Miami - Sanford - Leesburg - Palatka - Miami
Our trip to the Leesburg Bikefest from April 23rd-24th traditionally started at our usual gas station in Miami. We went through the itinerary and set off.
Our route lay along the most beautiful roads of Florida. By night we reached Stanford where we stayed for the night in a small but very cozy hotel called Monroe’s: On The Lake, located, obviously, on the shores of Lake Monroe. We could see the placid mirror of the lake through our windows. We were so inspired by this small quiet and cozy resort town that we decided to do some extra reading on it, and now we’d like to share with you what we’ve learned.
Long before Europeans arrived in South America, the area was inhabited by the Timucuan tribe. However, infectious disease and wars devastated the tribes and they were no longer in existence by the mid-18th century, when Seminoles started settling in those areas. During the Second Seminole War in 1936 the US Army built a camp by the lake called Monroe and laid a road known today as Mellonville Avenue. The city of Stanford is some 20 miles northeast of Orlando. Despite its active economic development, Stanford still preserves the old traditions in architecture and culture. That is what attracts both American and foreign tourists to the city.
We took an evening walking tour around the streets of this nice city and the next morning we were on our way towards Leesburg, the place of the famous Leesburg Bikefest.
But first, a little bit of history. Leesburg, which is today the host city of a major motorcycle festival, was first settled in 1857 by Evander McIver Lee. The settlement of Leesburg was first mentioned in a written document in 1857 and was incorporated as a city in 1875.
In the beginning of the 20th century Leesburg was an important center for watermelon production. The annual tradition of the Watermelon Festival lasted until watermelon production in the area dwindled to the point of the abolition of the festival after 1957.
Since 1997, the famous Leesburg Bikefest is held in the city, attracting bikers from all over the world.
This year the festival was held from April 22 to 24. The 20th anniversary edition was held on a grand scale. There were 40 show platforms. The organizers brought an unforgettable motorcycle light show and numerous test drives. Leading motorcycle manufacturers, including the legendary Harley Davidson, presented their expositions at the festival. The hallmarks of the event obviously were the bikini contest and the tattoo expo. A record number of 250 000 visitors came to the anniversary Festival.
The atmosphere of the Festival is something worth specifically mentioning. The whole historical center of Leesburg was given over to bikers: the roads were closed for any vehicles except motorcycles; all the shops and stores sold motorcycles, equipment and themed souvenirs. There were 85 live music gigs that were held non-stop on 85 stages. Over 250 cafes and restaurants opened their outlets for the visitors.
The atmosphere of the Leesburg Bikefest is indeed unique. We met lots of likeminded people and made great connections, and we didn’t feel like leaving this wonderful place at all.
While in the area, we couldn’t help visiting our favourite place, Palatka. There we dined in a biker-friendly café, exchanged our thoughts of the ride, and headed back towards Miami via tiny and sleepy American towns.
The road we were riding was very picturesque and just perfect for motorcycles.
By night we were home and telling the stories of our trip and showing the photos and videos to our families. It is really great that our nearest and dearest support our love of motorcycling and are always ready to listen to our stories! We’d like to thank our families for their support and understanding. It really means a lot to us!