Daytona BEFORE Bike Week
Date: Friday, February 13 @ 10:30:57 CST
What does the self-proclaimed motorcycle enthusiast do, when other business brings him to Daytona five weeks before “Bike Week”?
If there is some free time in the schedule, the question shouldn’t be too difficult to answer: He will tour the motorcycle dealerships.
This “tour” has become a routine over recent years and always follows the same route. From “base camp” we go south on A1A two lights and make a right. This leads us to the place where in a few weeks all the hotshots will attempt to strut their stuff. “Main Street”. In early February, however, this is a rather pathetic alley and all the establishments that will then bustle and thrive are merely shags, lost in a rather unsuccessful cry for attention. In an odd way, they seem out of place. The two or three Harleys that can be seen parked on the sidewalk, like early harbingers of things to come, can’t quite convince the innocent bystander that this is actually a place of semi-religious ceremony. As we are not really interested much in the “poser-bike” activities, there is no need to stop. Not even for Corbin’s “Taj Mahal”, as most of the stuff to be seen there – as we were able to find out in previous years - is of that particuler genre.
So, on we go across the Main Street Bridge, and here it begins, as soon as we reach the other end: BMW of Daytona Beach. One of the few dealerships of the German brand in the U.S., that is exclusively that and seems to be sucessful by doing so. The complete model range is well represented with a great amount of bikes on display. The “Beemer” guys are a strange folk. While they are not as ignorant about other bikes and bikers as most of our fellow riders of brand “H”, they still have that elusive and arrogant air about them, which mostly stems from them being “die-hard” riders who have little or no understanding for anyone who puts less than 40,000 miles on his/her bike in a year. (Now, before I get a lot of hate-mail for this: I have a BMW too and have attended some BMWOA rallies!).
I still like them, because one thing is for sure: They know how to ride! So, it is not really surprising, that some of the used machines have a lot of miles on the clock, although they are just 3, 4 or 5 years old. It is also not surprising to find some other brand trade-ins. Yamaha Royal Stars, Kawasaki Vulcans, a Honda CB919 and even a Harley 1200 Sportster. What is surprising, though, is that the owner has one of his own precious jewels on display, and it is not a Daytona Orange R90S, but a same period machine from a little further South:
A 1975 Square Case Ducati 750SS. Sitting in a special corner all by its glory self, roped off from extensive public traffic. When asked, whether it is for sale, the salesman first shakes his head but then makes the universal guesture of rubbing the tips of thumb and forefinger against each other, letting you know that here, everything is for sale - for the right price.
All this two-wheel talk, joking and remeniscing has taken too much time and we decide to skip the least interesting of the dealerships a few blocks South – Daytona Beach Harley Davidson. And I am sure, if Robison would still own the franchise, we would have stopped. So, we turn North to proceed to PCS. Tony Foster always has an interesting collection of bikes, both for sale in his small showroom and in his shop that he he is working on. And we are not disappointed. Two Bimotas, a rare, early Ducati SP homologation bike, a Triumph Hurricane
And – the second surprise of the day – two CBXes. A 3,000 mile 1981 that is sitting waiting for a new owner, and a 17,000 mile silver 79, he is working on, which will be for sale once he is done.
I have learned something about Tony, that I never knew: That he has been into CBXes for the last 25 years! The rest of the day until it is time to part to meet with the rest of the crew for dinner is spent chatting with Tony. The man just amazes me. How he always makes you feel like he was waiting for you all day to come in, so he could talk to you. No matter how busy he is. Like George Roeder used to be. One of the few great shop owners left out there. A dying breed. They are getting run over by the “boutique” shops. If you have one in your area, make sure you take your business there. Even if you pay a Dollar more for a chain or a tire or a helmet. The world will be a lesser place without them.
The day finally ends in another great place: Gene’s Steakhouse out West on International Speedway Blvd, halfway between Daytona and Deland. A table right next to Bob Snodgrass and Hurley Haywood, the company can’t get any better. A great New York Strip steak, a bottle of our favorite Italian Chianti Classico and by far the best Key Lime Pie you can buy in a restaurant! Believe me!