By September 29, 2009

An unusual companion

I came home early today, and as I merged onto the toll road portion of my commute, I noticed a strange motorcyclist/motorcycle combination.

I was still pretty far off, but from his riding posture, attire, and motorcycle I got the impression he was a motorcycle law enforcement officer. The tan, short-sleeve shirt, the upright riding position forced by a bullet-resistant vest, and the low-slung but voluminous saddlebags on the cruiser-style bike all fit the profile of a mounted cop.

As I approached, however, things didn’t add up. The saddlebags were leather and not metal or plastic as seen on other police bikes. As I approached, I noted his helmet was a “skid lid” style and not the three-quarter helmet commonly worn by officers. The motorcycle was out of spec, too — it was a metallic red Harley with chrome pipes. He was, however, wearing a county police officer’s uniform, complete with duty belt and service pistol.

What followed was the most amusing and interesting riding companion I’ve had to date. A motorcycling police officer who wasn’t a motorcycle police officer; someone who was to obey the rules of the road yet motored by the motorcyclist’s rules of survival.

I rode behind him and offset to one side, as is the recommendation by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and other organizations. This allowed us to present the biggest profile to other traffic, and at least six headlights — as I run four forward lights on my bike. I kept a medium distance from him, close enough to discourage cars from getting in between us, but not so close as to crowd him.

It happened that he followed me almost all the way home, and lives somewhere in my (rather large) subdivision. I could tell that he was new, or recently returned, to motorcycling by the way he navigated the sweeping turns on the way home. He kept high in the turn and was reluctant to establish a tight line that you would expect from a sportbike rider. I kept a respectful distance, but leaned the bike over a lot more and did a more traditional outer-inner-outer line. He was nervous when he merged with traffic, and I did my best to get into a lane before him and communicate with him via arm signals. In essence, I ran blocker on the majority of the highway part of the commute home.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure where he was headed, so when we exited the highway I gave him a crisp (albeit left-handed) salute. I really enjoyed following him, and he made a good unusual companion on an otherwise mundane ride home.

Posted in: motorcycling

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