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June 10, 2015

Any Speed Is Fine

Any Speed Is Fine: The Gilpin County Justice Center

So, a few weeks ago, I'm driving around the backroads north of Central City, and I come this guy on a Ducati street bike. Now, we're on dirt roads, and I'm just sort of rediscovering a bunch of back roads I used to know like the back of my hand. And this guy on a street bike looks out of place. Like, he's doing fine, but he's riding alone, and his bike clearly wasn't designed for this type of riding.

But right away, I like the guy. He's riding alone, and he's way out of his comfort zone, but he's making it. And when he comes to a stop sign, I roll up beside him and say, "Hey....you're doing a fine job considering that you're on a street bike!"

Like, we both know the bike he's on wasn't made for this. And he and I are laughing.

"Which way is 'Oh My God Road'?" he asks.

"Oh, it's back there. It comes out in Black Hawk. The signs say Virginia Canyon Road, but the locals all know it as 'Oh My God Road'.

"Where are you heading?" He asks.

"Well, I'm going to go up 119, the Peak-to-Peak Highway, up to Rollinsville, and then up to the Moffatt Tunnel," I offer.

"OK. Is it alright if I ride with you?" he asks.

"Sure, man. How long have you had that bike?" I ask. Like, I don't really know how much experience he has on a motorcycle. I've been riding for 30 years, but you need to know how much experience the other people you're riding with have when you're planning your ride.

"I just got this bike," he offers. "I haven't ridden it much."

"OK. Fair enough. Follow me."

And we're off.

It's all dirt roads until we get to Highway 119, and then I stop and wait for him to catch up.

"How fast do you want to go now?" I ask him. He seemed to be having trouble on the dirt roads, but it is clearly a street bike, to be fair.

Like, we've been sort of holding back, being very careful on this dirt road, but now that we're on hard-top, I thinking that we might could drive a little faster. Maybe faster than the speed limit even, if need be.

"Oh...any speed is fine," he replies.

This is sort of unexpected. I think about that. What it means. I'm not really sure how long he's been riding. Only that the bike is new. But I don't know if this is his first motorcycle, or his 10th bike.

So we take off, heading north on 119.

Any time we come up behind someone, I just pass them. I don't really pay any attention to the paint on the road. Sometimes it's marked for passing. Sometimes it's a double-yellow. But I just blow by them and the Ducati stays right with me.

Eventually, I realize, that he's at least as stupid as I am, and we roll north along the Peak-to-Peak highway, pretty much terrorizing the mountains, passing at every opportunity, and basically ignoring the speed-limit in a Mad Max type of scenario.

At Rollinsville, I pull over and we go into a store to get a drink. I'm dying of thirst, and it gives us a chance to sit down and talk.

"Where you're from, Sean?" I ask.

"Wisconsin," he replies.

"I'm guessing this isn't your first bike?"

"Nah. I've had lot's of motorcycles..."

"Where is that from....Ducati? Is that from Italy?"

"Yeah. That's where they're made...."

So, we sit at the bar and I drink a Diet Coke to rehydrate. I've been trying to drive up to the Moffatt Tunnel for as long as I can remember, but I never make it due to rain, snow, etc.

Today, it looks like there's a chance we could actually make it.

I pay for our drinks and we clear out, heading up towards the Moffatt Tunnel. As soon as we hit the road, I realize it's a dirt road. Somehow, I'd forgotten that aspect of it. It's been so long since I've been up here, I totally spaced that it was a dirt road. I feel bad for making him drive the Ducati down yet another unpaved surface.

But now, we're winding up this dirt road, through a beautiful valley, with a turn-of-the-century school house. I look at it closely. Convince myself that it's been repainted. But we keep rolling up towards the continental divide.

At the tunnel, we stop briefly and talk for a bit.

"Pretty nice ride up here, huh?" I ask. Like...we're at the continental divde, basically. I've been trying to drive up here all year. The scenery is stunning. And now, we're at the Moffatt Tunnel.

"Winter Park is just on the other side of that tunnel," I explain. "But we can't get there from here...."

So, we're left, at sort of a dead-end, not sure where to go next. There's nothing to do but turn back, really, but instead, I drive my bike between two boulders, through a path we're clearly not supposed to take, and roll right up to the very mouth of the Moffatt Tunnel.

