To Protect AND Serve

Let’s skip the preface about HOW I got in the following situation, and just accept it as is. Moreover, accept that the following is not illegal. I would have received a ticket for a traffic violation if what I did was against the law – especially as I’m basically a foreigner from waaay far away New Hampshaa’. Furthermore accept that what follows was not dangerous; racing a bike as much as I do is far more dangerous than this little escapade. These previous three sentences are my way of saying, don’t write a comment about how much of a bad decision this was. When you’re in a bind, you need to somehow figure your way out. Right? Right. Read on…

On a recent afternoon I found myself needing both a means of transportation and my bicycle in downtown Santa Barbara at the same time in order to visit the best bike shop in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately for me:

A) I’m living about 3 miles from downtown SB and
B) My “means of transportation” is a borrowed Vespa belonging to my good friends Aaron and Kim.

Which begs the question, how do you get a bicycle into downtown with just a Vespa? Answer: very carefully.

I therefore hoped on the hog, practiced manouvering these four wheels (bike + Vespa, if that math was too hard for you) between my garage and the end of the driveway, and from there it was out onto the open roads. Specifically, I was pulling the bike with my hand on the stem. This way I’m able to steer it dexterously down the road so as to keep myself and everyone else around me out of harms way. Safe? In the words of Sarah Palin, You betcha!

Next, I put a lot of thought into my route of choice and unfortunately, the shortest route is also the busiest. There are, however, very few traffic lights and stop signs on this main route, so I went for it. Additionally, there’s a generous and well distinguished bike lane so I figured that just by riding along at sub-20 mph, I’d be safe if I ran into the po-po.

And seriously, not even one minute into the ride, I was passed by a police car. Eye contact? Check. No lights, no siren? Phew, home clear!

About five minutes later, I’m now getting mildly close to the shop (which, if you run some mathematic differentials, you’ll realize that I was probably exceeding my aforementioned 20mph. You would be right, but only by a few mphs). Another cop. Lights? Yes. Siren? Thankfully that was unnecessary. So I immediately ditched my bike, gave the Vespa 90 degrees of wrist tilt for full-gas, and outran the cop by hiding a dark and deep alleyway! Muhahahaa.

Actually no, that last part is a lie. But I did in fact get pulled over, which was both hilarious and embarrassing. The policewoman kindly asked me what I was doing while obviously biting her tongue to not laugh at me. I explained my situation, how I don’t have any friends in town who have cars (at this instance at this very moment, this is both sad and true), how my bike is currently inoperable and therefore needs to go to the bike shop (I prefaced this blog by telling you to accept these details as fact – don’t bother asking why), and that my only vehicle happens to be a fantastic yellow Vespa (yes, fantastic).

As an added bonus, I explained to the woman that I had moments ago passed another police car and he seemed fine with me merely congesting the bike lane and not the roads. This excuse didn’t fly, however, since she quickly retorted that he was in fact the cop who called in my semi-illegal biking-while-err…-biking technique.

Isn't So Cal gorgeous?

Isn't So Cal gorgeous?

Meanwhile the second po-po rolled up as backup in case I was getting surly. When I saw the two police officers conversing – and laughing at me – I realized I was probably going to elude the long arm of the law.

Blah blah blah, I explained the same situation to the second cop, who also had to bite his tongue to not crack a smile, then we chucked the bike into the back of the cruiser, with wheels in the trunk, and I got a police escort to the bike shop.

Ticket? No. Warning to never ever ever do what I was doing, ever again? Yes. Lesson learned.


  1. Joel Demay


    Great story. I myself got a warning this summer for speeding (38 km/h in a 30 km/h zone) while riding my bike, I was going tru a quaint little village in Vallée de Chevreuse (50 km outside Paris).

  2. Don

    I was waiting for a “what’s your deal?” to pop up.
    Very funny story, just wish you had a picture of the “bike on bike” to share with us. 6’2″(?) on a little yellow Vespa carrying a 60cm bike…that has to be a KoS violation.

  3. Jacqui

    As a former cop, I was reading and waiting for a bad ending. I’m glad they helped you out, and now they’ll have a good story to tell at shift change.

  4. Dan

    You should watch this good advice for next time.

  5. Mags

    Chris? Nicole? Those two MUST have cars!

  6. superdex

    Were you carrying the bike, or ghost riding it?

  7. Brian

    That was WTF-Good! Nice four wheeler, are you heading to Aspen?

  8. Lucho

    As the King of Style, you should know that Vespas are…how do I say this…lame and very 1998. Unless a Vespa is being used for motor pacing, they are best left to d-bags who still like swing dancing, and listen to Stray Cats. Having said that, I fully understand that the Vespa was not yours, and you are thus officially off the hook. It’s like getting caught with someone else’s stash of drugs, and endlessly claiming that you were merely holding them for your friend. Look, you race for Cervelo, so we’ll pretty much forgive any such offense, even if it involves a Vespa. You are rad, we are not.

    ps1: English is my third language, so don’t mock my punctuation.
    ps2: how about an RSS feed? Please!

  9. Monica

    Next time you’re in town and need a lift for you or your bike, let me know. I’ll give you the lift. The police here aren’t always so understanding. Obviously the humor of the situation helped!

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