The spring pilgrimage has begun. The white sands and jade waters of Daytona Beach are beckoning and soon hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists will converge on central Florida for the 79th annual Bike Week bash. Daytona has hosted the first major motorcycle rally of the season for 79 years now and the first signs of spring and the promise of Florida sun is the only motivation needed for bikers yearning to ride.

Daytona’s motorcycle roots date back to January 24, 1937, when a handful of riders gathered on the sandy beaches south of town for the “Handlebar Derby.” The 3.2-mile track included a one-and-a-half mile blast up the beach to a sandy, banked quarter-mile turn before riders blazed south on the paved, public road. Another big sandy banked turn awaited them on the other end as they circled back to the beach and up the shoreline. Starting times were dictated by the tide. On that day, Californian Ed Kretz etched his name into the record books as the first winner of the Daytona 200, averaging 73.34 mph on his Indian motorcycle, and a rally was born.

Even though they no longer race up the beach, Daytona Beach Bike Week is still the epicenter of American motorcycle racing every March. The 79th Daytona 200 will be held Saturday, March 14, the perfect springboard for MotoAmerica racers to hone their skills. From fuel stops to tire changes it comes with logistics no other U.S. road race has and though it’s lost a bit of its luster over the years it’s still the most prestigious American motorcycle race. Monster Energy/AMA Supercross kicks off the racing action March 7th as it celebrates a big milestone, the 50th annual Daytona Supercross. The G.O.A.T. himself, Ricky Carmichael, has once again designed the track and the seven-time motocross champion reportedly has included “some really cool throwback elements.” Daytona kicks off the 2020 American Flat Track season as well with the AFT opener taking place Saturday, March 14. This year, “Mr. Daytona” Scott Russell will serve as Grand Marshall of the Daytona TT. We’re curious to see how the new Super Twins format plays out.  We’re also excited to cheer on defending champion Briar Bauman and his brother Bronson because J&P Cycles is sponsoring the Indian Motorcycle factory racing team once again.

Daytona Beach Bike Week also kicks off the custom motorcycle show season. The World Famous Rat’s Hole Chopper Show continues to be the granddaddy of them all, its history dating back 48 years. The Big Daddy Rat trophies are some of the most unique in the biz. Show coordinator Ted Smith has upped the ante by presenting lucky winners a Rat’s Hole Trophy Ring as well, the custom rings created by Frankie Rodriguez of V22LA. Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Chopper Time is a Bike Week institution as well. From the garage-built bikes in the show to the cast of characters who fill the Tropical Tattoo lot, Willie’s is always the place to be on Thursday during the rally. The best part about Willie's is you'll undoubtedly bump into a bunch of old friends at the show. We’re also looking forward to the Perewitz Paint Show at the Broken Spoke Saloon on Wednesday, March 11. Dave and Jody generally hand-paint the prizes, and a Perewitz original is a prized possession.

No trip to Bike Week would be complete without a stroll or two up and down Main Street. It’s the place to go to check out bikes and people watch. The smell of meats on the grill and the sound of music spilling out of just about every joint on the street will fill the air. I’ve caught many solid shows at the Full Moon Saloon. Over at Froggy's it always gets a little crazy in the later hours of night. It doesn’t even have to be dark for Dirty Harry’s to get pretty lit and packing into the Boot Hill Saloon for some good tunes and a strong belt of your favorite beverage is always a good time, too.

Good times can always be had in Ormond Beach out on US-1 as well at the Broken Spoke and Iron Horse Saloons. The Broken Spoke has bike shows going on almost every day and bands playing every night, including the always entertaining Hairball. Our buddy Chris Callen is holding his Cycle Source Custom Bike Show Tuesday, March 10, at the Spoke. We also got wind that Callen has teamed up with Xavier Muriel and a couple other cats to form a band called Black Smoke Sinners who’ll be rocking the joint Tuesday and Thursday nights. Over at the Iron Horse Saloon they're celebrating the venue's 40th anniversary this year. Uncle Kracker will get the party started Saturday, March 7, while the venerable David Alan Coe will keep the steady stream of music flowing with afternoon sets. The Iron Horse is teaming up with Yuengling for a tattoo contest Friday, March 13, while daredevil riders will spin perilous laps inside the Wall of Death nightly.

While you’re out there might as well wheel on out to Destination Daytona and come visit our J&P Cycles retail store. We’ll be having some great deals and are locked, loaded, and ready to throw on new parts for you on the spot. Our lot is always filled with some of the most popular vendors in the industry, so come on out and pay them a visit. Pop on over to Bruce Rossmeyer’s while you’re at it because it’s a world-class Harley dealership. There’s always something going on at Destination, be it bike shows in the Pavilion or the Outlaw Nation Concert Series to the Rhett Rhotten Wall of Death Vintage MC Stunt Show.

