Clarksville, TN – I just returned from a four day three night trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s a trip I make at least a couple of times a year. The Smokies are just a couple of hours down I-40 so it’s an easy ride for me.
What began as a three man trip turned into a group of seven brothers eager to take whatever the landscape could throw at us.
Of course we did the Devil’s Triangle, Tail of the Dragon, Wayah Road, the Moonshiner and a day trip to Helen Georgia. We had hot and steamy weather, for the most part, although a portion of the group were drenched in a downpour on Friday afternoon.
On that afternoon, me and another blogger, Memphis Mike, split from the group after riding through the Foothills Parkway. With our hotel in Robbinsville NC, we had to ride the Dragon. Once you arrive at Deals Gap, you can continue on Tapoco Road (129), or you can take the Moonshiner 28 to get to Robbinsville.
I chose the Moonshiner, one of my favorites.
If you’ve never been on the Moonshiner, it’s a combination of twisties, sweepers, hair pin corners and beautiful scenery. Running along the Little Tennessee River, it’s a breathtaking ride.
Along the way, I managed to find myself behind a pickup truck. The driver and her passenger were engrossed in cell phones and conversation with each other, and didn’t pay me an attention.
Normally, most vehicles will pull to the side and let bikers pass, but on this day, that wasn’t going to happen. In fact, we had found ourselves stuck behind MANY vehicles on this day, adding to the frustration of just “poking” along.
I finally managed to pass them, but as I was enjoying the open road to myself, I missed my turn on NC143 that takes me into town. After I turned around and made it back to 143, lo and behold, I converged on the turn with, you guessed it, the pickup truck. Naturally, they wouldn’t yield to me and once again, I was stuck behind this pickup truck.
As you start to roll up NC143, it’s an incline with double yellow lines. Once I got the “single” yellow line, I dropped a gear and blew by the truck, running through the gears like I had been shot out of a cannon.
What happened next just blew my mind.
As I slipped into sixth gear and was cruising along, I saw the blue lights in my rear view mirrors.
“You are KIDDING me” I said out loud. “Where the HELL did he come from?”
On the left side of the road there was a little white church building that had plenty of shade in the front and I motioned to the cop that I was going to turn in there to stop to get off of the main highway.
Once I was parked, I turned the bike off and waited for instructions.
Lt. James Hyde of the Graham County Sheriff’s office came up to me and asked for my driver’s license. After informing him where my gun was, I asked to get off the bike to retrieve my license.
He thanked me for telling him about my weapon, and said I could get off the bike, and that this wouldn’t “take that long.”
I knew I was nailed. I had no excuse and I admitted as such.
He looked at me and said, “listen, the nearest hospital is two counties from here, and the nearest Trauma Center was a helicopter ride, so I need you to slow down and be more careful.”
Wait, what? We’re not doing any paperwork?
Of course I was grateful and told him I would.
Then I asked him, “where were you? I never saw you back there.” He said he had just turned onto 143 when I jumped out around the pickup, and when I took off, he took off after me.
He was truly one of the most professional and courteous deputies I’ve ever met and since this was the first time I’ve ever been pulled over on the bike, I couldn’t have asked for a more nerve settling encounter.
In light of the current state of affairs surrounding our law enforcement community I asked if I could pray with him and he agreed. As I placed my hand on his shoulder and his on mine, I was overwhelmed with the moment.
I prayed for his protection and thanked God for his forgiving spirit. I asked for his continued safety and good judgement. It was just the perfect way to end a hot and frustrating day, standing in front of this little white church, in the hills of North Carolina.
The lesson I learned?
You don’t always get what you deserve. #ticket