It’s always entertaining to watch fresh eyes see familiar things. Daytona might be old hat to you and me, but it’s an unforgettable spectacle to someone seeing it for the first time. And so it was for Erika Eisinger, a longtime rider and the wife of Kurt Eisinger, the author of our main report. Kurt’s been to Daytona more times than he can count, but it was Erika’s virginal experience. Here’s what she saw.
Overwhelmed. Under-tattooed. Comfortable. Three words that describe my first experience at the infamous Daytona Bike Week. It was everything I had expected and, at the same time, not at all what I had expected.
My inaugural bike week party event was a Harley-Davidson VIP party at the Hard Rock Hotel. My nerves were a mess when I walked in because I had no idea what to expect. But once inside, I was surprised to see multiple tables of amazing food and almost ran into a waiter serving mini crabcakes – was I at a wedding reception?
There was a band playing in the front, beautiful girls making their rounds, motorcycles displayed along the outside walls, and lots and lots of flannel shirts and neck tattoos. I made new friends, drank more beer than I have in a while, and it was well past midnight before I knew it.
It’s 10 a.m. and rainy, and the first thing I see is an outdoor tiki bar staffed by a barmaid wearing lingerie and pasties over her nipples. I soon realized this was normal attire for all the bartenders.
We grabbed our drinks and started walking through the enormous facility and vendor areas. After about five hours of talking, drinking, shopping, and visiting people I had only heard of, I was in serious need of a nap.
In my previous life, I was a typical college party girl, so the action on Main Street was not new to me. This is Spring Break for bikers. There is so much to see on Main. Girls dancing on pedestals. Pop-up bars. Loud music. More neck tattoos. But I felt comfortable here, not the black sheep I was expecting to be.
Never did I think I would see more flannel than at CMA fest in Nashville, but there I was, looking across acres of flannel. And people covered head-to-toe in tattoos. I have 18 tattoos and felt like I had none.
While walking to yet another bar, one of our friends noticed Carey Hart. CAREY HART! I LOVE him!!! Turns out that one of our posse was friends with him, so I even got to hug him! If I died five minutes later, I wouldn’t have even been mad.
I felt special when I picked up my VIP pass, being able to hang out in the middle of the raceway infield! Little did I know that everyone hung out in the middle of the raceway. As the races went on and the vendor areas started getting busier, I watched riders wheelie and dragrace Harleys in the parking lot while hanging out with my new friends and eating crappy food.
And, naturally, because it was 10 a.m., more drinking. How do these people live like permanent college kids? I (slowly) sipped my drink and took in as much as I could before my flight early the next morning would whisk me away.
I made it to dinner, no nap needed. Then more drinks. More shots. Holy crap, I’m so sorry, liver! We spent the rest of the night laughing, drinking, and telling stories with our friends, old and new. It was a bittersweet goodbye.
I’ll end here reminding you of the three words I started with: overwhelmed, under-tattooed, and comfortable. I was overwhelmed by the incredible amount of fun and new experiences I had. My measly 18 tattoos left me feeling under-tattooed. And I felt comfortable being around all walks of life together for one great, exciting event.
My advice for anyone going to Daytona Bike Week in the future: Get more tattoos and prep your liver.