What should you do if your car is suddenly surrounded on the highway by a mob of roaring street bikes and crotch-rockets?
"Stay in your lane," urged Shane Harper, who will be attending his fifth Ride of the Century this weekend along with 3,000 riders from St. Louis and across the country. "Maintain your speed, and we will get around you." He and two other riders attended a police press conference yesterday to criticize and question the tactics that police say are designed only to target lawbreaking motorcyclists.
"They cannot stop the ride," Harper said. "We're still going to make this happen."
But Harper's confidence doesn't match the dismal outlook expressed by one of the cofounders of Streetfighterz, the five-member St. Louis-based motorcycle stunting group that founded Ride of the Century more than a decade ago. Adam (who asked his last name not be printed) told Daily RFT earlier this week that the current format of Ride of the Century "has seen its final days" because of police pressure on the riders.
Whether the event's riders are actually willing to change remains to be seen, but police demonstrated yesterday that they've been thinking seriously about how to make life difficult for those brave (or crazy) enough to pull off stunts like this. Or this. Definitely this.
"For those who are here for the Ride of the Century, I want you to have an enjoyable time as long as you obey the laws of Missouri," Captain Ronald Johnson, commanding officer of Troop C of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said in his opening remarks. "If you do not obey the laws of Missouri, I guarantee you will not have an enjoyable time."
And nothing makes time less enjoyable than involving your insurance company. For the second year, cited or ticketed motorcyclists can expect their insurance providers to receive a sheet of paper on police stationary informing them that their client is up to some highly risky behavior.
Holding up an example of one of these notices, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said many riders don't fear getting caught since a lawyer can usually reduce the traffic violation in court. Basically, sending insurance companies these notices tilts the balance back in law enforcement's favor, since getting caught pulling stunts during Ride of the Century now could pose additional -- and serious -- financial consequences for a rider's insurance.
"We're not saying they're guilty of a crime," Fitch said. "We're just bringing it to their [insurance company's] attention and telling them that we have issued this citation."
Fitch's distinction was lost on Jason Cadell, who will be attending his first Ride of the Century this weekend, who argued that "riders are going to be prosecuted through the insurance company. [The police] are circumventing due process."
Continue for more on this year's controversy and the official Ride of the Century statement.
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