There's a couple of signs there, saying when it was built and everything. We take a few shots, climb on our bikes, and start rolling back down towards Rollinsville.

On the way back, I point out the dirt road that connects up to the trail network above St Mary's Glacier.

I'm so glad to have a new friend to ride with. So nice to be out riding when, for once, it's not raining or snowing or hailing.

And now, we come around a curve on this dirt road and here comes the Sheriff of Gilpin County. He sees us and immediately stops and turns around.

We could easily have outrun him, but I don't run from the police any more, so we both stop and presently the Sheriff's deputy comes back with this lights rolling and stops me. Sean turns around and comes back to join the party.

"Were you just up there at the tunnel," he wants to know.

Sean looks at me and I look at him and I feel bad. Like, I want to say, "Dude...I should have warned you. I'm like a police-magnate. You really shouldn't hang out with me. I'm an albatross."

It was my idea to go up to the Moffatt Tunnel. My idea to drive right up to the very edge of the tunnel. And now, I've got Officer Dickhead royally pissed off at us. I feel like I'm 16 again.

"My lawyer told me not to talk to police," I offer.

"Were you taking any pictures up there with your cell phones?" He asks.

I'm in a wide-spread panic-mode now, because Sean and I were both snapping photos like crazy with our phones.

But Sean is trying to be honest. To do the right thing.

"I was up there," he offers. "I walked up to the tunnel," he continues.

The pig is fit to be tied, though.

He asks for our drivers' licenses. I'm surprised he doesn't ask for insurance and registration, because I'm reasonably sure that's all expired.

He takes our licenses and goes back to his truck.

"Dude....delete all of your pics on your phone..." I whisper. I delete all of the photos of our bikes at the Moffatt Tunnel. He does the same.

After a while, he returns.

"They have pictures of you. When we get the pictures, we're going to charge you with Criminal Trespass, and then, we'll issue you a summons. And if you don't show up for the summons, I'll issue a warrant for your arrest."

I leave first, then wait for Sean in Coal Creek Canyon. When he comes by, we catch up on what happened.

I feel bad for not telling him that I'm a police magnate. For not explaining that no one with any sense would ever ride with me. That I have poor impulse control and a criminal record that would make Charles Manson blush.

We ride together through Coal Creek Canyon, and split up at Highway 93.

For the next two weeks, Sean and I stay in touch via text messages. This Deputy Sheriff of Gilpin County keeps calling us and threating that we need to come meet with him so that he can issue us with a summons, or he's going to issue a bench-warrant for our arrest.

I put it off as long as possible, but I stay in touch with Sean, and then today, he tells me he's going up there to Gilpin County to meet with someone who's supposed to issue him a summons.

Like...I've been avoiding this for the last 2 weeks or so....dreading dealing with this issue. I'm a horrible procrastinator, but I know that, if I don't deal with this issue, they'll issue a warrant for my arrest, and I hate going to jail. It's not fun.

Today, I drive into work on my KTM, and every cop I pass, I'm looking over my shoulder, sure that there's a warrant for my arrest. Praying I don't get stopped.

At work, I text Sean. He's going to meet with them today.

This is tough for me. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to meet with. Or where. It seems to make sense to sort of follow Sean up there. Even though I'm reasonably sure that they'll toss us in jail once we get there.

Sean and I meet up in Golden.

"How do you want to go?" I ask. Like, I'd much rather go up Clear Creek Canyon or Golden Gate Canyon than go up I-70. I'm convinced that we're both about to be incarcerated in the gulag of Gilpin County, so a slow scenic drive through the mountains seems like the best way to go.

So pretty soon, we're winding slowly up Clear Creek Canyon, a stunning ride with cliffs and sheer mountains dropping down into Clear Creek. At the Peak-to-Peak Highway, we turn right, and enter into Gilpin County, the 2nd smallest county in Colorado.

Now, we're rolling slowly north on Highway 119. At this point, I drop back and follow Sean because I have no clue where we're going. "5 miles north of Black Hawk" is all I know, really.

So we roll north through Black Hawk.

I hate the police. I hate jail. I hate authority. I hate everything about this trip, but I don't really see any way out. I have to deal with this situation. I have to walk in there, and deal with whatever happens.

