Monday began wet, but turned sunny in time for those clad in leather — or in one case natural fur — to enjoy the continuing Bike Week party on Main Street. Here are some of their stories.
Screws spiked out like porcupine quills from Jesse Edwards’ mud-colored motorcycle helmet. If that weren’t foreboding enough, a machete hacked dead-center into the dome did the job. The menacing head gear labeled “Capt. J” hung on the driver seat of Edwards’ trike Monday afternoon. Built with his own hands from spare motor home parts, it sort of resembled a desert dune buggy left over from “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Edwards hears that reference often, but the shared likeness is pure happenstance, he said. “I’ve never seen the movie.”
He once delivered sailboats by sea to far-flung ports in Africa and the South Pacific — hence the “Captain” moniker — to earn enough money to support his Harley-Davidson racing hobby. But a leg injury induced by a stroke threw off his balance. After a few spills, he built the trike. He brings it to Bike Week every year from his home in Crystal River, arriving early each morning to secure a parking spot to people-watch along Main Street.
Hemi the dog has been to Bike Week for the past seven or eight years, according to his owner, Ken Amdahl. They staked out a concrete bench in the shade and Hemi appeared to be passed out, red goggles with darkened lenses stretched across his fluffy face.
Hemi didn’t seem to notice all the passersby snapping pictures and commenting on his cuteness. “He’s drunk,” Amdahl said, laughing. “He was in Froggy’s earlier.”
How many cold ones did Hemi throw back? “He had two beers — Budweisers,” Amdahl said. “He’s the only thing I got that’s paid for.”
Made in America
Forty-nine weeks out of the year, the S.P. Leather shop on Main Street is vacant. But for the three weeks in March and October when bikers cruise the corridor, Sergio Perez and his partner, Michelle Bills, design American-made custom leather pieces for motorcycles and sell apparel ranging from fringe jackets to whips. They have a factory back home in Cleveland, Ohio.
Bike Week started “a little slower this year,” Bills said, seated in front of a sewing machine. Monday morning’s rain also delayed crowds, but by early afternoon she was busying peeling old patches from a black leather jacket and lining up the insignia that would replace them — American and Confederate flags to fit over the wearer’s heart.
Two young children she shares with Perez played in the rear of the store while Bills sewed. Their customer-turned-friend Chip Best, whom Perez and Bills dubbed “Chip the Ripper,” planned the Harley-Davidson snakeskin wings he wanted her to sew on his denim jacket next.
All three have returned to Daytona Beach Bike Week for the third-straight year. “I think I come down here more to see these guys than for Bike Week now,” Best said.
Robert Powell travels from Pennsylvania every year to hand out red, pocket-sized Bibles during Bike Week. He and his pastor at Murrysville Alliance Church, along with his friend, Jules Shubuck, arrived Friday and hit Main Street on Saturday.
Powell prefers to stand quietly on the sidewalk with a sign rather than verbally engage pedestrians. When people approach and ask, he hands them a New Testament. He said he and his associates gave away 1,100 Bibles on Saturday and another 600 on Sunday.
He’s encouraged by the stories he’s heard from people whose lives were changed by reading the biker Bible. “It’s very rewarding,” he said.