Feb 22’ 2014

With the improving weather I finally got a chance to get out and ride for some distance. Some fellow Wingers, Johnnie, Gene and I all met in Paducah, Ky and road up to Cave-N-Rock Illinois along the Ohio River and then over to the Valley of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest. Had a good ride until I was on my way home along the Trace (Land Between the Lakes) late afternoon after we had all split up.

It was about 4:45 p.m. in the afternoon and I was on the Kentucky side of the Trace along the Land Between the Lakes which is Highway 453 just zipping along south towards Dover, Tennessee and home after a great day riding with friends covering about 300+ miles. Temps were still pretty warm for this time of year and the sun was setting behind the barren winter landscape with little to no traffic within miles. This particular part of the Trace has very very long stretches of straight roads for miles and I was cruising upwards of 60 mph although the speed limit is only 50 mph on the Trace. I was aware of this but was feeling great and unfortunately allowed the moment to get away from me that my speed was excessive. Way up ahead, probably about a mile I see the headlights of a vehicle that was coming towards me pull off and park along the shoulder on their side of the road. There are many little dirt roads along this stretch that join into the Trace that hunters use to park their vehicles while they hunt so I didn’t think much of it at first.

I may have slowed some as I approached but didn’t really let off the throttle. As I rolled by I could see it was USDA Forest Services Ranger and my predicament became crystal clear pretty quick. I slowed some more, as inconspicuous as I could, as I gazed into the rear view mirror hoping for the best but knowing in my heart I was toast. Sure enough the ranger turned around and pursued me with those pretty red and blue lights just a flashing away. There was no where to pull over so I ended up just stopping on the edge of the road and sat there wondering what the next few minutes would bring. I knew I deserved a ticket but was hoping against all odds I might just be able to say the correct words and strike the right tone that might ... just might result in a warning.

The officer approaches and she’s very courteous, professional and direct. She says she clocked me at 65 mph speeding in a 50 mph zone (The entire Trace is 50 mph speed limit). I agreed right away stating rather quickly that I was probably going to fast and that I let the moment get away from me. She asks for License, Insurance, and Registration. I give her my licenses right away and advise her I will have to get off the bike to retrieve the insurance card and registration from the trunk. She grants permission and I dismount grab those two items from the trunk and hand them to her. As I do I tell her I should have know better and that I’m from the area and ride this way often and that I was more than aware of what the speed limit was. She simply says get back on the bike and wait and then returns to her vehicle.

So ... here I sit knowing that based on her demeanor and few words with little feedback that she was going to give me a ticket. There was no doubt in my mind at all as I sat there berating myself for my inattentiveness and arrogance regarding obeying the posted speed limit. To add insult to injury it was also rather humiliating as the cars that drove by us during that time giving me the evil eye I felt like public enemy # 1. After what seemed like and eternity and I mean it was a long long time she had me sit there I finally saw her car door swing open and she was on her way walking back to me with what appeared to be ticket in hand.

To my amazement she hands me back my paperwork and says she is only going to give me a warning notice. I couldn’t believe it and I quickly gave her my heartfelt thanks and said that I really appreciated it and that I would slow down. A few minutes later I was on my way still in disbelief of my good fortune as that would have been a humdinger of fine if she had given me the ticket.

I’d like to say I learned my lesson but I know myself too well. Twisting the throttle on a Goldwing is just to great of a temptation ... and sensation. This won’t cure me of my tendency to speed from time to time. I’m even pretty sure getting a ticket wouldn’t have done that either ... least for too long. Once removed from the threat by the passage of time we all seem to fall back into our old ways. I’ve had my share of tickets on motorcycles over the years and my share of warnings as well yet I still find myself brushing up against the law from time to time and probably always will.

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