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MotorcycleOne of the many things that attracts people to Florida is Bike Week in Daytona Beach.  The weather was not ideal today, with no sun shining, but nevertheless, it was a nice 30-mile motorcycle  ride on the FatBoy.  We stopped for a salad at The Black Sheep in Ormond Beach — one of the many “welcome bikers” establishments which were geared up for the deluge of hundreds of thousands of bikes and riders. 
Daytona’s Bike Week is an annual motorcycle event and rally that attracts approximately 500,000 people from all over the country.  I suspect it would be hard to find a non-conflicted estimator of the size of the crowd, but it is very large.  The 10-day event includes motorcycle racing, concerts, parties, street festivals, and of course a huge presence of vendors selling everything imaginable — and some things unimaginable.  Bike Week is a model when it comes to diversity. You will see people old and young, tall and short, slim and obese, well-clothed and barely clothed, long hair, pony tails, short hair, flat tops, and no hair. There are many couples — last year there were reported to be more than 100 weddings that took place on bikes during the event.  Some bikes are painted with pagan and satanic images, but among the vendor booths are some that pass out “biker Bibles” and others that offer Christian counseling. Speaking of counseling, the biker attornies have a strong presence for both plaintifs and defendants.
Harley-Davidson is to the Bike Week crowd as the iPad is to the tablet computer market — dominant. Every model and color the company makes were present, but of course the hallmark of a Harley is the customization performed by or for the owners. With my normal disclosure that I am a poor photographer, there are a couple of dozen pictures from today here on Facebook. What makes a person a biker? There are as many reasons as there are bikes. For me, it is an enjoyable hobby wherein you see places you don’t notice when driving a car,  and you   meet some very interesting people.
I always get the question from someone who learns I am a rider, “Do you wear a helmet?”. The answer is yes. The three states that I hang out in — Connecticut, Florida, and Pennsylvania — all have no helmet law. Pennsylvania had a helmet law and repealed it. The motorcycling lobby is a strong one. The argument is that helmets obstruct your vision and hearing. I think there is an element of truth to that but it is incontrovertible that falling off of a bike without a helmet is dangerous to your head. There have been a number of scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles that reflect considerable research on the subject. There is no doubt that lack of a helmet is tied to increased mortality. The key from my perspective is to take it as a fact that motorcycling is dangerous and to ride defensively. Assume that a car at a cross intersection does not see you and will pull out in front of you. I believe in the slogan “Ride to live and live to ride”.
On the way home we took the scenic ride along the Old Dixie Highway. The original Dixie Highway was part of the National Auto Trail system, first planned in 1914 to connect the U.S. Midwest with the Southern United States. In total, it is nearly 6,000 miles of segments. The stretch from Ormond Beach to Daytona Beach is quite scenic with a cathedral of overhanging moss and live oak trees.