Friday, January 22, 2010

Perilous Journey

Wednesday January 13, 2010

I rolled out of my driveway at about 2:30 on a trip to Waxahachie. It was warmer than it had been in days, even though it was cloudy. The weatherman had predicted a high of 55 degrees, but it was already warmer than that. Rain was scheduled to start the next evening. I had some extra pieces of warm clothing in a small back-pack, just in case I was caught out after dark.

Raining buckets

Turning right onto West Ennis Avenue, I found that traffic was unusually light. Up ahead, on the right side of the road is a Jiffy-Lube station setback from the road about two hundred feet.
Their parking lot/driveway has long unobstructed sight lines for my travel lanes. As I approached that driveway, a delivery truck, the size of a rental truck, speeds down the driveway and onto the roadway in front of me. (Yes this scofflaw driver failed to stop before crossing the sidewalk, tisk tisk!) There was never a chance of our colliding, and there was no traffic behind me at all. At least, no chance of the truck colliding with me. His cargo, however, that is a different matter!

He had turned away from me enough so that when he crossed the sidewalk I was able to observe his roll-up back door slide open! And out slides a plastic five gallon pail of some unknown liquid, and it slides directly at me! Yikes! I prefer dogs over pails, all things considered…

I successfully dodged that pail, and I watch as two more crash to the pavement up ahead. Astonishingly, none of them broke their seals. The pail behind me had rolled around onto the shoulder, but the ones up ahead came to rest in the suicide left turn lane and the passing lane, respectively.

I quickly do a shoulder check, and see that there is only one automobile approaching, and it is being steered in my lane. The operator seems to be slowing to maneuver around me, and I fear they may not observe the gray colored pails in front of me in time to avoid them and me both. I raise and lower my left arm as though I am attempting to fly with one wing to alert them. (It can in no way be described as a Keri wave.)

The communication has it’s desired effect, the automobile driver slows to about fifteen miles and hour and carefully maneuvers around all the obstacles. I stop and carry the pail out of the travel lane and onto the shoulder of the road. Jiffy-Lube employees are collecting the others. Traffic was so light, no other vehicle came by until after I had continued on my way.
Crime wave reported on Hwy 287

Traveling west on Hwy 287 is uneventful outside of the usual geese. As I approach Ennis city limits, two Ennis police cruisers pull around me and stop in a cross-over ahead of me. Both officers get out and I recognize Sgt. Sifuentes.

The other officer (Perhaps Officer Hudson? I am not sure, but I think so.) shouts something to me, perhaps imploring me to drive on the shoulder, but a platoon of traffic makes it impossible to hear them. I proceed on my way.

Nothing else unusual happens while on Hwy 287. But while I am transitioning from Hwy 287 to Business Route 287, State Trooper Jackson pulls me over.

In response to my question as to why he pulled me over, he tells me they had been receiving a lot of calls about me.

I ask him if he had observed any illegal behavior on my part, and he claimed he hadn’t. I complain that he was out of line in pulling over a law abiding citizen on the flimsy evidence of Texas drivers who know little about traffic law.

He agrees with me, and asks that I be careful and releases me. I counter that he should advise his dispatchers to tell those complaining about me that we have the right to travel on the roadway. I ask him if I could take his picture, and he agrees, noting that he is taking mine with his dash camera.

My experience with state troopers has shown that they, as a group, they are far more familiar with the slow moving vehicle statutes than any other police force I have had contact with.
Outside of his poor decision (In my opinion.) to pull me over, Trooper Jackson was exemplary in his professional demeanor. Other than the circumstances, I am glad to have met him.

Funny comment in town

I was the first in line at the red light at Business 287 (Main St.) and Hwy 77 in downtown Waxahachie. Ahead of me, at the business on the right corner, they are doing some construction project inside, and one of their work trucks is parked on the sidewalk- in order to be close to the side door.

A fella is holding the door open for the passage of the workers trooping to and from the truck. As I proceed through the intersection on the green light, I overhear him say to someone inside the building; “Hey, look at this cyclist riding in the middle of the street like a car!”
I wish I had managed to say; “Yeah, and look at the guy who parks his truck on the sidewalk!” I had a good chuckle over it anyway.

