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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 West.”






This article is from Biker Number 175 October 1999 an Easyriders magazine.

Photography by Rogue.




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