This blog began with an earnest attempt to catalog some of the things I think about while I ride. I’ve focused on taking random thoughts from the ol’ noodle and firming them up a bit. But, I’d also like to dive into the pandemonium. I’m hoping to give a more accurate of some of the odd thoughts and stories that bubble up, from the abyss of my mind while spinning it out. The following is one such story.
It’s not against the law. Albuquerque, 2009.
At this time, if I wasn’t hosting the alleycat, it was Polka. On a cold, windy day we met at the usual spot, the duck pond, as people danced around with the pre-race jitters, chatting. I was on a bike lovingly dubbed the Gentleman Cruiser. No serious intent today. The bike was built for a comfortable upright posture and an easy fixed gearing to handle bearing friends atop my wide scooped handlebars, uphill to the next party.
I couldn’t help myself and hammered the next thirty odd miles out, barreling into stiff winds. The gearing being my saving grace against the sandblasting gale. I wrapped up the race at top, and stoked, decided it best to boogie down to the nearby gas station and pick up a 24-pack of Bud. Back at the finish, I handed out beer, drank and danced off the cold before collecting my loot. With the sun low, my roommates and I set off for home.
Home was a slight climb east. First, heading up Coal we needed to take the bridge over the rail yard. We bombed down to Broadway, and glancing to make sure there was no oncoming traffic, ran the light full blast with the half-drank case of Bud balanced precariously on my shoulder. No need to have a finger on the brakes when you’re riding fixed, bro.
A few seconds later I heard the bwoop bwoop of a police siren. Nooooo, can’t be. I spun onward, preserving my momentum as I climbed. Then I heard it again. Bwoop bwoop! Accompanied by the commanding megaphone of the officer. “You three on the bicycles. Pull over.” Busted.
The officer, a stern looking woman, came coolly walking up. It was the typical traffic stop routine minus the opaqueness of being concealed by the closed cabin of a car. “Do you guys know what you did back there?” I’d had the most beers. My mouth fired off first:
No, officer. We’re just heading home.
You ran a red light.
Oh, that? It’s not against the law.
According to state law, in order for a cyclist to preserve momentum they can run a red, so long as they yield to the appropriate traffic. It’s called the Idaho law.
I know the law. In Albuquerque, metropolitan law trumps state, and it requires you to stop at lights and signs. Gimme your IDs.
My friends were pissed. Why would I run my mouth? The Idaho Law is a thing, just as I’d stated. But, it only applies in Idaho. It was obvious I’d been drinking and my little objection was looking like I’d nabbed us a ticket. The officer came strutting back up to us. She handed over our IDs one-by-one. She gave a long look up and down each of us as she did so.
I’m going to let you off with a verbal warning. It may be that state law says you can roll a stop light, but in the city it says otherwise. You boys be safe.
The officer pulled away. My friends continued to harangue me for spouting off. Everyone was a little surprised at the outcome. Really, the “Idaho Law”? I shouldered my Bud, and homeward we rolled.