Planning for Daytona Bike Week 2020 started off just like every other year. Calling my friends to see who was going to make the trip and giving others hell for missing it. Every year a few of us at FMCo travel down to Edgewater, FL (30 min south of Daytona) and post up for the week at The Mad Pen Cycles House. Over the past 9 Bike Weeks and Biketoberfest events, the house has become our twice a year motorcycle family reunion.
We started off the first weekend linking up with a few customers to shoot photos and video for future ads. From our retail to our wholesale customers, finding people that enjoy riding as much as I do is a bonus. This year we ran into Courtney Kay and spent the afternoon riding and shooting her 'Bike Check' blog post. I invited my local FMCo dealer Carolina Patch & Leather to join us at the house. Most of our dealers never find the time to get out and ride, but Zach and Katie live for this and did not hesitate to join us for the week.
Most of the week we ran around town visiting all the vendors. Daytona Bike Week is not just partying on main street. You will find vendors at Destination Daytona (the big Harley shop on i95) and at the huge J&P shop next door. The racetrack in the heart of Daytona has all the big guys set up so you can test ride all the new bikes. Pro tip: Sign up for new bike test rides the night before and go early to enjoy the roads before all the party animals wake up.
As the week went on, the talk of Covid-19 started popping up, but we never slowed down. The week kept going like every other rally. Getting up early to ride to Ruthy's Breakfast house, then take the trip north to set up at one of the daily custom bike shows and meet new customers. After riding and visiting friends all day, our next stop before the trip home to clean up was always stopping for dinner at Giuseppe's Steel City Pizza. This place is not your normal pizza place. They have it all. Sitting down to eat with 25 large TVs in our face was the only time each day we could get a glimpse on what was happening in the world. But as you do on a bike trip you just keep going.
After visiting every party bar in town the first half of the week, it was time for the main event. Willie's Tropical Tattoo Bike Show AKA Choppertime.
If you have been visiting Daytona for bike week each year and you have not stopped at Willies on Thursday, you my friend are doing it wrong.
This is the best show at Bike Week. The custom bikes are stacked together like cord wood. Every year top builders show off what they have been working on and are elbow-to-elbow with the rest of us enjoying the event. Pro tip: do not miss this event.
Friday - Sunday talk of the Corona virus was spreading like fire. We learned borders were closing around the world. A group of Italian and German bikers were now stuck in the states and our friend from Canada had to pack up and start the trip home before our northern border was closed.
We all headed back to Edgewater to figure out what was next. The moto industry was a buzz with what events were already canceled and how long will it last. Friday night was the last night Main St would be open. The town was pulling the event permit Saturday morning. So, as we did every night, we made the trip to Main St to people-watch and take photos. This year I had some extra help to document everything. Adam Anderson joined my team to help bring our travels and products to life. Saturday was our moto family day. We all jumped on bikes to head to breakfast, then back home to hang out and help our friend Nick (Mad Pen Cycles) get packed up to move his shop. I would like to thank Nick, Garrett, and Jeff for taking care of me in Daytona for so many years.
Sunday morning it was hitting everyone that things were going to change for a while. We shot some portraits, packed up and made our way home. We woke up Monday morning March 16th to a new way of life. Daytona Bike Week 2020 may be the last rally we remember as normal. Only time will tell.