Friday, September 21, 2012

Autumnal Equinox 2012:–1 Day

This rally has seen less planning than previous rallies on my part. I believe that’s partly due to the fact that I’m having to figure out less and more stuff is just ready to go. Plus this week was filled with the bike retrieval from Boston. NO, the new bike isn’t going on this rally.

I left the house a little after 9am and headed north through Houston. The plan was simple, take 59 up to Nacogdoches, then follow 259 up into Oklahoma so I could go ride the twisties above Broken Bow, OK. The ride was great. One thing I noticed however, was the abundance of LEOs patrolling the roadways. Before I reached Nacogdoches I think I saw more patrol cars than I saw on the entire Butt Lite 6IX in August.

When I got up into Oklahoma and my favorite twisties I detoured onto the Talimena Byway to double check the GPS coordinates of a bonus submission I had sent in. They were good but I collected a closer set of coordinates just in case.

I was trying to make it to the rally master’s house by 6pm because that’s when dinner was supposed to be served. With all the traffic enforcement I had seen I really wasn’t pushing it hard at all. I was just following the prompts of my GPS and watching the road.

Just after 5pm I was cruising along the Muskogee Turn Pike going a few miles over the post speed limit of 75mph. I saw an Oklahoma State Trooper on the shoulder so I moved to the other lane and kept going. I had my cruise set and I didn’t think much about him. Within a mile of so I come to an Oklahoma toll booth. To say the signage is busy at their toll booths would be an understatement. I see a speed limit decrease warning sign, then 200 feet later it’s 65mph, 200 feet later it’s 55mph, 200 feet later it’s 45mph, 200 feet later it’s 35 mph and then 100 feet later it’s 30 mph. Plus in between the 35 and 30 mph signs there’s a radar sign telling you to slow down if you are going to fast. It was telling me to slow down which I was doing.

As I go through the actual toll booth proper, I look in my rear view mirrors to see a police cruiser about to run me over with his lights flashing. Unsure exactly if he’s going somewhere or if he’s after me I quickly cut across the lanes of traffic past the booths and pull over. He followed so I decided he was interested me. I turned off the bike, put my side stand down, raised the front of my helmet so I could clearly be seen and waited.




[insert photo of Oklahoma State Trooper Jacob Smith Badge # 299 Troop XB ]

I’ll just say it didn’t go so well. I was happy not to have been shot or thrown into the back of the patrol car. Bottom line, I felt like Officer Smith was disrespectful toward me and treated me as one of America's most wanted criminals when all I had done was exceed the speed limit by 5mph, a margin that most officers in most states wouldn’t even talk to you about. Maybe he just had a thing against motorcycle riders who wore all the gear because it seems almost no one in OK wears anything more than a t-shirt. Or maybe there was some other outside factor affecting his day. But the interaction with him did not seem consistent with my infraction.

With the citation fiasco completed I resumed my travels heading to Broken Arrow, OK. The rest of the trip was uneventful and I arrived just after 6pm. Several other riders were there so we visited for a while. There were some new faces as well as those I already knew.

I think dinner finally came off the grill a little after 7pm and then we received our rally flags, I mean rally balloons. At first I was sort of disappointed, after all part of riding the rally is so that you’ll have a cool flag to hang up to remember it by. Well not this time. We had balloons, which I would later come to appreciate for the ease of use during the rally.

We were also told about the game changer bonus in this rally, as if Pandora’s box wasn’t enough already. We had the chance to gain 1,000 points for each Iron Butt Photo Tag post we successfully made. Photo tag what???? The premise was simple, join in on the pre-existing Iron Butt Photo Tag Facebook site and collect photos of things while you were on the rally. You had to get a picture of the current tag, and then you could post a picture of a new item to be the tag. I initially blew it off because it seemed like it was going to be too distracting during the rally. Plus the current tag was a National Park. The rally master said he would accept the National Cemetery just 45 minutes up the road. My route was tight enough that I wasn’t going out of my way to play the game.

With no more new information dropped on us, it was decided that we should probably get to our hotel rooms for a good night’s sleep. I stayed at the Quality Inn a few miles away and was very pleased with the establishment and staff. It’s definitely where I’ll stay for future rallies. Plenty of food in walking distance, plus a gas station, and the Wal-Mart is just down the road.

Tomorrow the fun begins.

UPDATE 9/28/2012: After a few days and several calls to both the state of Texas and the court in Oklahoma the matter of the ticket has been resolved. I feel I’ve learned a valuable lesson when riding in other states. As a Texas resident I have the privilege to take a defensive driving course (a.k.a. traffic school) if I get a speeding ticket that’s under 10% and if I haven’t taken the class in the last 12 months. However, other states may not extend such privileges to out of state drivers. In that case, I would have a ticket on my record that can count against me in the Texas Drivers License points system. Not to mention the potential impact to my insurance. The bottom line is to pay closer attention to those speed limit signs in other states because out of state tickets won’t always afford the same level of forgiveness.

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