Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cannonball Run Part II


The German police have decided to pull me over and I'm curious to find out why. At this point of the trip there's not much the police can do to me besides write fines and send me on my way. I'm pretty sure that when the police are through with me two things are going to happen. First, I'm going to have a good story to tell and second, the policemen are going to require psychological therapy to deal with the mayhem I am about to unleash on their very orderly world.

The lights of the police car light up the evening and announce my arrival to everybody at the rest stop as we pull in. They take a spot and I pull in front of them. I know I'm going to need the lights of their car to get my paperwork. A crowd starts to gather as I get off my bike and start taking my equipment off. If I'm being stopped i may as well make the most of it and shake off the aches my road weary body is feeling.

"Papers?" The voice was unexpectedly that of a woman's. After being in the east for so long I almost forgot that women were allowed to be policemen, errr police people... I mean cops.

I hand her my International Drivers license and my British Columbia registration papers. That should be enough to confuse them for now. She looks them over and then in perfect English she tells me that they received phone calls from many drivers that I was driving without a tail light. Bugger. No talking my way out of this one.

I turn my lights on and sure enough the tail light isn't working. This is a problem for more than one reason. The first reason is that the tools I need are packed away at the bottom of my duffel; the second reason is that the LED tail light I put in is pretty much useless and if they make me demonstrate it there is no way I'll be leaving the rest area with my bike. I'm just glad they haven't noticed my lack of turn signals.

I flip open my seat to get at the wiring. I see the look of bewilderment on their faces when they see the melted and charred mess of wires there. I don't even flinch as I start to unpack my duffel at the side of the road to get at my tools.

I just need to keep her busy so I hand her my flashlight and ask her to hold it for me. If I keep her busy enough she won't take a closer look at my bike. By the time I reach my tools it looks like a garage sale at the side of the road. I start scraping away the melted wires and playing with the leads coming out of the taillight. I run a couple of hot wires to the battery to test if it even works. The wire sparks in my hand and the light on the back lights up. Thank goodness! Another guy who was parked in front of me starts taking an interest in what I'm doing. He sees I'm having troubles wiring up my bike using a knife, lighter and electrical tape to connect everything up. He starts sticking his hands in and I let him. I would never say no to help and this guy actually seems to know what he's doing. He starts running wires through the frame of my bike and I can see the frustration in his eyes at which point he stopped and calmly walked over to his car and opened up the hatch. When he returned with the most amazing toolkit I've ever seen i knew i had struck gold. Unfortunately this freed up the policema... err cop to start looking closely at my motorcycle. I stood in front of the tire so she wouldn't notice the lack of rubber on it.

"Where are you coming from?", she asked.

I pull out my pre-marked map and show her the route. I point at Frankfurt then traced my way around. "Plzen, Praha, Wien, Bratislava, Budapest, Lake Balaton, Zagreb, Rjeka, Zadar, Sibenik, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Istanbul, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Odesa, Kiev, Poland, and now here!" I could see the disbelief in her eyes and then she started to laugh.

"On this motorcycle?", she pointed, "You're not smart!"

"I don't disagree." All my life I've tried to be a double negative and I like to think I haven't not succeeded.

Meanwhile, Herr Electrician stood up pleased with himself. He pulled the brake and the light turned on. That was enough for the police. She walked back to the car and got my "papers" from her partner and handed them to me. Before she could get back in her car I made her and her partner pose in front of the bike for me. A quick flash on my camera and they were back in their cruiser and gone. Yet another obstacle overcome. Now I was left to re pack my gear and continue on. That wasted so much time that my bike had cooled down and wouldn't start on its own. No big deal. The guy that helped me with my bike was more than happy to give me a push start and send me on my way.

Now it was darker and colder but I was still moving forward and that always helped. I could feel that this cold wasn't normal. It was an altitude induced cold. I had been ascending for about an hour before I was pulled over so I must have climbed pretty high. The air was freezing my one ungloved hand so bad that I couldn't hang on to my handlebar for very long. I would tuck into my crotch to warm it up and then pull it out to hold on as I passed or was being passed. It wasn't too long before I began a steep descent down and the air warmed up with every kilometer. I was on a roll, literally. I figured I would make Heidelberg in the wee hours of the morning but whatever. I had to get there.

What the $%^%#$ ???

I'm being pulled over again?


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