The 18th Annual Biketoberfest celebration in Daytona Beach took place October 14-17 and it’s hard to recall any other Daytona bike event having such perfect weather. No rain, low humidity, and temps that haven’t been seen since last spring were the perfect backdrop for the many activities that make up the fall rally. The crowd was estimated at about 150,000 and compared to the almost half a million that attend Bike Week in the spring, that might seem like a small number but if you were sitting in traffic along the Ormond Strip or on International Speedway Boulevard, or doing the nightly Main Street shuffle, it probably seemed like every one of them were right there beside you at that very moment.
The city of Daytona Beach and the surrounding communities seemed to be awash in motorcycles during the four day party. After last winter’s unrelenting cold snaps and the summertime’s heat and rain, this was the kind of riding weather we’ve been dreaming about. Slap on some sunscreen and toss a light jacket into the saddlebags and you were good to go. While it doesn’t draw all of the vendors and big name bike builders that show up to kick off the spring riding season, there was more than enough on the menu to satisfy the biker appetite.
Although the racing fans were shut out of the action this year due to the repaving of the Speedway track surface, the track area was still a busy place with vendors, demo rides, custom bike builders, and free admission to the Daytona 500 Experience. Large crowds could also be found at Destination Daytona despite the never ending traffic jam and the long distance routes required entering and exiting. Attendance was also good for the three major bike shows of the weekend, Tropical Willy’s, the Classic Boardwalk Show, and the world famous Rat’s Hole which relocated back to the downtown Daytona Lagoon water park. The Stone Edge Skatepark on Ridgeway once again played host to the Limpnickie builders who are breathing new life into the custom bike scene. Main Street comes alive during the two annual bike events and it’s still the place to see and be seen though the sound from the bikes and the bands can make any attempts at conversation useless. Most notable is the resurgence of Beach Street as a party destination again. The Harley dealership remains as the anchor and has been joined by Indian and Big Dog (Carl’s Speed Shop) dealerships along with vendors who filled most of the waterfront park area. Beach Street is also the place to find dollar draft beers if you know where to look. Just down the street, City Park was the setting for a Saturday concert featuring Gretchen Wilson and further down the coast in Edgewater there was another country concert on the schedule of events. Daytona’s famous biker bars also seemed to be doing a thriving business despite the weakened economy.
Though I doubt it broke any attendance records and despite seeing vacancy signs on most of the hotels throughout the weekend, this year’s Biketoberfest seemed to deliver exactly what we wanted – a very good time.