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DA Parker's Motorcycle

DA Announces Fall Motorcycle Ride

            Last Spring, District Attorney Michael Parker hosted his biggest motorcycle ride to date: “Ride the Rock.”  Seventy riders from 2 states and 9 NC counties enjoyed the ride from Albemarle to Rockingham, riding the two race tracks of Rockingham Speedway and lunch at the Ellerbe Springs Inn. 

 

            This year’s fall foliage tour, “The Uwharrie Bridges Tour” will feature wide vistas, towering trees, curvy roads and crisp fall air.  This 150 mile ride through the rural back roads of North Carolina will pass through only three towns and will be filled with the vivid colors of fall in the Uwharries. Riders will leave from RPM Cycles in Albemarle at 10 am on Saturday October 24, and will travel through 5 counties while circling around, and over, Tuckertown Lake, Badin Lake, Lake Tillery, and Blewett Falls Lake.   

 

Riders will enjoy lunch at the beautiful Fork Farm and Stables in Norwood, a hidden gem of the Uwharries.  The Fork is a large rolling farm dating back to 1748 at the confluence of the Pee Dee and Rocky Rivers.  The Fork has world class equestrian and shooting sports facilities and is home to its own Bed and Breakfast.  Additionally, the Fork has a campground with more than 30 miles of horse trails.  The Fork’s current farming and conservation practices make the whole facility simply breathtaking.  For more information on the Fork, visit www.forkstables.com.

 

In the afternoon, riders will break at Pee Dee Orchards, a family owned produce stand located on US 74 in Anson County just west of the Pee Dee River.  Pee Dee Orchards is open seasonally between May and October and features some the best local peaches, peach products and homemade peach ice cream in the area.  For a taste of what is in store for the riders, visit http://www.ncagr.gov/ncproducts/ShowSite.asp?ID=2975.

 

After touring on four scenic byways, traveling over three rivers and crossing nearly every bridge over the Pee Dee River Basin in Richmond, Anson and Stanly counties, riders will be treated to a panoramic view of the Uwharries and the Pee Dee River from the top of Morrow Mountain. 

 

Isn’t it time you discovered the beauty of fall in the Uwharries?  Find it while riding with the DA!

 

            Registration for The Uwharrie Bridges Tour will begin at 9:00 am at RPM Cycles, 200 Hwy 740, Albemarle, NC (Visit RPM at www.RPMcyclesnc.com). Kickstands will go up at 10 am.  For more information, call RPM Cycles at 704-983-1125 or visit our website, www.michaelparkerda.com.   Cost is $25 per rider and $8.00 for a passenger, lunch is included.  Sponsorship packages are available; all proceeds go to the Committee to Keep Michael Parker District Attorney. 

 

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Tampa by Bike

By District Attorney Michael Parker

 

 

            As District Attorney for Richmond, Anson and Stanly counties, it is important to keep up with training.  In addition to the teaching I do, I also have to attend training courses that keep me up to date on the latest law, trial advocacy tips and latest technology.  In fact, a lot of the long distance motorcycle riding I do is to attend these courses.  As you may have read in my last story, the State is broke, and they have curtailed nearly all of our training opportunities.  So, when a chance to get free training comes along, you best take it.  Such an opportunity found me about 3 months ago, when I received an invitation to attend a course entitled “Forensic Training for Capital Litigators” in Tampa, Florida sponsored by the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University School of Law and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  Because, they promised information on crime scene reconstruction, which just happens to be a program we have been developing in our office for the last 2 years, I jumped at the chance to go.  I was accepted and they quickly sent me a request for travel preferences.  Can you guess what I chose?  That’s right, “I’ll ride if that is OK with you.”  It was, so I began planning the trip for May 20-23, 2009.

 

Now, I am fortunate enough to have Rev. John McCullers, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Dobbins Heights, working for me.  When I bought my first bike nearly two years ago, John gave me a great deal of grief, i.e. “Are you crazy, you are going to die on that thing.”  As I took each new trip, I kept telling him how great it was and encouraging him not to knock until he tried it.  Well, unbeknownst to me, John did.  He got his learner’s permit and borrowed a bike and began riding.  One day, he comes into my office and says, “Guess what?”  “What?” I asked.  “I got a motorcycle?” he says.  “Uh-Uh,” I say.  “Yes, I did,” and so it went until he convinced me he had.  “What do you think?” I asked.  “I love it,” he said.  Now, he has been through three bikes, buying up each time until he bought a Nomad like mine.  But it is like mine in name only, because his is much nicer.  He has a 1600, with satellite radio, amplifier and four loud water proof speakers.  “I ride everyday,” he says to me, “even to church on Wednesdays.”  “Uh-Uh,” I say.  But he does.  So, I said, “Well, I am taking mine to Tampa, Florida, want to go?”  “No, I couldn’t do that,” he says.  “Sure you could,” I said.  Well, the next day, he calls me and says, “Guess what, if you were serious, I want to go!”  So the planning began. 

