Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nice Meeting You Again, Officer Watson!

On Thursday, January 14, at about 2:30, I again set out to travel home from Waxahachie. I was looking forward to a shower, calcium supplements, a balanced and adult sized meal, and coffee. (Mmm, coffee!)

A light rain began falling as I proceeded. I was concerned that I would be able to maintain my core body temperature if I got soaked. I was wearing an athletic breathable fabric undershirt and two cotton based sweaters, as well as tights, shorts and toe covers. Oh, and a neck gaiter. I wished I had my hat.

I wondered what an experienced all winter cyclist like Rantwick would do in my situation. (An hour long drive home with inadequate clothing.) I decided he would call Mrs. Rantwick! But alas, I couldn’t find anyone to loan me a cell phone with international access, so I abandoned the notion of calling her.

The wet conditions really concerned me. Texas automobile drivers seem to have no knowledge whatsoever about the maximum speed law. (Known as the Basic Speed Law everywhere outside of Texas.) But on the previous day, I had noticed that it had been a long time since the shoulders of Hwy 287 had been swept. Crossing that minefield, with my vision impaired because of my glasses and poor traction, it was an equally daunting prospect. Remember, the vast majority of my solo crashes have been in wet conditions.

I drove on the roadway.

The police pulled me over within a few yards of where they stopped me the previous day.
And who should step out of the Ennis Police unit? None other than Officer Watson!

“We have to stop meeting like this, Officer Watson.” I quipped.

“Mr. Bates, you are under arrest;” he said. “for impeding traffic.”

I asked if I could turn off my taillight. He gave his permission, and I flipped my front break release as well.

He asked me to remove my back pack, and I asked if I should take off my gloves and put them in as well, and that was OK with him too.

He took me around to the passenger side of the car and put me in the back. There was a little more room here than there was in the Ellis County cruiser, but not much. Before he put me in, I invited him to remove my front wheel when he stowed my bicycle to make it easier.

Sgt. Sifuentes showed up as backup as Officer Watson wheeled my bicycle to my door and opened it to ask me for directions on how to remove my front wheel. Thank you, sir!

Because of all the computer and radio equipment in the trunk space, my bicycle would not allow the trunk lid to close. Using his initiative, Officer Watson used a trash bag to keep the lid partially shut. Thank you, sir!

We had a friendly conversation on the way to the Ennis PD jail. Officer Watson was curious about me going to jail the night before, and he talked a little bit about a previous job he held, a point in common between us.

As I exited the vehicle, I warned Officer Watson of my concern about walking on hard surfaces in my cycling shoes. As we went down a flight of narrow cement stairs, his steadying hand was comforting, and perhaps even necessary. Thank you, sir!

I will jump over the part of being booked and my second night in jail until tomorrow, except for some comments about what happened when I was processed out:

There were some surprises! I discovered that they had examined the contents of my seat bag. Perhaps they expected to find a syringe and EPO in there!

But when I opened the plastic property bag, there was a strange small paper bag inside, tagged with my name. Looking inside, I found that my hat had been returned to me! How cool is that?

Someone had to go a substantial distance out of their way to return it to me. To a different department too. It was a small thing, just a simple cycling cap. But I reckon it as a big deal. That was really nice.

So free again, I proceeded to impede traffic all the way home.


  1. So, when these guys toss you in the hoosegow, do they offer you coffee? If so, is it any good? I'm thinking Chip may have some ulterior motives here and may be on to a good thing.

    Seriously, it's hard to believe these guys haven't researched the statutes a bit better by now, considering there seems to be little real crime for them to pursue out in Ellis County. The level of courtesy they offer is a sign they're not really feeling real good about all this.

    And it's late January now, what about the first introdution to Officer's Watson & Pillow. That would seem to hold the key to all these later incidents and, perhaps, someone having a lot of explaining to do.

  2. You'd think the number one priority for law enforcement would be safety, but as ChipSeal's story illustrates, it is not. It is keeping the cars moving fast (or at least helping their drivers sustain the illusion of going fast).

    Some years ago I gave a presentation on pedestrian laws to a local law enforcement group, and in response to the explanation that legal, unmarked crosswalks are present across major arterials at every unsignalized intersection, a Florida Hwy. Patrolman said, "I'm not going to stop six lanes of traffic on SR 436 so some guy can cross the street to get a Frosty at Wendy's."

    In far too many places, motorist speed takes precendence over the rights and safety of both cyclists and pedestrians.

  3. Well I kinda imagined this was next. Boo! Did you ever get the video/audio from the Oct ticket?

    Once again good job keeping it civil!

  4. I am insulted. I would ride home miserable and cold and wet, get pneumonia and shiver for days before I would call Mrs. Rantwick. I'm stubborn like that.

    Now if you had called her, she might have driven to Texas to help you out. She's nice like that.

    Keep the faith, you wild man.