Ghost Protocol: Running from the man
A couple weeks ago I had an unexpected run in with The Man as I was finishing up one of my late night rides. Without getting too specific I was riding an area where law enforcement has been almost nonexistent over the last 5 or so years.... to the point I should say that I had begun to feel very comfortable when riding the area even though I knew that this area probably had restrictions for riding at night even though there were no signs at any of the trail heads stating any such restrictions. Anyway, my stealth Spider sense had pretty much faded due to lack of enforcement. Just when you think you got it made in the shade, boom.
Where I live there is no legal night riding on trails. That is of course unless you get permission from the authorities and plan a club ride in which case club group rides are not my forte.
So anyway, I'm about to exit a trail head and onto a very secluded parking lot. This particular parking lot is known as a local hangout for the local youth. Generally I turn my lights down so as not to spook anyone ( if I can help it ). Right as I'm going around the gate a car turns it's headlights on a short distance from the parking area and bolts very quickly toward me. As I watch I immediately know whats going on. The car swings around and cuts me off. I pull along side and turn my helmet light off....The Man....here we go again.
The conversation was short, polite and to the point. I was riding in a restricted area...ie...no riding after sunset. ( *cough, cough* ) ...immediately I initiated "Man Protocol". In a nut shell, "Man protocol" is basically being friendly, polite, saying a lot of "yes sir" and saying nothing when you are told you are breaking the law. The first rule of "Man protocol" is, "Never argue with the Man". Believe me, this goes a long way in keeping you ticket free.
For the most part I think I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have a feeling the officer was sitting there ( in complete darkness ) waiting for the locals and not me. No doubt I surprised him. Thankfully he was a very nice gentleman and decided not to give me that $150 ticket.
Unfortunately this leaves me no choice but to initiate "GHOST PROTOCOL".
I will not be seen entering or exiting the trail head. I have already begun to scan various satellite images to plan various alternate exit points. Google is your friend. Too bad I can't hack into the NSA network. Having a real time infrared sat-image beamed to my smartphone would be the sweetest thing. Regardless, I will not give up. I will ride. I will not get caught. They'll have to pry the handlebars from my cold dead hands before I give up trail riding at night........ Ok so maybe I'm going a little too far.
, but it did sound good while I was typing it.
In the mean time as the Saga continues, if you have any good tips for my current mission from God ( code name: Black CAT ) your input would be much appreciated. The enemy must be neutralized. THE RIDE MUST GO ON! ( now where have I heard that before? )
My winter biking clothes have all sorts of reflective crap on them... I look like I'm in the movie Tron, but my warm weather stuff is great... Just black.
Night riding is allowed around me except in the state park. Even though I'm not doing anything wrong, I still keep a low profile entering and exiting the trails so not to get a bunch of me too people in there. Kinda why I go at night.
Sounds like you're being a docile sheep, just how they like it.
immediately I initiated "Man Protocol". In a nut shell, "Man protocol" is basically being friendly, polite, saying a lot of "yes sir" and saying nothing when you are told you are breaking the law. The first rule of "Man protocol" is, "Never argue with the Man". Believe me, this goes a long way in keeping you ticket free.
At any police encounter I turn on "talk to him like he's just another random guy" mode. I like to avoid feeding their already inflated egos and do what I can to avoid sending them on a power trip.
Nothing wrong with being stealthy to avoid contact, but in case you do make contact with "the man", try acting like a normal human being instead of acting like a frightened and submissive subject.
couple of thoughts from the Cod,...
- preferable ride in numbers , not alone, adds safety
- change the trails and time,
- change parking , and start / entry points
favorite , little change, is to ride to the trail-head,
don't particulary like riding on the street at night,
especially with off-road lights
little story :
one time summer night, and raining cats and dogs,
riding in a group of 7, we got stopped by a Ranger,
and got questioned, ID's , etc.
found out, they had to deal with a homicide .
I'am sure , it was not on their fun list to be out there.
Most of the bad stuff, is probably , teens, horsing around ,...
and at some point those teens, show up one way or another in a hospital,
what gets reported back to the local enforcement.
the other one, had to work in Colorado, brought my bike, and lights.
bringing my home-made lights and batteries thought the airport, was quiet interesting,...
well, got stopped by a friendly Ranger, explaining, simple, it's not allowed.
And I went on, that, I'am prepared , and have lights.
Well he went on to ask if I read the signs, and I replied , yeah, I know, not suppose to,...
then he made me take a close look....
well, looked like , no dogs allowed,... but then he pointed to another one,
bears, and cougars ... ok,... and explained , people, keep ignoring the signs ,
and letting their dogs, of the leash, to report them later missing.
Figure the mountain lions, are well fed there.
Darn, no riding their.
Wish they could post the fatalities per park.
