26Th ANNUAL KEY WEST POKER RUN
I had been putting in a lot of long
hours for too many days, and I was really looking forward to going
on the Miami to Key West, Florida, Poker Run.
The night I was supposed to leave,
hurricanes and tropical storms were tearing up things down in the
Islands. The possibilities of them hitting Florida was very strong.
In Melbourne, it was raining so hard you could hardly see the road.
On top of that I had to stay late at work to get some bikes ready
for delivery, so things weren’t looking so good.
I had decided that I was making this
run come hell-or-high-water, but figured I had a better shot at it
in the morning. I walked out of the garage just as the sky was
beginning to lighten. The air smelled fresh and clean after last
night’s rain. Having a cup of coffee as the bike warmed up I looked
at the sky to the south and it was bright and clear
Pulling out I noticed the road was
already drying. Listening to the sound coming up from a well-tuned
engine’s exhaust in the early quiet of the morning gave me a good
feeling. Heading for the Interstate I knew the bike wanted to go as
bad as I did. Pulling on to the 95 South I headed for the left lane
and ran it up to a little over the speed limit, and set the throttle
lock. It didn’t take long for a sense of relaxation to set in. No
pager, no phone, just me and the bike and the highway. . . out for
an early morning ride.
By the time I had stopped to meet up
with some friends Tammy, Shawn, and Daniel, and made it to Phil
Peterson’s Miami Harley-Davidson, the sun had risen and I was
pleasantly warm. I got to see Ace and some other old friends, signed
up for the run and started out on the first leg of 152 miles that
would take me over 42 bridges and through some of the most scenic
area in the country.
The first stop is always the Last
Chance Saloon in Florida City, even though most of the time it is
not part of the run. The Caribbean Club in Key Largo was the first
official stop, then on to Holiday Isle in Islamorada, Gary’s Pub in
Marathon, the Boondocks in Ramrod Key, and ending up at Home’s
Motorcycle Shop in Key West.
The run was started by Mike Horne and
Phil Peterson in August of 1972. A group of 46 riders (most from the
Miami Mustang Motorcycle Club) made the run. For 17 years the run
was on the third Saturday of August. It was eventually changed to
the third weekend in September to prove to the Chamber of Commerce
just how much the bikers were bringing to the local economy. The run
has grown over the years and was expanded to two days to accommodate
the 20,000 riders that attended.
EDITORS NOTE: Mike and Debby Horne of
Horne’s Harley-Davidson informed us that the Florida Keys’ Poker Run
HAS BEEN CANCELLED for September 17-19, 1999. The City Commission
made it obvious that they didn’t want the kind of people and noise
that the Poker Run brings to their community. Although there is no
poker run, it has been noted that it IS a “great time to visit Key