If you live anywhere near Daytona Beach and you've never experienced the phenomenon known as "Bike Week"... well, you don't know what you're missing. It would be like living in Orlando, never having been to Disney World... or living in Niagara Falls, never having actually visited The Falls!
Early last week, I saw a vendor featured in the Daytona Beach News Journal. "L.A. Lites" is an installer of LED lights, which illuminate your bike at night with "ground effect" reflection. Now a hard core old schooler would say, "Not for me," but I really like 'em. Not only do they look cool, but you can justify the expense to your significant other, by hawking the "safety benefits!" The truth is that many bikes are just plain hard to see on I-95 at night (not good) - and LEDs (see the middle photo above) light up the show (good).
Understand that Bike Week has a Rating System - just like the movies. If you want the "PG-13" version, just drive your family down International Speedway Boulevard and then up A1A to Granada and go back home. (We could keep this one "G," however, you'll have to be alert to block your kid's eyes, as the occasional thong, hiked up on the back of a Ninja or Hyabusa, speeds by). If the "R" rating sounds more intriguing, include a cruise up Main Street and then Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard. You want "XXX?" Repeat the "R" cycle after 10:00 PM and include late night stops at Froggy's, the Iron Horse Saloon, and Sopotnick's Cabbage Patch Bar. Don't you think that the sight of rather large women, wrestling in cole slaw, is sexy?
Well, I went to L.A. Lites on Saturday and got my LEDs installed. The vendor was on Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd. and it took about three hours to complete the work. To be honest with you, I never realized that there was a "Black Bike Week" within the "Bike Week" event. I spent those three hours in the middle of it and it was a hoot. I truly got to know the meaning of "minority," as I was only one of about three white folks I saw all afternoon. The "show" was amazing. An abundance of tricked out bikes of all kinds... and an abundance of tricked out people, as well. It was a friendly and festive atmosphere. I kept my eyes peeled for Viet Nam Veterans... I approached each one with our mantra, "Welcome home, brother!" "Who were you with?" "82nd Airborne - 1967." "Cool. I was with the 196th Light Infantry - 1968 & 69." "Long time ago, right?" "Yeah, but sometimes it seems like yesterday." "Lost a lot of buddies..." "Hey, man, nice to talk to you..." "You, too, brother - welcome home."
The food was a combination of "Southern" and "Island," with lots of collards, fried fish, ribs, and both fried and jerk chicken. Music poured out of many speakers - From Sam Cook and Wilson Pickett - to Bob Marley and the Wailers - to JayZ and Lil' Kim... (no Allman Brothers, Foghat, or ZZ Top here!) The smells and sights and sounds were pure sensory overload. The element that really got my attention was the tremendous and overwhelming ethnic pride in President Obama. Half the T-shirts and souvenirs were "Bike Week" and the other half? "Obama!" I think I finally got it... what his election means to black Americans. Personally, I'm a Conservative Republican, but I'm sure rooting for this guy, now that the people have cast their votes!
By comparison, when I cruised up Main Street on my way home, things seemed a bit tame!