Iíve been riding motorcycles for a long, long time. Probably since I was about 16 years old, and I just celebrated my 38th birthday on March 10 soÖ. happy birthday to me. Iím sure youíre all doing the math in your head and saying, ďHell Iíve been riding longer than that.Ē Wait a minute though before you come up with the final answeróI have to let you know that this year was the 21st time I celebrated my 38th birthday! Actually if you count the first time it would be the 22nd, now Iím confused; I never was very good at these kinds of math problems. I donít think Iím 60 yet, but basically Iím a lot older than I ever thought Iíd be. But thatís cool. I may have a lot of miles on me, but I donít leak any oil. Every day is a gift. Iíve owned a lot of different bikes and gone down many roads. During all those years of riding Iíve met some really great people and made many life-long friends. Iíve had some amazing times for sure. This story is about one of those amazing times and the great people I met and partied with.
When I was 13 years old, my cousin/best friend Donn and his parents moved from our home state of New Jersey to Daytona Beach, Florida. Wow, it was so cool going down there each summer; the girls, the surf, the beach, Yee Haa it was pure Heaven. My mother and I would take a Greyhound bus from The Port Authority in New York City and endure the 24-hour drive to Daytona. That sucked, but I knew it was worth it. Iíve had some of the best times of my life down there with my cousin and friends. It breaks my heart when I think that he drowned while diving off Bimini back in 1999. He was a biker too and had a 92 Harley FXLR. We did a lot of Bike Weeks and Biketoberfests together, going all the way back to the sixties. I miss him tremendously.
So now itís October, 2002 and Iím down in Daytona for Biketoberfest, staying with our old friend, Bobby. He was Donnís best friend and that first summer, became my friend too. We were all like brothers. He rides a 99 FXDL and is a great guy. Heís still crazy after all these years and is really basically the same person he was when I first met him, although Iíve heard it said that he was never the same after Nam (but then none of us were). My response was ďwell he was never the same before Nam so how can you tellĒ! I guess nobody really changes from their personalities as a kid. Thatís why itís such a treasure to have a life-long friend. Makes you realize that although the package is old, worn and tattered, the inside is still intact and the same. Old friends are like a mirror that you can look into and see yourself as you were. Itís a priceless thing, man.
If youíve never been to Daytona for Biketoberfest, itís worth the trip. Itís just like Bike Week with half the crowd. Bike Week is total insanity. The Fest is so much more enjoyable with as much crowd as you can handle and still be able to parkÖ. most of the time that is. The weather is usually better too.
So Bobby and I are out riding and hitting some of the spots. You know, The Main Street crush with parked bikes lined up like soldiers up and down both sides of the street. The sidewalks are wall-to-wall people checking out the parked bikes and watching the show going up and down the street. Itís a great place to see every kind of bike known to man and then a few you canít even imagine. Great place to people-watch too. The sound of thousands of Harleys in such a confined area is like constant thunder that you start to hear from many blocks away. You see it all there on Main Street. Itís different from Sturgis. There you kind of struggle to get where youíre going and find a place to park. In Daytona you ďcruiseĒ Main Street to be seen and heard. Then you might park and watch the action on the street if you want. What would normally be a one-minute ride down Main before the rally turns into a 25-minute stop-and-go trip. Itís great fun though. After our ride down Main Street, we headed up US-1 to The Iron Horse in Ormond Beach. Thereís a bunch of places right in this one area, all of whose names escape me. It gets real congested there during the rally and the police are always there for traffic and crowd control. Itís probably a couple of miles south of the huge new Harley dealer complex right off I-95 north of Daytona.
Okay, the Iron Horse. Talk about a wild place! Itís the ultimate. I call it a biker amusement park. It probably covers a couple of acres right on Route 1. There is a small building out front which is the main bar and that is open all year round. The rest is only open during Bike Week rallies. In back there are boardwalks down both sides of the property with all kinds of shops selling a multitude of biker-related stuff. Get a tattoo if you want. Plenty of food and drink all over too. There is a huge square bar right in the middle of it all and a stage at the back end of the property where they often book name bands. The Wall of Death is to the left of the stage. Then they have a dyno trailer next to that. You ride your bike right in and down paths where a small army of guys direct you where to park. Nearly every square inch that isnít on the right-of-way is filled with motorcycles. When you ride through, there are people everywhere so youíre constantly riding through a crowd. With all the activity, noise and action, itís a happening place. One of the best features is the network of elevated wooden walkways, decks and bars around the whole place. Like being in the cat bird seat, you can look down on it all. Beer is never more than 10 feet away. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the burn-out pit between the square bar and stage. Geez, I hate that thing. What a stink, and why anybody would do something like that to their bike is beyond me. I figure they must be idiots or have rental bikes. I did see something pretty cool there that day though. This little kid about five years old pulls into the pit on a little mini bike and lets her rip. It was amazing, he was really smokiní um! Everyone went nuts, what a kid. Some guy pulled in there later and during the burnout his bike flamed up. It went out right away but it really flashed up on him! He said he had an oil leak. But then the dope goes and does it again and once more his bike burst into flame. Slow learner I guess. We decided to take off and go over to The Cabbage Patch.