My guess, most fatalities involve other ,... people, so called off-season, hunting accidence ,...
so , glowing, reflectors, are still good item in the woods.
one girl, has a cow-bell dangling of the seat,... not for bears, but hunters,...
for real stealth, gotta turn of, at least the cell-phone,
next GPS , and other radio devices ,...
and again, time and place, never the same,...and not alone is best.
hope I could contribute, not that my writing style is any good.
"Did you know its against the law to ride these trails at night?"
Originally Posted by DC2.2GSR
"That law is stupid! I hate you and I hate my parents!"
I don't think Cat was saying anything to portray himself as a "docile sheep". Not being lured into an argument (that you'll never win BTW) is the best move IMO.
Originally Posted by DC2.2GSR
"The Man" can write you a citation that sets in motion a chain of events that forces you to roll over and pay a fine or go to court and defend yourself. If all I have to do to avoid the time, hassle, and cost of that is to toss some "yessirs", "nosirs", and know when to keep the mouth shut, that's my play.
...Exactly...thanks Van for taking up for me. Believe me DC2, I am anything but docile. I do mostly like what you said, I act normal and make conversation. I add the "sirs" when necessary. When told I'm breaking the law as Van said, no sense trying to talk your way out of it. That shows disrespect. Never show the Man you disrespect him or what he is doing to make a living. By all means "act normal". Don't be scared or look guilty. You're out riding a bike at night getting exercise. Night bike riding is a sport. The man might not know that but you do. That's why I said to be friendly but not overly friendly. In my case I just act like I normally do. For me this works.
Originally Posted by Vancbiker
During my conversation with the Man I related to him how I've seen many people out on the trails at night at different times doing things that are more problematic from a law enforcement perspective. I mentioned to him that when these people see me they usually are so shocked that anyone else is out at night that when I return they are long gone. This includes the ATV'ers, the poachers and the partiers. Basically I try to indicate that I'm doing them a service by scaring these people away although in the mean time he still has to do his job. Fortunately most of my conversations with law enforcement people have been very positive. I guess I must rub them the right way.
Actually, an officer that wrote you a ticket for riding at night is not likely to appear in court to defend that ticket... He's banking on you just paying it. If you appear and he doesn't, you win. I've beaten a few bike path speeding tickets exactly that way.
Originally Posted by Vancbiker
Of course! If one is unfortunate and receives a citation, I feel it is worth trying the hope the officer doesn't show approach (depending on the amount of the fine).
Originally Posted by NYrr496
My preference would be to avoid being cited in the first place.
Believe me I've checked into it. The problem with infrared glasses is that you need an infrared projector in order to see anything at a distance. When the projector is used it appears to others as a red light and is very visible. Ideally true low-light night vision glasses would be better but those things cost major bucks and are heavy/bulky as well.
Originally Posted by d365
In the mean time I am revisiting the idea of a home-made "stealth light". I had a thread on it a while back. Basically I just took a low-power led torch, added some dark green translucent material to cover the lens with and then concocted a cardboard shroud to block off excessive spill. Pretty simple set-up but for the most part I felt I had no real need at the time to use it. Need I say, the situation has now changed. With the stealth light I can approach the trail head without announcing myself with my normal bright set-up. Properly aimed, the stealth light cuts off almost all spill and just gives you enough light to see about ten feet in front of you.
The scary part is that "the man" mentioned that he had taken his truck onto the trails before. I only know that because I mentioned to him that I saw car tracks on the trail. Thats when he said they were probably his tracks. Yeah, I should have figured that since the trails are gated and locked. If the man does that I'm pretty much screwed. If I ever do start to see car/truck tire tracks again I'll likely have to find a new regular place to ride.
On the plus side, the night I got caught it was a Friday ( a normal work day for most people ). Not to mention it was only about 10:30-11:00pm when I came popping out.
Yep, time to get working on the stealth light again.
( *edit, ...Now if the man has night vision glasses I'm truly screwed. )
I love it. Sucks you got busted at your local riding spot, but a tip of the hat...or...bike helmet for sticking with it. Hopefully you can find a way to get your night riding in without getting slammed with tickets. We have a similar issue here. Some trails are open after dark, but they're not the ones we want to ride. Such is life, I suppose.
Become involved and get the rules changed. Is it city property? Contact your local leaders.
Your story sounds like what we deal with. It really does such when you have a family and that is the time you have to ride, the winter/early sundown adds to the pain. The first time I rode with a buddy who was worried that the trail was closed after sunset I informed him of my story, act ignorant of the rule, smile and be polite. He thought I was nuts until he saw the beauty in it (and how GD fun it was at night). Fortunately, we've ridden this trail system dozens of times without issue. One thing I like to do is ride in before dark, sit and have a beer until night falls then do my riding and get out. We've also been lulled into being a bit too comfortable as well. I wear all black also, stop and check the trail head from a distance if possible and ride in small numbers. Good luck.
