Florida and Daytona Bike Week. For me “birthday” is synonymous with “travel”. The awareness of time passing and the latent thoughts about taking stock of my life no longer allow me to dream of white beaches and crystal clear waters. I am looking for new emotions for proving myself to be still young!
So it was born the idea to visit Florida in motorbike together with my better half. The first trip in the States on a Harley-Davidson, for living as bikers. “Welcome bikers!” This is the expression that accompanies us on our journey and that bonds us to the many bikers of different ages and nationalities that we meet along our path.
Florida and Daytona Bike Week – Miami and The Beachs
With a very little luggage, our tour starts from Miami, specifically from Miami Beach.
The first surprise is represented by the climate; we hoped to find warm temperatures suitable for motorcycle trips, that would allow us to fully enjoy the emotions conveyed by the “B twin”, but we found cold rain and wind which forced us to “rob” the HD dealerships looking for winter clothing.
Miami Beach consists of a long narrow strip of land that stretches from the Bay of Biscayne and the Atlantic Ocean. Extensive beaches with fine sand, palm trees and wide sidewalks undisputed reign of skaters and skateboarders.
The main attraction is South Beach, where you find the largest concentration of the Art Deco stylish buildings and the famous Ocean Drive, that teems with life both day and night; here they were filmed many scenes of the television series Miami Vice, popular in the 80s.
With a bus we crossed the MacArthur Causeway bridge towards Downtown for reaching the mainland, to discover the two fascinating and rich of history neighborhoods: Little Haiti and Little Havana, testimonies of the Caribbean and Latin American communities.
It seems to be in Cuba: friendly people, music, impromptu performances along the way, everything is moving to rhythm of music.
Bayside Marketplace is the kingdom of shopping, full of crowded pubs where you can eat and drink cocktails or fruit smoothies.
Key West direction
The big day arrives, the long awaited day when our adventure starts; it’s time to know the “iron” that will make us discovering Florida: a Harley Davidson Electra Glide, glossy black … a show!
We move to Key West, delightful town at the end of the Florida Keys, the islands of Florida that are lost in the Caribbean sea, the southernmost point of the United States. To reach the city there is a unique and beautiful panoramic road, the Overseas Highway; 261 km long, linking the islands with over 40 bridges.
The first stop is traumatic, the weather conditions are prohibitive: wind and driving rain. The wind is so strong as to move the motorbike from side to side of the road, forcing me to balance with the body the constant changes of direction to keep the bike upright. The rain makes the asphalt so slippery that I decide to stop using the brakes in order to avoid involuntary blocks of the tires, that would let us to know the road surface! The wind effect is very strong; I’m driving a windsurfing!
After about five hours we are finally sailed to Key West; we are destroyed and completely soaked but still “safe and sound” (it has to be said and not take it for granted!).
Parked the “fide horse”, the clouds thin out and the wind dies down, leaving the scene to the long awaited show: the Key West’s sunset. Here every day at sunset, everything and everyone stops to admire it.
To repay the sufferings of the trip, the Key West nightlife helps us. Here the Cuban influence is strong, as we are closer to Cuba than to Miami. The streets are a succession of very particular local shops; people are cheerful, they dance in the street and parade beautiful Harley Davidson; and, finally, the weather is hot. We reward us with a delicious Key Lime Pie, the typical dessert of Key West. It seems to experience the atmosphere of the Ernest Hemingway’s novels, who lived right here.
Everglades: Florida’s tropical forest
As scheduled, the next day we head to the Everglades National Park, a marshy area infested with crocodiles and alligators, trying to recover the scheduled stops that we could not do due to bad weather.
It does not even seem to walk on same road: the landscape has completely changed, the beaches viewed the day before are unrecognizable. It’s amazing how scenarios can change in such a short period.
The day before the sea was stormy so to flood the road and the water was colored of a disturbing leaden. Now we cross the paradise, pampered by a warm sun and cheered by the sight of a calm and clear sea. A dream, our dream: crossing breathtaking landscapes with the warm wind in your face and the unmistakable sound of a Harley Davidson. At Everglades we pause for a short trek in search of alligators and crocodiles, anhinga (a rare American bird, black, with long articulated neck and a razor-sharp beak), herons (typical plants of this area) and beautiful colors landscape.
It’s amazing to see how many alligators populate this area. Road signs warn you of the danger as they are everywhere, so to fill up the ditches along the road. There is also the risk to run into panthers, but fortunately we have not encountered any of them! Florida City, Fort Myers and Sarasota, our adventure continues. We drive along the east coast, alternating rain and sun but with the freedom that only the two wheels can offer.
Orlando, the city of fun
We arrive in Orlando at about noon of the eighth day, and now we dive into the Magic Kingdom, one of the four Disney World Parks, the first one to be built. An afternoon spent amongst carousels and a lot of shows and fireworks for a stunning finish. It seems to be children again.
Daytona Bike Week
Loaded of childlike ingenuity, we depart for Daytona to experience the famous motorbike event Daytona Bike Week, going from Donald Duck to folklore bikers world.
We are not yet arrived in the city that already it feels everywhere the roar of two wheels … we’re really in the U.S.A., other than European standards that although enable us to respect the environment and to travel protected, they deprive us of the taste of riding.
There are no helmets, or only a viking helmet at most! And the mufflers rumbling like old movies. Although it is not so hot, the girls show off a sexy clothing and men wear leather vest adorned with coats of arms and commemorative pins. There are people with snakes and others with monkeys, just as we can do with dogs. Everywhere is music, dancing, drinking, buying accessories to change its motorbike… is just amazing.
We dive into this wonderful world too, buying clothing and accessories, parading with the bike through the streets of the city center allowed only to bikers, making friends with odd men of all ages and nations, and the cops that make us try their Harley.
Two days watching young girls drive strange motorcycle, old ladies with big motorcycles, men wearing vests tell their story of bikers, very special sidecar, wheel to wheel challenges, country shows and sexy striptease… then sometime you take your bike and move to other areas with more parties.
Everywhere is rumble, color and friendship, because motorbikers are a big family. There is no theft, there is no violence; so a banner at the entrance of the city: “You are welcome bikers”. I’d never say that a rally could convey peace of mind, spirit of friendship, inner peace, happiness…
I cannot describe in few word as we felt in those two days. Eventually, we leave the bikes in Orlando and we reach Miami on board a small plane to come back to Italy. Flying over the Florida, we relive the joy of this holiday, we retrace the road traveled in freedom.
Our dream has truly realized, our first adventure in the U.S. of America with a Harley Davidson, the first of a long series.
P.S. Happy birthday: the vest with the coat of arms of the gathering will help you remember this birthday. You are welcome biker! See you on the road!