The perilous trip home

While traveling homeward along Business 287, within a mile or so of Hwy 287, a state trooper pulls up beside me on the shoulder, and paces me. We have a conversation that way, traveling abreast.

He suggests a different route for me, and at first I misunderstand his meaning. After a bit, I see that he is suggesting that the next time I ride this way, I go north on Hwy 77, follow the service road to where it ends, and then enter Hwy 287 about three miles before I would on my present route! He thought it would be better for me because the road surface would be a lot smoother. Finally, advice I can use!

It would be out of my way some, but the upside would be I would get to annoy many more motorists! Hwy 77 is nice but busy four-lane, compared with the light traffic and bad surface on Business 287’s two-lane.

Needless advice, but with emphasis

As it is past five o’clock, traffic is considerably heavier now on Hwy 287. Typically, many geese sound their annoyance as they overtake me in the open lane to my left, and occasionally on the shoulder to my right.

In the distance ahead, I see a pick-up pull onto the shoulder and stop. I don’t think much about it at the time.
As I eventually approach, the driver hops o

ut of the cab and steps up to the edge line of the right lane. He is middle aged wearing a hard hat and heavy boots.

He gestures wildly pointing to the shoulder. He is very animated and has an angry countenance on his face. I edge over to the left a bit, and eye him warily.

He shouts; “Get on the shoulder! Quick! The police have been called and they will be here any minute!” He hops up and down. As I think back on it, I can easily imagine him saying “Goll durn it!” and “Tar nation!”. If you imagine him as Yosemite Sam, you will have a good image of who he reminded me of.

I belatedly think that I should’ve said; “I can’t! There is a truck parked on the shoulder!”
If I have any wit at all, it is a slow wit!

Civilization saved: The police arrive at last!

Yes, another traffic stop.

Officer Hudson of the Ennis PD approaches me, but I am distracted, leaning over my handlebars in pain.

As I set my left foot down, all of my left quadricept muscles cramp, and I am trying not to scream.

Officer Hudson speaks to me and I ask him to support me as I fear I will topple over, and I tell him about my distress. My right quads, feeling left out, join in the fun and I am not really aware of all of the things going on around me for the next two hours or so. (It was only a minute or two, but you get my drift.)

The usual questions are asked; “Why don’t you drive on the shoulder? How could it be safer on the road? You’ll get run over out there!”

Back-up arrives to make sure the crime wave on Hwy 287 is properly dealt with. From his Ennis police car steps Officer Watson. He comes up as I finally dismount from my bike. He and I exchange pleasantries and have a short conversation.

Officer Hudson writes me a ticket for the crime of: “Park bicycle on sidewalk/impede traffic”. Evidence of progress in their electronic ticket program. They didn’t have a bicycle specific impeding traffic entry back on October first. You can see the wireless device in his hand in his photograph.

I ask Officer Hudson if I can take a photograph of him, and he agrees. I warn Officer Watson that he may wish to step aside if he wishes to be out of the frame.

I am again pleased by the professionalism and demeanor of our Ennis police officers. Their conduct as a whole is commendable. I have no reason to think that there is any personal animosity towards me.

I remove my back-pack to stow away the ticket I have just received, and Officer Hudson and Officer Watson leave the scene in the direction of Ennis.

As I zip up the back-pack, I look up to see an Ellis County Sheriff’s police cruiser pull up to me.
With the opportunity to double-down on yesterdays teaser, I will make you wait yet another day to find out what happened!

(Yes, ChipSeal has descended into blatant cheap tricks to boost traffic to his blog! He really IS an annoying cyclist, isn’t he?)


  1. They will be very disappointed over in the Ellis County Observer bog comment area. I had to check after seeing your post - only three new comments today, including one "wear a helmet." Is the ECO paying you to boost their readership?

  2. I feel like a trout. Hooked and I can't do a thing about it.

  3. Do they really have nothing better to do with their time than continuously harass you? Or is your riding on the roadway really seen as that subversive down in Texas?