Daytona Beach

Disclaimer: This ride description is about my experiences. The purpose of the ride was to see Daytona Beach and to drive as far as I could in the time I had. I took a week off with the intention of completing an Ironbutt ride, wandering around in Florida, and perhaps hitting some of the sights in south Florida. Unfortunately, mainly due to the weather, I was only able to ride and wasn’t able to do any sight seeing.

The ride itself was from Woodbridge Virginia, south on I-95 to I-85 south of Richmond, through North and South Carolina into Georgia to Atlanta. From there, I-75 to Tampa Florida, Rt 4 to Lakeland where my wife’s sister lives. East around Orlando to Cocoa Beach, north to Daytona Beach, and finally I-95 north from Florida, through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and into Virginia to home.

If you’ve been on these roads, you’ll understand that there’s really not much in the way of scenery. I choose these routes for speed and distance.

Now pull up a chair, the drinks are on me.

In preparation for the ride to Florida I bought chaps and a tank bag. The bag arrived in plenty of time but the chaps did not arrive before I left (hell, they’re still not here).

I intended to leave at 5am on Saturday but a review of the weather forecast Friday night found rain up and down the east coast lasting until Monday morning. So I worked on finding some additional stuff and making sure I had everything I’d needed for the trip. It was supposed to be cold, 27 degrees Monday morning and 19 degrees in Atlanta Tuesday morning. I did not intend to be in Atlanta Tuesday morning but it’s best to plan ahead.

Bright and early at 5am on Monday morning I got dressed at my warmest. 2 layers of clothes, wet weather pants, and leather jacket. I wrapped my scarf around my face, put on my helmet and ski gloves, and headed to the gas station.

I’ve been riding to work all winter. A couple of times it was colder than Monday so I expected to have to stop and warm up my hands fairly often. I had my windguards on the bike hand grips which stopped most of the cold from reaching my fingers but some always does.

So I gassed up the bike and headed south. The weather was clear and cold as I expected. It was very cold. I briefly considered returning to my warm bed.

I stopped at 6am at the rest area. I planned on stopping about every hour to warm up and phone home. It was already pretty cold.

I stopped at the first rest area on I85, about 2 hours into the ride. My toes were getting numb. It felt like someone was holding a “cold poker” against the bottom of my feet and my fingers were numb. I think the “cold poker” I was feeling was the metal support piece in the arch of the boots. Just like you shouldn’t wear steel toed boots, I will need to find boots that don’t have this support feature, at least for cold weather riding.

I walked around warming up for about 20 minutes, phoned my wife and then hopped on the bike and hit the road again.

After 30 minutes or so, I stopped for gas, walked around a bit and hit the road again.

At 8:30 I stopped again and warmed up. The sun was up but it wasn’t much warmer. I hadn’t seen any other bikes on the road. I threw on a second pair of socks hoping for additional warmth.

I stopped again at the visitor’s center for North Carolina. I hit the center and found that they had a fire going. I chatted with the ladies behind the counter and warmed my feet and hands. I was getting used to having cold feet and hands.

It never got real warm throughout that day. I planned on having a Power Bar for lunch but I was so cold I stopped at a Wendy’s to warm up. The guy behind the counter offered me coffee in addition to my food order but I turned it down. I don’t drink coffee, and in addition, the Ironbutt advises not to drink caffeine because of the following crash.

I warmed up as best I could and hit the road again heading south hunting for warmer weather. One of the cool things I found was that as semi’s passed me, my left foot would be pushed down and I’d gain about 5 MPH in speed. But I’d read about the accidents and deaths caused by crap falling off of trucks (brakes, tire treads, etc) so I moved to the left or right so that I wasn’t too close.

At one of the stops in a shopping center parking lot, I met Leroy. As we talked, he mentioned that his father lived in DC, Apt 37 in SE. He wanted to know if I knew him since he’s a real friendly guy. We chatted a bit more, shook hands, and I saddled up again.

Because I had to keep stopping to warm up, I continued to fall behind in my time. By the time I hit Atlanta, it was 6:00pm. I wanted to be there at 2pm. Rush hour in Atlanta was lots better than in the DC area.

It was getting dark and becoming colder. I would refuel or hit a rest stop, warm up with the hand warmer in the bathroom, hit the road again and start shaking. After a few miles down the road, the shaking would subside. I figured I was hovering on the border of Hypothermia and hoping for the ride to get warmer.

Eventually 14 hours into the ride and just north of Macon (Forsyth), I gave up. I hit one of the cheap motels and got a room. I was pushing hard because of the Ironbutt, because of the 19 degree forecast in the morning, and because I expected it to warm up as I went south.

Unfortunately, while parking the bike (“park it on the sidewalk, don’t take one of the parking spots”), I dropped her. It took me a couple of attempts when one of the other guests ran over and helped me get her back up on her “feet”. After profuse thanks and a failed attempt to restart the engine, I pushed her over to a parking spot and began unpacking.

I took off the tank bag, sleeping bag and tent, and unpacked my saddlebags. One of the desk clerks had turned the heat on high in my room. I peeked out the window where the bike fell and spyed something on the ground. I went and got the broken off end (about 2 inches) of the front brake handle.

I also checked the bike over to make sure that was the only problem. I found that I was able to start her again so I was happy again.

I headed over to snag dinner. It was 7:30pm. I snagged some tacos from Taco Hell, called my wife from a pay phone (the room phone didn’t work), and headed back to my room. I tried the warm bath item my wife suggested but I was shaking so hard after the bath that I thought it made the cold worse.

