The Spirit of Bike Week at Daytona

Alan Masters

What’s the allure of Bike Week at Daytona? Of course the sunshine and some will say, it’s the bikes, some the races and others the great atmosphere and camaraderie. Well my experience has been all of the above, plus more. There’s a kindred spirit of motorcycling that radiates throughout Bike Week at Daytona. I could regale you with many stories around experiences I’ve had at Daytona these more than 20 years, however; one in particular has stuck with me, I’ll share with you as follows. I was working on my bike in the parking lot of the Speedway Inn next to the Inn restaurant when an elderly gentleman rode up on a Harley Classic. He looked like he’d been riding all his life, quite weathered with his grey hair and beard all dressed up in his leathers and bandana. He got off and slowly strolled over to where I was working on my machine and with a “howdy” started to ask me about my bike. After an interesting exchange I asked him how long he had been riding,  he replied, “one year today”! Well you could have knocked me over with a feather! Seeing my surprise he said; “well I’m 72 and I’ve been an alcoholic most of my life, I always dreamed of one day owning a motorcycle and I promised myself if I could ever stay sober for two years I would buy myself a Harley. Well here I am today and I’m into my third year of sobriety”! He said; “buying and riding his Harley made him feel like a bird that had been set free from its cage”.   It came to mind as he was telling his storey the impact on me of my first ride on a motorcycle, how it’s shaped my life in many ways and made me appreciate the freedom of the open roads more and life in general.
I’m sure there are many more such stories and experiences to be heard and Daytona is a place to hear them.