A Wake-Up Call from the Highway Patrol

Written by Tim Kessel, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

I left the garage at the crack of dawn.  It was one of those magical mornings. There was little traffic, the road was smooth and winding and the temperature was perfect.  It was one of those rides that inspires a fixed, silly grin.  I was on top of my riding game.  My turns were smooth and my shifting precise. Yes, everything was perfect…until I crested a hill to find a Highway Patrol cruiser staring me in the face.

There was that moment of hope as I passed him.  Maybe he won’t pull a U-turn.  Maybe he is just about to get off shift and just wants to get home.  No such luck.  As I was pulling off my gloves and helmet, I tried to figure just how fast I was going.  Was a warning a possibility?  Just days before, I had bragged to my wife that on the rare occasion that I get stopped, I usually get a warning.  My theory was that my charm and generally genial nature was ticket repellent.

The patrolman was polite as he asked me how fast I thought I was going.  I smiled and said, “I think because I had just crested that hill the descent caused me to creep a bit over the limit.”  The patrolman replied that I was going 61 in a 35.  That got my attention.  That is handcuffing speed.

As he checked my license, registration, and insurance, we chatted about local high school football, and about the upcoming NFL season.  My eternal optimism inspired the delusion that maybe a warning was still possible since we had so much in common.  Could my charm be that powerful?  What my charm (or more realistically, his generosity) got me was a reduction from criminal speeding to…well, really fast speeding.

As I pulled back on to the road – that same road that had only minutes before seemed magical – I started to get mad.  I contemplated how much less of a public danger I am at 26 over the speed limit than a cell phone chatting soccer mom or an over tired trucker.  I thought about how, if I did crash, the only likely injury would be mine, and mine alone.  I thought about my years of riding experience and my premium riding gear.  How could this guy not give me a break?

The fact is that I NEEDED that ticket.  I get one about every 3 years.  Why?  It became clear to me on the ride home that I get full of myself; I get enamored with how good a rider I am.  Somehow, I start to feel that my riding skills put me in some kind of elite class that is separate from the rest of the driving masses.  At some point warnings just don’t cut it.

Having spent many years as a high school teacher, I should have made the connection before.  Giving a kid a break for a one-time faux pas can be a good thing.  However, if a student gets the message that the rules don’t apply to him because he’s smart or charming, there is a problem.  I guess I am that big kid who needed to be reminded that the rules do apply to me. Sometimes consequences need teeth.  It is clear that my throttle hand will be in detention for a while.

So how big was that ticket?  Let’s just say that I will be sending the state a check that is roughly equal to a new Dunlop Pilot rear tire mounted and balanced.  I’ll let you do the math.  I guess my rear tire can last a little longer, especially since I’ll be riding a little slower… at least for a while.