This was my first year at the Leesburg Bikefest. I always imagined it being some rinky-dink affair, a pale clone of Daytona’s Bikeweek or Biketoberfest. After all, it’s in Leesburg, a rinky-dink town about 45 miles outside of Orlando, without even the benefit of a beach nearby to draw visitors.
I was absolutely wrong. Leesburg knows how to welcome Bikers. I had such a great time today, with my gorgeous wife. There was easily 10,000 bikers riding and walking through Leesburg. The weather was perfect; not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was around 90-degrees. There couldn’t have been a better day for a bikefest.
I’ve picked up a bad habit of riding helmetless lately. My ride to the office every day is 5.5 miles, is all local roads, and I enjoy the feel of the wind on my face. It’s become so enjoyable for me that I decided to ride to Leesburg today without my helmet. Carey, a little nervous, decided to do the same, even though I asked her multiple times to wear a helmet. I ended up getting a sunburn on my head today as a result. For those of you who think I am an idiot for not wearing a helmet, that should give you an “I told you so” moment. I know it’s irresponsible to ride without a helmet. You don’t have to preach to me. I get it.
Once we arrived, helmetless, we quickly found parking and walked the event. Unlike Daytona, where the booths are all set up at the Speedway and the “walk” is on Main Street, Leesburg has everything strewn all through the downtown area. There were multiple bands playing, plenty of refreshment and beer stands set up, the standard “crazy biker” events like bike passengers trying to eat a dangling hotdog while riding under at 10 miles per hour, and lots of vendors.
The space, while crowded, was much much less crowded than Daytona. I enjoyed being able to walk around, for the most part, unhindered. If you’ve ever been to Daytona Bike week, you’re familiar with the “Main Street Shuffle,” a slow and shuffling gait that gets you from one end of Main Street to the other in about an hour. 1/4 mile in an hour. That’s how crowded Main Street in Daytona is.
While there was a little “Main Street Shuffle” in Leesburg, it was much better than Daytona, with the added benefit that you didn’t HAVE to walk Main Street. There were vendors and events all along the side streets. You only had to walk Main Street if you wanted to see the bikes rolling up and down the street.
From an attendee perspective, Leesburg has all the usual suspects. The muscle-bound biker going shirtless. The toothless, pudgy, biker – also shirtless. The wannabe hardcore bikers who don’t even know how to handle their bikes. The older ladies wearing far too few articles of clothing. The young hotties showing less skin that I liked.
All in all, I have to say I really, really, enjoyed the Leesburg Bikefest. A much more mellow crowd than Daytona, a bit more mature, and much easier to navigate that Daytona. In some ways, I think I prefer the Leesburg event to the Daytona event. I will definitely be going back next year.
Take a gander at some of the pics I took on my Android phone today. Enjoy.