International Female Ride Day was on May 5th and I organized a ladies ride from Long Beach to Hollywood. We took about 50 ladies and gents up the coast and through LA. The ride was beautiful, but it got off to a rocky start. I felt the need to blog about it, because I wanted to document the event on my own page, and I also wanted to get feedback on whether or not I was too sensitive. I’ll lay out the details, you be the judge. There were about 50 riders in our group. We had 6 road captains (shout out to Assassin Riders MC) to make sure we stayed together and were safe on our ride.
After a moment of prayer, and a short briefing, we left Roscoes in Long Beach and headed north on Alamitos to a church to pay respects to a fallen rider (RIP Buttacup). We kept a slow pace to the 405 fwy because we didn’t want to leave anyone behind. As we were leaving the church, I saw one cop car. Then, another… and another. I felt a slight pang, but tried not to think anything of it. We were law abiding. They weren’t following us (or so it seemed), and I thought it was just coincidence. Then, just as we got to Spring and Alamitos, with the 405 on ramp just a 100 yards away, we stopped for a red light. I could see the cop car to my left, slow to a stop, coming eastbound on Spring. And, the familiar feeling of anxiety whenever police are near hit me. It’s that feeling I’ve had since I was a kid, a feeling of powerlessness against authority. My nephew (who just turned 3) also feels it. Just the other day, we were riding along and he said, “It’s the police! We’ve got to get away!” I told him that the police were nice guys, and we didn’t have to run from them. They were there to protect us. But, for some reason, with my hand on the throttle, I had the same thought he did. My eyes were focused on the 405. I felt like a runaway slave, running for the promised land. And, just as the light turned green, the cop hit his siren and stopped in front of us all. 3 more cars pulled up along side of us. We had been law abiding the whole way, maintaining the speed limit, so as not to lose anyone. So, why were we being stopped? The officers got out of their cars. One headed for the lead road captain and asked him for his license and registration. The other headed for me. A shot of fear gripped me… Not because I was afraid he would harm me, but I didn’t want him to ruin our ride before it could start.
Officer: “You know, you guys have got to obey the rules of the road, and we won’t have to harass you.”
Me: “What did we do?”
Officer: “One of you ran a red light back there.”
Me: “We’ve been riding within the law. We haven’t gone over 35, specifically because we don’t want to lose anyone.”
Officer: “Where are you guys headed?”
At this point, I could feel myself heat up… why was I being asked to account for my travels, especially since I hadn’t done anything wrong??!! But then, I turned around and looked at the 50 people behind me.
Focus. The goal is the 405. So, I softened.
Me: “It’s International Female Ride Day. All of us got together to go for a ride along the coast. We just came from a funeral, paying respects for a fellow rider who passed away.”
Officer: “See! That’s what I mean. You guys gotta stop being so reckless on those things…”
I could feel my blood begin to boil.
Me: “…That’s not what happened. She was killed by a drunk driver.” *Blank Stare*
Just then, we could hear engines. More riders were coming off the 405 freeway, and caught his attention.
Officer: “So, there’s a funeral huh?”
Me: “Yes, and there will be a lot of bikers in long beach today.”
Officer: “Well, we had to make sure you guys weren’t like those NY Riders. You know what happened out there don’t you? We don’t want that around here.” (Not this again. SMH)
Me: “No Sir, we’re leaving. We’re just trying to get to the fwy.” I hated myself for having to reassure him that we were “good boys and girls”. Just then, everything checked out with the Road Captain, and they let us through. But not before one last warning:
Officer: “Next time, give us a heads up and let us know you’re coming. Be safe.”
Yeah. OK. Because I need your permission. SMH. The officers eventually moved, and let us pass. I definitely felt some kinda way about the whole ordeal, but my goal was a successful ride. And, indeed, it ended well. Read more about it at blackgirlsride.com. What do you think? Was it all in my head?