The Cabbage Patch is this crusty little bar out in the country that sits catty-corner at an intersection with a four-way blinking light. Itís a classic Florida biker bar with magic marker writing all over the walls, peanut shells on the floor, and many articles of unmentionable womenís under stuff hanging all around. During rallies they have several large fields in the back that they transform into a kind of super biker world. There are tons of vendors and food tents all over. You can pull your bike right in and park but like the Iron Horse, itís a lesson in crowd riding. Itís a real high energy environment with lots of noise and stuff going on everywhere. The place is famous for its coleslaw wrestling. Yeah, nothing like a bunch of half naked ladies wrestling in a swimming pool filled with vegetable oil and coleslaw. Yippee, yaa hooo!! Only thing better than coleslaw wrestling is jello wrestling. Not something youíll see at the local fair. I know, just treat me like the pig that I am! Oh yeah, the best is this 120-year-old lady that walks around in a string bikini!!! Iíve seen her a couple of different years so she must be a regular. She goes with her fully clothed husband, also, 120 years old. He gets a kick out of the attention she attracts. Everyone wants a picture with her. I have one of us someplace. Sheís definitely cool.
Bobby and I were hanging out under the beer tent behind the building where the band was playing. It was loaded with bikers and most everyone is real friendly. We were having a couple of beers and talking to some folks when one of the guys does a Rodney Dangerfield impression. It was amazing how well he had the voice and all the movements down. He even looked like Rodney Dangerfield! I flipped out because I love Rodney Dangerfield and believe it or not, I have his picture in my wallet. I show it to people and tell them heís my father. So of course I have to show this guy the picture. We became instant friends. Things really kicked into high gear then and we proceeded to have a blast. He was really funny and was with a zany bunch of about 15 bikers and bikerettes. They were from the Poplar Bluffs area of Missouri. Rodneyís name is Doug and his girlfriend was Michelle. We had so much fun and then they invited us to leave with them and go to their pig roast. Well hell yeah!! We were parked far away so we planned to meet up at the gas station at the end of Taylor Rd. They were there when we pulled in and we talked for a bit and then absolutely blasted off out to I-95 and north to around Ormond Beach. We exited 95 and did another white knuckle ride for about 10 miles west. They were a hot bunch, I tell ya. Well, I like full throttle too. We finally turned down this very long driveway which led to a really neat house in a picturesque country setting. It had nice big yard and a great pond. There were tents and campers scattered all around the property from the travelers. I guess there were about 20 of us at the party. The beer and food flowed freely. A good time was being had by all. They treated Bobby and I like theyíd always known us.
After about an hour the pig was done and roasted to perfection. It was absolutely delicious and melted in your mouth. All the food was good. What a great bunch of people. Doug/Rodney did several comedy routines and he was fantastic. My face hurt from laughing so much. He was like a Vegas show. We all sat there eager for more. Iím smiling right now just thinking about it. It was great.
So all and all Iíd have to say that it was a most excellent pig roast in a most excellent setting with most excellent people. It was absolutely the quintessential biker experience; wild ride, wild folks, and great party. Add to that a load of beautiful motorcycles parked all around and it just doesnít get any better.
I got an invitation several years ago to Dougís 50th birthday party which was held at The Elks Lodge on Hwy 67 in Poplar Bluffs Missouri but was unable to go. I sure wanted to though. I guarantee that all who went had a blast. Somebody out there that reads this will know Doug and I hope youíll tell him about this story. Dude, if youíre reading this, Iíve made you famous! Hundreds of millions of bikers all around the world have read this story and now know about you. And you say you donít get no respect! Heh heh. Bobby and I looked all over for your tent at Sturgis that next year but couldnít find it. I looked for you last year also but no luck. I hope we can hook up with your crew in Sturgis one of these years. We have a great group out there in Deadwood, and we all would fit together perfectly. It would be another fantastic time to remember.
By Manfive Irish