I've also thought of telling them I had a flat, broken chain or something but that wouldn't explain why you've got $300+ worth of lights blinding them...
To the guy worried about animals. I've seen bear, moose and a mtn. lion while night riding. I wouldn't dream of letting that stop me. Life's too short to worry about that and chances are slim that they want anything from you other than the quickest exit.
Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
Where we should go,
We just ride...
Originally Posted by Cat-man-do
You need a blog.
Yeah, I suppose you're right. Like most people I started a blog years ago and afterwards forgot about the whole thing.
Originally Posted by aBicycle
I started the thread because I felt people who are considering night riding might want to hear about others "actual experiences" while riding at night. Besides this is the "Lights and Night riding" forum. It gets boring talking about lights all the time. I figured it would be nice to talk about actual night riding and hear the experiences that others might come up with. My intent is to create dialog. The board has been quiet lately.
I rarely have read what other people write in their blogs. The few that I have read get boring very quickly. That's probably because people talk about all kinds of different things on their blogs which for the most part doesn't interest me.
Anyway, sorry if I imposed a couple stories of my personal night ride experiences. Don't worry, if I don't get positive reinforcement I'll stop.
Last edited by Cat-man-do; 07-02-2012 at 05:51 PM.
I had a similar experience a couple of months ago on a night ride. As we reached the trail head and were loading the bikes up a car pulled into the parking lot. I joked with my buddies that it was the police and we were busted. Sure enough it was a sheriff car and he pulled up and rolled down his window. Fortunately for us, in Montana it is not against the law to ride at night on most trails. He was bored and pulled over to watch our descent from the side of the road. He told us that he was hoping that one of us would fall down but when we did not, he drove over to make sure that we were not motorcycles on the trail (which would have been against the law).
I do try to invite one of my buddies who is on the local police force to ride with us a couple of times a year so that I have the option of throwing his name out if we were to get into trouble but for the most part I ride at night to not see anyone else and I like it best when that is how it works out.
Sorry Cat, not as cool as your story, but that is the best I have so far.
If I were riding after dark and the park rangers called me out on it, I'd put it this way:
ok you're right, but listen. This is the time I have in my day to ride here, and I'm just riding familiar trails for 1-2 hours to get some exercise, and then I'm out of here. I'm not partying, starting fires, shooting guns or anything. And I support the park, I've got my Washington Discover Pass to prove it *pulls it out of Camelbak*. Can you cut me some slack on this one.
Why don't you just get permission to ride at night?
I have no encounters to report myself, but I run ghost or low light all the time when entering/exiting or running near a perimeter that borders on a road or housing to reduce attention attraction. I'm not into advertising/encouraging what I'm doing. The less attention night riding draws, the less it gets enforced by the man should the location be illegal at night.
....because basically the system doesn't work that way. Once a law or statute is on the books it takes the voices of thousands to get it overturned. I have nether the time, money or patience to deal with such things.
Originally Posted by aBicycle
Next time you go to court, try to remember how many people are there to ask permission from the judge if they can drive as fast as they want. Then when you're finished doing that try to recount the number of people you see driving a vehicle over the posted speed limit.
Now if the Governor of your state is your brother-in-law or cousin you might stand a better chance of getting permission. If not than both you and a snowball have about the same chance to either get permission or to overturn those hell-bent regulations.
Stealth riding 101
Something I just want to note from the ride I took last night: Last night I rode another park. The rangers at this park are more tolerant because it also has a camp ground. Still I ride in from off site and try to stay out of their radar so to speak.
The trails interlace with the park forest roads so you have to come out in the open every once in a while. That's when I try to initiate "Ghost protocol". Ride and not be seen.
One of the things you really have to hate about almost all bike lights is that there is no "instant off " feature. Almost all are "press and hold" to turn off. Sometimes that can take several seconds. For stealth purposes they are useless. That's why I always ride with a back up torch.
A torch on the bars can be very useful for stealth. All the ones I own have a rear clicky. Press click on, press click off...stupid simple. Momentary press for mode changes. There are times when you really do want to turn the light off FAST!.
Last night after crossing over a park road I was following a trail that closely paralleled the road. With lights on I would of been visible from the road. Suddenly I heard the sound of a truck coming up the park road. Quickly I went "Lights out " and then turned around so my pack reflectors wouldn't give me away. Luckily I was not seen and the truck sped off down another road. At that time of night it had to be one of the rangers, no doubt in my mind. After that I was careful at all the road intersections the rest of the night.
I can't remember the first time I played "hide and seek" as a kid. I guess some things you never out-grow.