Today was the day for the Ride For Kids. Adrian Wright, who was in the same Maryland Motorcycle Safety Instructor Preparation Class as me, last year, sent an e-mail that alerted me to the ability to set up a fund raising web site. Our boss, teaching Motorcycle Safety at Montgomery College had alerted us to the need for volunteers to help with parking at the event. Yesterday, Adrian and I attended the volunteers meeting. I was looking forward to being on time at Columbia Mall, as I told him I would be there right at 6:30 a.m. and I was on schedule. At least I was when I left home.
Leaveing home, it was still dark. The street was wet. Rain clouds had passed not long ago. I slowed for corners a bit more than usual. Because it was early and I knew traffic would be light, I planned to ride to the New Hampshire entrance to the Beltway take an uncharacteristic ride on the beltway and 95 North. I generally do not mind freeways, early in the morning, as I generally have them pretty much to myself.
The first clue that the morning was not going to be routine was a huge accident just ahead of the on ramp. Flares directed me to abort the entrance lane and make a 90-degree right hand turn into the second lane of the freeway. I was glad traffic was light. Just ahead, the exchange to 95 North bent right and then left. At the left curve, there were two more flares followed by an upside-down 4-wheel drive vehicle on the inside of the corner. Quite a mystery how one might have ended up where that vehicle was. Nobody was in sight. The police had other affairs to attend to.
Cruising up the freeway, I added ten mph to the speed limit bringing me to the normal flow of others, on that route. Then I added three more for my own safety and made sure I was in a gear that would let me maneuver. I had scarcely settled into cruise mode before I spotted headlights rapidly closing in my mirror. A Nissan with vanity plates rushed past me. Knowing that such a driver would take care of any speed traps, ahead, I started to follow, then thought again. He was driving well above 100 mph and the road was stile wet. What ever happened, I wanted to be coming upon it at manageable speeds. Sure enough, less than five miles later I saw flashing lights ahead in the left lane. The police had him.
I thought again about driving faster. I didn't want to be late. Then I thought about breakfast. There would be coffee and donuts at the ride, but at exit 35 I knew there was a MacDonald. MacGriddle breakfast sandwiches are one of my favorite quick breakfasts when I'm riding on a schedule and don't want to look for a restaurant with local character.
It was 6:15. I could probably get off the freeway, put a MacGriddle in my tank bag, and still only be a few minutes late. I knew that at such events, timeliness was not very crucial. Indeed, we had chatted for ten or fifteen minutes at the volunteers meeting before getting down to business, yesterday. Nobody would mind or notice my being five minutes late.
At times I attribute such thoughts to providence inspiring me from some supranormal knowledge of events beyond my temporal comprehension. With misgivings, I passed the exit. So, I was hardly surprised when, a few seconds later, I saw more emergency lights ahead, turning into the median highway-patrol turn-around lane, then pulling into the North-bound lanes ahead of me. Neither was I surprised when they did not all move to the right lane for me to pass, but spread out, slowed, and stopped.
I begged to be allowed to pass, and was told that a power line was down. I was the first vehicle that they stopped. The above picture is my bike parked in the left-most lane of I-95 North. Again, I thought about providence.
"Good thing you got me stopped before I got to the downed line," I said to the officer who was now putting out flares next to me.
He nodded his head, "Yes."
I was grateful for the timing, but I was chastising myself for not having listened to my inner thoughts, earlier, and being at McDonald's.
Cars were honking their horns, behind me. Ahead, past the blocking vehicles and beyond an under pass, I could see a rest stop. I could just imagine somebody needing to get to that rest stop, and counting on it, also being stuck.
Fortunately, we were moving again in less than 15 minutes.
Arriving so early, allowed for time to chat with other volunteers. I saw Bob Hennig of Bob's BMW. He admired the weather and pretty sunrise. The weather report had promised between 60% and 80% chances for rain. It looked like rain was going to hold off. More providence, and for a good cause.
Nancy of the BMWBMW club.
Adrian helping with parking.
Fox will have the story of the ride for a couple of weeks at: