Knights rev up for Daytona Bike Week
Two wheels may not move a car, but they do move a community of motorcycle enthusiasts.
From March 6 to March 15, students will ride to the 74th annual Daytona Bike Week to attend almost 100 events, including races, bike displays, meet-and-greets, concerts and more.
"There is something about two wheels that draws riders together no matter what your ride of choice is," said Bryan Dexter, the event manager of UCF's official motorcycle club, Knight Riders.
Dexter, a freshman Aerospace engineering major, said that administrators are working with club members to coordinate a group ride to the event, which is expected to draw more than 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts.
In addition to the musical entertainment that will be blasting from hundreds of different venues, spectators will have a chance to watch the pros as they compete in the Daytona International Speedway's Motorcycle Races. As with any event in Daytona, the beach will not be ignored. Attendees can partake in a 10 mph cruise along the Original American Beach, "just like rally-goers experienced back in 1937, the year of the first beach race," according to a release.
"For our newer members, which we have quite a number of right now, it's a really perfect and fun way to network with other riders," he said.
While the 10-day celebration does offer something for everyone, Dexter said Bike Week appeals primarily to cruiser culture, which has made coordinating which events to attend a challenge for the predominantly sport bike-filled group.
"Even though the event caters toward the Harley culture, there will still be a good amount of sport bikes attending just due to the fact that it's a motorcycle event," Dexter said.
Old and new Knight Riders are taking advantage of the opportunity to meet fellow motorcycle fans in Daytona.
Jordan Christopher, a senior engineering major, is assembling a group and said he hopes to meet more bike enthusiasts such as himself.
"I am looking for a crew to get together to go with because it's a great way to ride safe and meet more people," Christopher said. "I am also trying to see how many people I can connect with and make friends to ride with in the future."
In addition to meeting fellow riders, the event offers visitors other benefits, said Meghan Hughes, the marketing director of the Daytona Chamber of Commerce.
"I think that Bike Week gives students the opportunity to meet folks from different cultures from all over the world while supporting local businesses," Hughes said. "It is also a good opportunity for students to see the redevelopment of Daytona Beach while riding throughout the area."
For the Daytona Bike Week fans, it is sometimes more than just a ride; it's tradition. Sam Sciarappa, who got her first street bike — a ZZR600 — as a graduation present, has gone with her father every year since the third grade.
"It's a tradition for my dad and I to go and ride around and then attend the Super Cross event," she said. "Bike Week is something that one can't describe; it's something you have to experience first hand in order to understand. There's something for everyone there."
For Sciarappa, a sophomore forensic science major, Daytona Bike Week celebrates not only the ride, but the feeling brought on by riding as well.
"The freedom, there's literally no other feeling like it," she said. "I love knowing you can just hop on a bike and go anywhere you want, and that you can't carry much with you. It keeps life simple."
Daniela Marin is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.