Charles I. Guarria
Biketoberfest Live & Loud
Updated: Jan 3
Shortly after Tropical Storm Ian left the east coast of Florida and passed into the Atlantic Ocean, the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau issued a press release stating, "With clean-up following the recent storm well underway, the 30th annual Biketoberfest® motorcycle rally, scheduled for Oct. 13-16, will proceed."
This gave clearance for 100 000 plus bikers to finalize plans and head on down to the "World's Most Famous Beach," Daytona Beach, in Daytona Beach, Florida.
More accurately, in its 30th year, Biketoberfest has become a Volusia County-wide event. With many entertainment venues getting in on the fun. And why not? I would , if I owned an entertainment business.
As a four-day weekend event, Biketoberfest is a mini-version of the annual Daytona Bike Week revelry that actually lasts nine days, not seven.
There is a real cool vibe around town as the roar of motorcycles is a constant, neat sound. For locals, we get to see all kinds of motorcycles while out doing usual errands. I love that!
That roar of a motorcycle engine sounds like a cash register ringing to the bars, hotels, restaurants and vendors. Combined, Biketoberfest and Bike Week can bring in as much as $600 million in a year.
Bob Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, was referring to the effects of Tropical Storm Ian when he said, "We are having a good bike week. Not a sold-out bike week.” That could mean the $600 million generated by the two events will be a little less this go-'round.
The hot spot of both festivals is Main Street in Daytona Beach. On Saturday, October 15, I walked the street and checked in on many a bar and vendor.
Main Street is closed to any vehicle other than motorcycles, and it is impressive to see the array of colors and styles that parade down the street.
There has been some talk that the event has begun to age out; I didn't see that. Certainly, there is a significant amount of people over the age of 40 in attendance; however, the under the age of 40 crowd was out in full force.
The ages of your children might be a consideration if you don't want the little ones to see women with just enough clothing to not be arrested for indecent exposure. Indecent is in the eye of the beholder, and one person's eye candy can be viewed by another as not so dandy.
You decide, is this too much for your children to see?
Every bar is free to enter and bends toward hard liquor over wine and fruity cocktails. The food is outstanding. In past years, Donna and I shared lamb in a pita that blew us away. I've also enjoyed the chicken ka-bobs.
Be sure to bring cash. There are minimum purchase amounts with a card that can be more than the cost of one drink. A vendor informed me it was so busy his charge card machine wouldn't work. In other words, the system was overwhelmed.
The music is good, though I am not a fan of watching cover bands. I don't get a thrill out of watching a garage band play someone else's music. I'd prefer frequent Biketoberfest performers, The Grindstone Sinners, who mix originals with cover tunes.
There is one cover band that plays every year at Bike Week who are exceptional, Hairball. I checked them out because Gene Simmons got on stage with them once. That was cred for me. They are worth the trip!
The vendors have some awesome clothes and jewelry. Try bargaining; I snagged a cool bracelet for $10 less than the asking price.
Interestingly, there was a good deal of clothing with Sturgis on it. I wonder if vendors at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally sell a good deal of Daytona Beach Biketoberfest or Bike Week clothing. :)
One thing Daytona Beach has that Sturgis doesn't is, I bet you know where I am going with this, the beach! From any point on Main Street, you are less than a half mile to the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier.
On the other hand, if the idea is to get on your bike and ride, is that really going to work in a place where the roads are becoming more and more crowded as more and more people come to live in Florida?
The county that Sturgis is in, Meade County, has a density of seven people per square mile. In contrast, the county Daytona Beach is in, Volusia County, has 402 people per square mile. That is approximately 57 times as many people per square mile and growing. More traffic congestion plus more red lights to wait on equals less time cruisin'. If a biker has to choose between the open roads of Sturgis and the evermore crowded roads of Daytona Beach, well, where are they going?
It's food for thought. I'd love to read your comments on this, especially if you ride.
For the last four years, I have lived but 15 minutes away from Main Street. This is the third time I have gone to Biketoberfest, and each time the atmosphere is always great. If anyone comes with an attitude, they surely have left it at the door. Biketoberfest and Bike Week are a blast. I encourage riders and non-riders alike to make the trip to Daytona Beach.
Down on Main Street in Daytona Beach during Biketoberfest
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See ya soon!