike Week has become a wholly Harley-Davidson event. Indian Motorcycles had a strong presence but few other brands were barely visible. While I have no issue with this, it is a deterrence for me to endure this journey again unless something major changes.
Writings by member of the South Jersey Retreads