From there, it’s easy to jump on the freeway and rumble back to Daytona Beach to hit up the Speedway. Even when it’s not hosting races, fabled Daytona International Speedway is must-see. You can tour the historic facility or even drive into the infield through the Turn 4 tunnel. If you’re eager to see all the newest motorcycles on the market in one location, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Kawasaki, Slingshot, Suzuki, Vanderhall and Yamaha will all be set-up at the Speedway. Better yet, they’re all offering demo rides. Curiously, Honda is offering factory demo rides at RC Hill Honda Powersports over in Deland. A long list of leading companies will be setting up shop in the Midway. We want to be in the middle of the action, too, so you’ll find the J&P Cycles big rig and a bunch of eager associates there as well. Bands will be playing on the Harley-Davidson Thunder Alley stage throughout the week so there’s no shortage of things to see and do at the Speedway.

If that’s not enough to get into, if you’ve never seen coleslaw wrestling before, then you’ve got to get out to Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch.  The “World Famous Cabbage Patch Coleslaw Wrestling” matches go down at 1 p.m. on both Wednesday, March 11, and Saturday, March 14. It’s good old-fashioned biker fun out at Sopotnick’s, but with thousands in cash prizes on the line, the wrestling can get pretty serious. Another highly recommended Bike Week spectacle are the Sons of Speed races. Watching 100-year-old motorcycles going wide open on the banks of New Smyrna Raceway, with its constant element of danger, is thrilling to say the least. The night before the race Hot Leathers is holding a meet-and-greet at its Main Street location where you can chat with some of the competitors including Josh Owens of Moonshiners fame, race creator Billy Lane, and former Buckcherry drummer Xavier Muriel.

Josh Owens with his race face on!

Sometimes a break in the action is needed. Fortunately, there’s plenty of fun day trips close by. Just outside Ormond Beach is the ever-popular stretch known as “The Loop,” an approximately 22-mile ride through a cathedral of Spanish moss covered oaks and manatee-filled waterways that provides a glimpse of Florida’s natural beauty. A little over an hour south is the Kennedy Space Center, a must-see for fans of NASA and space exploration. Head north about the same distance and you’re in St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the U.S. With old Spanish forts and the historic St. George District to explore, the hands of time roll back as you venture down the city’s rustic streets. If you're looking for a quick and easy getaway, you can literally ride your motorcycle on the beach.

Countersteer heads to Daytona Thursday where we’ll kick off Bike Week with Michelin testing their new Commander III tires. The rest of the week we’ll be hitting up as many events and shows as possible, so be sure to check out the site and our social media channels for daily coverage and photos from Bike Week 2020.

We’ve also compiled a schedule of races and bike shows to help plan out your Bike Week but the list is by no means comprehensive. If you know of something cool going on that we missed, please share it in the comment section.

Bike Week 2020 Race Schedule

March 7 – 50th Annual Daytona Supercross at the “World Center of Racing” Daytona International Speedway

March 7 – Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed Vintage Motorcycle Race New Smyrna Speedway

March 8 – 9 – Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross  Daytona International Speedway

Mach 10 – Daytona Vintage Supercross and ATV Supercross  Daytona International Speedway

March 14 – 79th Daytona 200 Daytona International Speedway

March 14 – AFT Opener Daytona TT  Daytona International Speedway

Bike Week 2020 Bike Show Schedule

March 8 – Warren Lane’s True Grit Bike Show Broken Spoke Saloon 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

March 8 – Southern Fried Moto Show Destination Daytona Pavilion  11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

March 9 – Hardcore Cycles Performance Bike Show Destination Daytona Pavilion  12 – 4 p.m.

March 10 – Cycle Source Custom Bike Show Broken Spoke Saloon Registration 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Judging starts at 3 p.m.

March 10 – Daytona’s Original Cabbage Patch – Budweiser Traditional Ride-In Show Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch Registration 11 a.m

March 11 – Perewitz Paint Show  Broken Spoke Saloon  11 a.m. – 4 p.m

March 11 – Full Throttle 10 Class Custom Bike Show  Indian Motorcycle Daytona Beach 11 am. – 4 p.m.

March 12 – Battle of the Baggers & Sound Competition Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch Registration 11 a.m.

March 12 – Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Chopper Time  11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

March 13 – Boogie East Bike Show (1983 and earlier) Annie Oakley’s Saloon  2 p.m.

March 13 -  Yaffe’s Baddest Bagger Bike Show in Midway 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

March 13 – 16th Annual V8 Motorcycle Run 1 p.m.

March 14 – Rat’s Hole 48thWorld Famous Chopper Show Indian Motorcycle Daytona Beach (16 Classes) 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

March 14 – Kory Souza Originals 4thAnnual No-Class Bike Show  Ocean Center  6 – 10 p.m.

March 14 – Full Throttle Magazine Bike Show in Daytona International Speedway Midway 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.