I set the alarm for 5am, climbed into bed, and watched TV as I eventually warmed up.

At 4:47 the next morning, I woke up. I got ready to go, packed up my stuff, threw on two pair of socks, refilled my liter water bottle (I kept it on the “dash”, the spot behind the windshield but in front of the handlebars), checked out, and headed off.

While it didn’t appear to have rained, when I got on the road south I think the road was a little damp. I hadn’t put on my wet weather pants but I had two pair of pants and two shirts (as well as the long underwear). I also put on two pair of socks.

I also had to keep pushing my face shield up because it was fogging up so much. It was bitterly cold Tuesday morning and it was brought home when I stopped after the first hour of riding. The liter of water I kept on the “dash” was frozen slush.

I threw on my wet weather pants and top which actually helped a great deal. So much so that at about 8:30am, I stopped at a Wal*Mart and bought some latex gloves. I put the store bags on my feet between the two pairs of socks and I put the latex gloves over my wool liners on my light riding gloves. I put the leather shells over the modified gloves and hit the road again.

I was significantly warmer in my feet and hands. I wish I had thought of this Monday morning. You can bet I’ll remember it next time.

The day warmed up as I headed south. I began seeing bikes heading north, both ridden on being “trailered”.

As I passed through Ocala, I figured that I’d take a short cut down 98 to Lakeland. It was approaching 1pm and I was supposed to be at Lakeland before 2pm. After pulling off, I decided to ride the last hour without my helmet. It was nice enough and I had been fairly warm for the last couple of hours.

So, I rode the rest of the way helmetless.

After a couple of wrong turns I found my way to my destination, greeted my wife’s relatives, unpacked, and we wandered around town.

I won’t go into boring detail here since this is more of a ride report than a family newsletter.

I checked the weather for Daytona on Tuesday and found that there were going to be thunderstorms on Thursday. Ok, not too bad. I’ll hit Daytona Beach in the morning, head south to Cocoa Beach, hang out in camp for a day, cruise south Friday, and head home wanding through Daytona again on my way north.

Before I left Wednesday morning, I checked the weather one more time. Thunderstorms Thursday and rain Friday. Well, while I could handle waiting a day and wandering around, I really didn’t want to hang out two days and head north Saturday or Sunday especially since it was supposed to rain in DC on Saturday and Sunday. So I altered my route a bit, headed directly to Cocoa Beach via 4, the toll road around Orlando, and the “Bee Line” toll road to Cocoa Beach.

My wife wanted me to pick up a Cocoa Beach Ron Jon sticker. Yep, it was the only reason I was heading to Cocoa beach.

I got the stickers, post cards, and a t-shirt and headed north on Rt 1.

I’d been seeing more bikes as I headed to Daytona on 4 and again as I headed north on Rt 1.

As I got into Daytona South, there were bikes all around. Parked on the road, in parking lots, and in traffic. I did notice lots of vacancy signs on the motels. There were a few no vacancy signs.

I spotted a vendor area in a shopping center lot and pulled in. I hopped off the bike and wandered around. There were trikes for sale, both the converted type and the actual built as trikes (VW engine and V-Twin engine).

I thought of my wife who doesn’t like to ride because she’s so short and can’t see around me. These built trikes had a very low driver seat and a passenger seat that sat fairly high. An interesting alternative that would let her enjoy the ride more.

As much as I’d hate to trade in my new bike, I also don’t want to spend all of my time on the bike by myself. I’ll have to think about alternatives. We’re also considering trading the more expensive bike for two less expensive bikes that equal the cost of the Hog.

I picked up a t-shirt (not a Daytona one) and a California flag, either for a bike flag pole, or even better, as a centerpiece for my vest.

Up the road again. I stopped in at a pharmacy and picked up some earplugs. I noticed a higher than normal ringing in my ears and decided that protection would be a good idea.

So I headed north again. I hadn’t seen much in the way of events and didn’t see as many bikes as I thought I’d see. The lady at the pharmacy commented that many of the bikers had gone to the Orlando Bike Week instead of the Daytona one. I couldn’t tell if she was pleased or not.

Towards the north side of Daytona, I found the Harley area but nothing in the way of parking. I was reaching the end of the time I’d planned on spending in Daytona because of the weather and continued on north.

Fortunately the weather was a bit warmer so for a few miles outside of Daytona but before Jacksonville, I went helmetless again.

There was a shortish traffic stop outside of Jacksonville. Construction shortened it from three lanes to two and an accident delayed traffic.

I continued on around Jacksonville, up into Georgia until I was a little south of Savannah. I hit a Motel 6 and stopped for the night.

The next day, I hit the road at 6am and headed north. The weather was fairly nice. I was able to use my light riding gloves most of the way.

Somewhere around Fayetteville, I ran out of gas and had to use the reserve. That hadn’t happened on the whole trip. I pulled off at the next gas station and ran my card. Whoops, the card failed as well. There goes lunch.

I called a couple of buddies at the office and had them throw a couple of bucks in my account. Good friends are hard to find.

I hit South of The Border and picked up a t-shirt for Victor and headed off again.

When I made it to Virginia, I stripped down to my flannel shirt and jacket and just the single pair of pants.

It was 5:30pm by the time I made it home.

My starting milage was 7730. My ending milage was 9855. Over two thousand miles in 4 days. And I enjoyed every minute of the ride, even the cold.

Next time I think I’ll be looking for the electric gloves and socks and highway bars with soft lowers.

Have a great day and if you hung out this long listening to my story, have another beer on me.


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