Have you ever noticed that despite generally being a law abiding citizen, whenever you see a police cruiser while riding, you instinctively roll back off the throttle a bit? Or, perhaps pull your foot off the gas when in your car? Thereafter, you check your speedometer in hopes of being within acceptable limits. We’ve all been there. However, there are those times that you just happen to really be cookin.’ I mean ‘haulin’ the mail’ as it were, and wham! there’s Johnny Law, right around the bend or over the next rise. GOTCHA ! ! ! ! TOO LATE. This happens to me with way too much frequency. My affinity for all things fast collides with society’s need for order. Accepting my transgression, I just never get over that initial “DAMMMNNN! !” feeling you get when you see the marked cruiser hidden in the median. It never fails. My personal worst is 125 in 65. Having a gun pointed at your head definitely gets your attention. That little hole at the end looks really big when it’s aimed AT you! And when Mr. Law kicks your motorcycle over, off the kickstand, that’s called “escape option avoidance,” so I’ve been told. Imagine that. I pulled right over. Just like in “My Cousin Vinny.” Loudspeaker: “Get off the bike and put your hands up, walk backwards towards me ten steps and lay down on your stomach.” Jeez, I just bought these leathers, can’t I just kneel? Wrecking the Hayabusa last summer most likely saved my life, if not my license. That Bike got me in WAY too much trouble. Needless to say, I’ve learned there is no place on public highways for triple digit speeds, despite my not so youthful indiscretions of the not so distant past.
That said, there are times and places when you generally are not only safe, but perhaps ‘obliged’ to crack that thing open FULL THROTTLE!! Or, as my friend, Mike DuPonte, would say: “Give it the beans” or “Shovel the Coal.” One place where I am forced to do this is in ‘Alligator Alley,’ on I-75, through the Florida Everglades. It is 83 miles of long, straight, flat pavement. Death by alligator speed bump is the biggest risk. U.S 20 outside Dallas goes for miles with perfect unobstructed flat terrain too. Neither has much speed enforcement. Other places come to mind: anywhere on the Isle of Mann, and most interstates in Nevada. I could list a hundred places with optimum speed opportunity. I rode all around Europe on the Autobahn years ago on a Ducati 750, at its limit, for hours, just as God intended Nothing compares to it here, except track days at the big ones like Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca or Barber Motorsports Park.
I do a lot of miles not only on the bike, but in the car for work. Court to Court and County to County. Inevitably, you collect some yellow paper souvenirs, offensively entitled “Speeding Ticket.” Every driver has, or should have their own plan, when Mr. Law attempts to give out such a souvenir. Mine is this: engage the officer with friendly conversation, quickly apologize, profusely, compliment his accuracy, motorcycle, or ‘beautiful’ jurisdiction and never, ever argue, or deny your infraction. It’s only a ticket, for Pete’s sake. However, if you have 100 pounds of weed in your trunk, that requires a separate plan of action.
Occasionally, my plan does not work, and that’s O.K. too. Duly caught, duly cited. Once in a while, I get pulled over in Georgia by a motorcycle cop who recognizes me from a bike show or the magazine articles or from court, months prior. That really helps, but it’s rare. It’s the tickets out of state that are a real challenge. Georgia plates in North Dakota… you’re getting a ticket! When out of state you’re just like any other schmuck doing 82 in a 65. Best to kiss Mr. Law’s ring at the scene, for a reduced speed on your ticket, as you’re not going back 1,500 miles to fight a $150.00 traffic ticket. You sure don’t want the points following you home from your ‘Grand Canyon’ trip.
On a recent Fall trip from Georgia to New England, me and my riding buddy Chip Cox were a bit overzealous with our speed. We were very polite to Johnny Law, and he was to us as well. We had such a nice time of it, that we asked Mr. Law to pose for a picture, and he kindly agreed. Chip and I each have photos of us receiving our “souvenirs” from this Officer from the great state of New Hampshire. We were in the Kancamangus pass in the New Hampshire mountains. The pass is a 30 mile route through the ‘White Mountains,’ with no houses, lights, cross roads, signs, billboards, people, or civilization in general, not even cops – OR SO WE THOUGHT. We were ‘haulin’ the mail’ (I love to say that!) at the beginning of the pass, and had throttled ahead of the other four in our group, somewhere past ‘Loon Mountain’ Ski Resort. Only one car spotted going the opposite direction the whole way. Of course, it was a cop. Nothing worse than seeing a tire-squealing, blue-smoked u-turn performed by a police cruiser in your rear view mirrors. That said, this guy could not have been friendlier. I surmise he pulled us over just to have someone to talk to. Turns out he too was a biker and clocked us not too much over the limit. He gave us written warning mainly for the photo op, and agreed to slap me in cuffs when our buddies caught up with us. We were going to punk them by pretending he found weed on me and he was going to sternly advise them: “YOUR BUDDY SAYS THE MARIJUANA BELONGS TO YOU ALL, SO YOU’RE ALL GOING TO JAIL!!!” We all started to laugh so hard, the plan unraveled before it began, but it was funny nonetheless.
For me, speeding tickets just aren’t what they used to be. Once you get a few, the excitement just isn’t there anymore. And once a cop kicks your bike over so you can’t escape, it’s hard to top that. I’ve had my fun. Now, I set the cruise at 9 over limit. No fuss no muss and no yellow souvenirs.
Well, signing off for now. Ride strong, ride safe and in the end, make sure you ride home.