It was one of those rare days in early spring when the sun was shining, the temperature was in the high 60s and the road was calling. Taking a ride to Sussex Hills Ltd., a shop in the far reaches of northwest New Jersey, to discuss a planned product install was a good excuse to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. When our business was concluded, I headed toward home.
The hour-long ride to the shop was so enjoyable I decided to take the long way home, meaning that I would stay on SR-23 for about 20 miles. Route 23 that far north is basically a curvy, rural two-lane with lovely scenery provided courtesy of Wallkill River National Wildlife Reserve and its environs. The downside is that if you happen to get behind a truck, it makes for very slow progress. Sure enough, I came up on a dump truck going about 10 miles less than the already-conservative speed limit. Two cars were in front of me, and one by one, they waited for opportunities to pass over the double yellow.
Then it was just me… and the truck, which was now inching up an incline, with its four-way flashers taunting me. He’d moved over to the right of the lane and I saw my chance. I cracked the throttle and my ThunderMax-equipped FLD blasted past the truck in what seemed like less than a second. What a rush!
I looked behind me and saw that another car was doing the same thing. Except that this car had a light bar. Looking down at my speedometer, I made sure I was well within the speed limit, hoping against hope that the police car now in back of me was just on his way to lunch or somewhere else. Anywhere else. We did our little dance for a few miles and then the lights and siren came on.
Coming to a stop on the shoulder of the road, I did what I learned from watching cop shows on TV. I shut the ignition off and just sat there, waiting for the cop to make the first move. He walked up to the bike and asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” I responded, “Well, I wasn’t speeding…” (The TV shows make it clear that cops hate when you lie.) He said, “You passed that truck on a double-yellow line.” I innocently explained, “Well, he was crawling and turned his flashers on and pulled over to the right so I thought he was indicating I should pass him.” The officer replied, “If you go below 45 on a state road, the law requires you to put your flashers on. He wasn’t telling you to pass.” I arranged my best look of surprise on my face, and said, “Oh. Well, I don’t even think I went over the yellow line.” “Doesn’t matter. May I have your license, registration and insurance, please?”
I gave him the requested documents and he handed my insurance card back, saying, “This is the wrong one.” Not surprising, because I carry insurance cards for one SUV and three motorcycles. But then I saw that it had expired in December 2012. I fumbled around for the correct one, and instead found that all my motorcycle insurance cards expired in December 2012. I said, “I must have forgotten to put the new ones in my wallet.” He rolled his eyes and exclaimed, “You’re killing me!” And then, “Do you have any violations on your record?” I shook my head to indicate that I didn’t, and he told me he’d be right back. While he was gone, I thought about all the places I’d ridden since my insurance had expired, Daytona being the most major of the road trips. Good thing this didn’t happen in Florida…
Less than five minutes later, he walked back over and somberly intoned, “I’ve got some bad news for you. Your license is suspended.” I blurted out, “No, it isn’t!” while asking myself if I even renewed my insurance for 2013. He said, “Only kidding. You’re fine,” and started to laugh, enjoying his little joke at my expense. “Just take it easy, OK?” I humbly thanked him and promised to behave myself, and really did take it easy the rest of the way home.
Well, that promise lasted until my next excursion. I did make it all the way down to Outer Banks Bike Week without incident. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the roads were clear the entire 450 miles to the Outer Banks. On the way home, I made sure to stick to the speed limit in Virginia, where I’d received a ticket about a dozen years prior. I heaved a sigh of relief as I entered Maryland, and began to relax a little. Traffic flowed smoothly, except where U.S. 13 passes through the more populated areas and traffic signals allow ingress and egress to and from shopping centers. The car in front of me was positively crawling, and I was calculating the distance between that and the car in the lane to my left. I shot forward, ready to make my move, when I heard a gawd-awful sound. I looked down—was it my bike? I realized it was a klaxon coming from the car next to me, then looked over and saw a cop leaning way over the passenger seat, gesturing wildly and mouthing the words, “Slow down! Slow down!” I nodded my head and exaggeratedly mouthed, “O-kay!” He seemed satisfied and pulled away. Another bullet dodged.
Although I constantly scan all around me for police cars, both marked and unmarked, I am apparently not very good at recognizing them. This does not bode well for a gal with a lead foot. Next time I might not be so lucky.