My stepmother claims there are genes from my father’s side that program all males in the family to have run-ins with the police and airport security. Of course, that kind of statement doesn’t fit into my worldview so I dismissed it out of hand. A confrontation like that seemed especially remote as I donned my helmet and clipped in to begin the High Trestle Trail route in central Iowa this weekend.
Instead, what was on my mind was Plan B, since Plan A was meeting a friend whom I just couldn’t find. Plan A would have made the fifty mile trip an all-day adventure; Plan B was to take minimal stops and be done within three hours. I had to stop once thanks to my prior two cups of coffee, but I was head-down making good time when I approached an intersection manned by two policemen. That was no surprise, since it was a special day for the High Trestle Trail and, like the previous year, police were stationed at a few of the intersections along the way for the benefit of the bikers.
One of the officers looked at me, said something, and made some kind of motion. Ever mindful of my duty to the magistrate, I came to a stop and asked what he was saying. Said he: “Make sure you stop at the sign.” Said sign was thirty feet ahead. Well, thought I, one should stop a biker neither for casual conversation nor to tell him he needs to stop in another thirty feet. Clearly the officer was not really understanding what his role was on the trail that morning. You have the context now, right? Now here come the only words I said at that intersection:
You don’t stop a biker to tell him he has to stop!
After that I hop-pedalled to the intersection with the stop sign, stopped, then went on my way with a little more vigor to make up for the interruption. I began to put that interruption behind me both geographically and mentally when I heard a four-wheel vehicle of some kind come up off the trail to my left. I casually glanced at the vehicle and wondered why it was going so fast. Well, you know what happened next: the officer pointed at me and pointed to the side of the trail, telling me to pull over. For a microsecond I wondered what a chase might be like, since I think I can outpedal golf carts, but both the reality that it was not a golf cart and recognition of my duty to the magistrate compelled me to stop.
Well, then, words were said. The officers said things like “disorderly conduct” and “Let’s go over in the shade and write up your ticket.” I said a few things myself, like “Did I call you a name? Did I insult you? Did I go through the stop sign? Did my words start a riot back there at the intersection? Please, let’s go to court and tell our stories!” But eventually we talked through the matter, left on good terms, and I went on my way again without being weighed down by a ticket.
You asked whether I still finished the trip on time? My official time on Map My Ride was 2:58:01.