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Welcome to official blog of the Florida West Coast Motorcycle Club. An American Motorcycle Association Historic Club (No. 165), we are a family oriented riding and social club with a history back to 1936. Our motto is "Ride and Have Fun". Learn more about us or how to join our club.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bike Week once again

I’ve been trying to remember the first time we went to Daytona for Bike Week. Beth says it was February 1993, and I have no reason to doubt her. I just remember that we flew into Daytona’s airport and rented an absolutely huge white Chevrolet Caprice, which was the only car they had left. Driving that big whale around Daytona among 250,000 motorcycles was quite an experience. So was parking it.

Anyway, it was mostly a good experience and we had a pretty good time. We stayed in a motel right across from the speedway. We went to the bike races, and we had lunch with Jim Paterson and his wife Jodi. Jim was the president of Harley-Davidson, and we had met him in 1988 on a ride to Milwaukee.

All that was 20 years and several lives ago.

Later that same year we moved permanently from Maine to Florida, and over the years we have ridden across the state  to Bike Week countless times.It’s usually fun, but there is a sameness to it that has kept us from attending for the past several years.

Until this year. Dick Pritchard took note of our long absence and decided that the club should put on an old-fashioned Bike Week trip once again. At first, about 10 couples signed up for the trip, but by the time March rolled around about half of them had dropped out for one reason or another.  So when we gathered at McDonald’s on Roosevelt last Thursday morning for the ride to Daytona, only four couples were on hand.

Dick and Judy Pritchard, Rick and Annette Mardis, Rick and Nil Beveridge, and Beth and me. Dave DiFiore and Nicole Cornelius got a late start and promised to come along a bit later in the day.

One one of our trips 10 or 12 years ago, we stayed in a room in a Daytona hotel that was right on the beach.  We were in a first-floor room, and some of our fellow lodgers amused themselves by doing burnouts in the parking lot until around 4 a.m. No one got a lot of sleep that night, and we vowed never to stay right in Daytona ever again. In later years, we either stayed in Mount Dora, about 50 miles west of Daytona, or in St. Augustine, about the same distance north.

The Edgewater Motel in St. Augustine
A great discovery was a little motel right on the  banks of the river in St. Augustine, a place called the Edgewater Inn. Nothing fancy, kind of old and 50s-like, but clean, well-maintained and within walking distance of downtown and historic St. Augustine, just on the other side of the bridge whose southern tip abutted the Edgewater’s property. That’s where we stayed this time, and it worked out great except for the crappy wireless Internet connection that only worked if I stood with my I-Pad directly in the center of the room, right between the desk and the TV set.

Hari Krishna. Hari Krishna. Krishna Krishna. Hari Hari.
There was a Hari Krishna parade in St. Augustine on Saturday. Not part of Bike Week. Frank says it was a big Hari Krishna weekend celebration.

All of the front doors fronted right on the parking lot so we could keep an eye on the motorcycles. The back doors opened onto a long patio area that fronted on the Matanzas River. Very scenic, with the historic St. Augustine buildings situated on the other bank. And no burnouts in the parking lot.

The bridge has a drawbridge, and we found that it got raised pretty frequently to let boat traffic through.  On the first evening, we walked across to have dinner at the A1A Ale House and, sure enough, we got caught for about 10 minutes when the drawbridge went up to let three or four pass through.

A couple of days later, we walked across again and got caught once more. This time turned out to be pretty funny, thought; when the drawbridge went up, and small crowd of young people hopped out of their cars, cranked up their stereos, and started dancing to very loud south-of-the-border music. Nilufer was so taken by it that she joined in. It was great and we got a few pictures.

Nil dancing to the drawbridge music
The members of our group did their own things while we were there. We all went to Destination Daytona on Friday, but then Beth and I headed south to New Smyrna Beach for dinner with friends while others either went downtown or headed back to St. Augustine.

On Saturday we toured downtown St. Augustine, but then some of us went back to the Edgewater for naps while others ride up the coast for a look at some of the beaches.

On Sunday we rode back through the Ocala National Forest and had breakfast in Polatka at the oldest diner in Florida (Angel’s) before making a stop at a little candy shop/bakery, most to fulfill Beth’s need for an occasional whoopie pie.

All in all, a great time with a great group of friends. Maybe we’ll recover enough to be ready for Biketoberfest.

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