(I've always said, of the occasional times I've let my gixer run free, that if I get pulled over they won't just bury me under the jail, they'll build a new one over me and name it in my honour...)
"Riding out of Darlington County,
My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
Riding out of Darlington County,
Saw Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper's Ford."
-- Bruce Springsteen
This is a story about, uh, my, uh friend, yeah, my friend... um... yeah, Wayne! that's it, my friend Wayne. Seems I^H^Hhe had to be in Greensboro on Saturday by ten, see, and by the time he'd filled up the tank of the GSX-R1100 in Cary it was 9:30. So he made up some time on the way...
All went well at first. He had a chance to give the gixer an Italian tune-up most of the way, only having to slow down for a couple of cops on I-85, both of whom turned off after a couple of exits, letting Wayne get back up to speed again.
Actually all went well all the way up to the exit in Greensboro. He turned off on Lee street heading for downtown, and spotted a state trooper up ahead cruising along, so he dropped down and matched speeds, about an indicated 60. That trooper was moving right along, because it was a 45 limit. No matter -- as Wayne had said in email to a friend a few days before, "I didn't buy this bike to observe the freakin' speed limits."
Wayne was a little bummed that his average speed on the Interstate was lower than what became (as he saw the possibility of it) his target, but no problem. It was not far to go now.
The state trooper pulled off into a side street.
Wayne didn't speed up, though, as some guy in a big Ford (with running lights, for crissake!) was tailgating him. He checked the mirrors hard several times, and eventually saw the turn signal come on.
But the car didn't pull out, and that turn signal was awfully bright...
Wayne checked his mirrors again, shifting on the bike so he could actually see more than 6 inches of the car beyond his elbow. The left bright white turn signal was flashing. It was alternating with the right bright white turn signal. And there was a blue strobe light on the dashboard...
"Isn't it ironic" -- Alanis Morrisette
Wayne's heart sank. After an Interstate run like that, he gets pulled for a measly 60 in a 45. Like, bummer, dood!
So he signalled (he always uses his turn signals, even on the Interstate blast), pulled over, shut down, and pulled off his helmet and gloves. He turned towards the officer, who was walking over to him.
"Good morning, sir," said the officer.
"Good morning," said Wayne, thinking of his insurance rates, "What can I do for you?"
"Well, let's start by going back to the Interstate, where you sucked my doors off," he said with a smile.
"Take you for a ride, Maximum Overdrive" -- 2 Unlimited
Wayne stopped thinking of insurance and started thinking of bail. He thought, "Well. This is it." He said nothing; goodness knows what his face revealed.
"Do you even remember that?" the officer said.
"No, I don't remember that," said Wayne truthfully with a nervous laugh. I mean, if he'd known he was blowing by an unmarked car he wouldn't have blown by it, if you see what I mean. He did reflect that "sucked my doors off" was probably not an exaggeration.
"Well, I had a hard time pacing you there because you were moving so quickly, but back where you turned off on Lee I got you at 65 in a 45."
"Relax. It's just a little pinprick" -- Pink Floyd
Wayne relaxed. He tried not to relax visibly, but he thoughts were "Thank goodness. A good lawyer might be able to get my licence back." At this point, settling for a 65 in a 45 seemed like a very good option. He took on the look most serious speeders do when they're caught in the police/rider sport, and said something instinctive like, "Oh. I'm sorry."
"Do you have a licence?"
"Yes, right here," said Wayne, and pulled out his wallet from his grey/black Aerostich. He opened it to show the officer, who asked him to take it out and give it to him... and the registration, please. Of course he had two registrations in the wallet, but sorted out which was the gixer and which was the Intruder, and handed the officer the right one.
"Are you from Greensboro?"
"No, I live in Cary."
"Where are you going?"
"Um, the Elliot Center, I think, I've got a map here..." Wayne pulled out his map, not that he'd be needing it now, of course, since the officer was clearly going to keep his licence.
"Go on take everything, take everything, I want you to" -- Hole
"Why are you here?"
"I'm going to a training session to be a peacekeeper for the Gay Pride March in June."
The officer hadn't heard of it (it's in Winston-Salem, so in retrospect that's not unreasonable). He stepped away and stood for a while, examining the licence and registration.
The officer returned. "No doubt to haul me off to jail," thinks Wayne.
The officer said, "Mr. Wheeler, you're a lucky man. You see, I ride a bike too, and I realise that these things sometimes happen. By the way, in Greensboro these (he waved at his Crown Vic LTD) are usually black. You might want to watch out for that." He handed over the licence and registration, smiled and went back to his car.
Wayne was shocked but grateful, and with renewed respect for the officers of the law. He hadn't previously realised it was possible to ride the big gixer at or below all speed limits, but he now did... both to his destination and all the way back to Cary afterwards.
Of course, the trip back took and hour and a half, while on the trip out on the Interstate he'd covered 64 miles in 34 minutes...
"Skating away, on the thin ice of new day" --
Wayne did have some comments on the speed run. First, of course, was the observation that some of those I-40/I-85 sweepers are a blast at 130. Then there's the fact that he now has independent confirmation that his speedo reads low: while the officer was pacing him (and Wayne's attention was distracted by the trooper ahead), he was doing an indicated 60, which apparently is a real 65. That makes his peak speed on the I-40/I-85 run an actual 173mph (an indicated 160)... at which speed the bike was still accelerating. Another observation is that once you're running around 140-150, the traffic around you might as well be stationary... if a cager up ahead starts to shift into your lane (and of course he has had no chance to see you, with the blue shift effect and all), he just can't move fast enough to get in your way before you're gone. At high speed, though, the steering is very heavy -- you have to look ahead as far as you can (ideally a mile or two) to plan your way through traffic. The gixer was rock solid all the time, except when hitting one rough bridge at about 110 -- that started a minor headshake which damped almost instantaneously.
Other lessons: at 110-130 (which is what Wayne was almost certainly doing when he sucked the cop's doors off) you can't see if that LTD has an NC Permanent plate. Also, the police now have cars with daytime running lights (never seen one of those before). Antennas? How the heck would I know? At that speed, Wayne had no chance to check out antennas...
Another lesson: Police are nice guys with a hard job. Some police are real nice guys who now have stories that will get them free beers for the next ten years. :-)
Also: even folks who've been riding (often fast) for twenty years can get caught out.
A serious thought: Wayne has used up all our luck for a long time, not just his but to come out without a ticket he must have sucked on the Biker Luck Pool of all of us. Let's slow down and be careful.
As for Wayne (did you notice the officer called him Mr. Wheeler? Just a coincidence, I assure you, we're not strictly related), he says that not only will he slow way down now for a while, but won't ever do that again. He's glad he had the chance to have a run like that, certainly the fastest he's ever been on a land vehicle, and now knows what an Italian Tune-Up on a GSX-R1100 would look like, but once in a lifetime is enough, thank you very much. He has always had a clean licence and intends to keep it that way.
"There's an angel standing in the sun
And he's crying with a loud voice,
This is the supper of the mighty one.
Lord of Lords, king of Kings,
Has returned to lead his children home
To take them to the new Jerusalem."
Presented for your entertainment and enlightenment by:
-------------firstname.lastname@example.org----(Martyn Wheeler)----DoD #293-------------
SAS Institute, Inc: (919) 677-8000 ext.7954 H: (919) 677-0330 (Cary, NC)
"I have a vision of a very calming place" -- single gun theory