Like, I spend all of this time trying to blame the police, and rationalize how they're wrong, and everything. But the truth is that I knew what I was doing was wrong. Why can't I just obey the law? Why do I have to continually thumb my nose at the authorities? Why can't I just obey the law like a normal person? Why not just admit what I did was wrong and accept my punishment?

All of this goes through my head, and now we're turning right at a sign that says "Gilpin County Justice Center."

"Justice Center. What a racket," I think.

Like, if there was any justice in this world, we wouldn't be here. But we are here. My new buddy Sean and I.

I'm wondering what the "Justice Center" will look like. Ahead, I see a small abandoned farm house. "Could that be it?" I wonder.

But no. We turn right, and now we see the "Justice Center". Some huge sprawling multi-million dollar complex. That's why they summoned us here. To pay for this fucking building.

We park our bikes, and start to walk into the Justice Center. But there's a metal detector, and for some reason, Sean has a knife on him. Like, his judgement is even worse than mine, if that's possible.

So we go back out to our bikes and off-load everything. Jacket, gloves, helmet....I empty my pockets. So that the only thing I have on my is my wallet, and then we try to enter the building again.

"You know they're going to throw us in jail, right?" I ask Sean. "There's no way we're getting out of here. You know that, right?"

"Nah. I think that they're just going to have us sign the summons. I think we're OK." He replies.

Like, I hate the police. I don't trust them at all. I have no delusions that they'll let us out. But, I also feel like I have to get this behind me, come hell or high water.

Now, they turn us around and make us walk around to the back of the building. So now, we're at the back entrance. We walk in and explain to a woman encases in bomb-proof plexi-glass that we're here to meet with officer Douchebag to get our summons.

Only now, something is not quite right. Officer Douchebag can't talk to us for some reason. The whole place is on lockdown.

Now, a one-legged meth-addict comes and sits with us at the table.

"Do you know what's going on?" she asks me.

"No....what happened?"

"Some guy was killed here in the jail this morning. The crime scene van just left," she offers.

Why does this happen to me? Last time I was up here, they found a woman with no head and no hands. Now, there's been a murder and officer Douchebag can't meet with us. Great.

She's hitting on me, this one-legged meth-addict, but I can't help her. She introduces hereself.

"I just got out this morning. They arrested me at my house. Just a bunch of bull-shit..." she's blabbering. I look at her. The poster-child for Faces of Meth. One good leg. One fake leg. Short pants.

"I'm trying to get my old man out now. I paid online, but they won't release him for some reason. My name's Cindy..." she offers.

I look at Sean. After we've waited for about an hour, we get up to leave. Like, there's no point in waiting any longer. It's not going to happen. We've talked to the lady behind the plexi-glass several times. No one has ever come out to help us. So we walk out into the rain and start walking around the building.

Just then, a young officer comes out and meets us.

"Do you just need a summons issued? I can do that..." he offers.

I'm ecstatic. Like...dude....Please....just let us sign the papers and get on with our lives.

Now, we're seated back inside the Justice Center, and he's asking for our Driver's Licenses, Insurance, and Registration.

This is tough because, I don't really keep up with that, or anything else, very well.

Sean hands his over promptly. I sort of feverishly root through my wallet, unsure what I'll find. I own more vehicles than anyone you've ever met, so there's lots of paper in the wallet. DUKW. M37. Honda. KTM. XR. XL.

I find some paperwork that appears to be for the current year, and just hand it to him.

I don't know what the penalty is for the crime. 10 years in the gulag? A $10,000.00 fine? I just have no clue.

"Omaha saw everything. They have pictures of you up there," he offers.

"Omaha? What's Omaha?" I ask, thinking it's some super-secret spy operation.

"They watch that tunnel remotely on CCTV from Omaha," he continues. "They have color photos of you two up there. It looks exactly like the bikes you rode today in the parking lot," he offers.

But eventually, he lets us sign a piece of paper and allows us to leave. So, they didn't throw us in jail.

We ride home in a driving rain, dodging deer and elk. At every tunnel we pass through, we give a thumbs up because it's so nice to be out of the rain, even for 100 yards or so. When we part ways, Sean fist-bumps me and I wonder what will happen we make it to court in August.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 10, 2015 at 11:09 PM


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