 

We planned to meet at my house at 8:00 am on May 20 to leave.  Now, I don’t know if you remember what happened in Florida during the week of May 18-23, but they had the biggest rain storm they had ever had, short of a hurricane, that lasted two weeks.  On Tuesday, it wasn’t looking too good for travel to the “Sunshine State,” so I went to John.  “Have you seen the weather reports?” I asked.  “Yes,” he said.  “What do you want to do?” I asked.  “I plan to be at your house tomorrow at 8:00 am to go,” he said.  And that settled it, now that is my kind of rider. 

 

On Wednesday morning, John met me on time and had his bike all packed, but it was clear that he had not planned for the rain.  After a little work, we got his luggage waterproofed, John said a beautiful prayer, asking the Lord to keep the danger ahead of us and protect us on our travels.  I gave John some last minute advice:  in the rain, stay off the paint, it is slick as glass, on the interstate, you ride like you are invisible, i.e. assume the other drivers cannot see you, and, finally, remember that the other drivers all want to kill you.  With these “pearls of wisdom” still hanging in the air, we headed out. 

 

Coming out of the Carolinas the sky was bright blue, with a light breeze and wonderful spring air.  For 225 miles, we had gorgeous riding.  Stopping every 140 miles for fuel the miles flew by.  Then, we hit a light sprinkle and we pulled off to put on our rain gear.  Now, I had my normal riding gear, an Olympia Jacket with waterproof liner and First Gear pants with a waterproof liner.  John, had splurged on a one piece rain jumpsuit.  I had put an anti-fog liner on my helmet visor during the winter, and I had a visor wiper on my thumb.  Once outfitted, we set off.  For 110 miles we had NOTHING.  No rain, no wind, just clouds.  “This isn’t going to be so bad afterall,” I thought.  Stopping for gas in Georgia, I asked John, “How are you doing?”  “Great,” he said.  I then said, “Man, that was a great prayer you said, you must have some pull with “the Man Upstairs.”  No, said John, “I think the rain is afraid of us, it just keeps fleeing ahead of us.” 

 

Now, I ain’t no Baptist, I am a Presbyterian, but I thought to myself, I don’t think I would say that, but I didn’t say anything, afterall, John is the Preacher.  When we were fueled up, I said, “Are you ready?”  “Yeah, let’s go eat some rain.”  Famous last words.  I had forgotten to put my visor wiper back on my glove at the station and so I slowed down to about 45 mph trying to put it on, but I couldn’t ride without at least one hand on the bars, so I stuck it back into my pocket.  That’s when it happened.  Not five miles from that station, the bottom feel out.  I mean totally out.  I am talking about Noah here.  One minute we were buzzing along, the next it was like someone threw a sheet over my helmet.  I could have been the only one on the interstate, or one of a 1000, and I wouldn’t have known the difference.  We couldn’t pull off, we couldn’t see the car ahead, only the taillights, and EVERYONE slowed down to 35 mph for about five miles, and then it rained off and on for 250 miles. 

 

At the next stop, John pulled up with his visor up, which is a strange thing to do in the rain.  “How are you doing?”  I said.  “I don’t like water,” he said, “and if there was ever a doubt, I have now been baptized,” said John.  I said, “Ahh, John, you are a BAPTIST Preacher.”  “Yeah, said John, “but I sprinkle, I don’t dunk, and at one, point,” he said, “I literally thought I was drowning!”  “Why is your shield up?” I asked.  “Because, when it hit, my shield fogged over and I couldn’t see,” he said, “there I was, just riding down the interstate at 55 mph and then NOTHING, that was the only time I nearly panicked.”  “John, I don’t think we should have said that ‘The rain was fleeing from us or lets go eat some rain thing’,” I said.

 

So for the next 200 miles we rode from downpour to downpour, with enough space between them to just about dry out and then BAM, we would hit it again.  Once, we were riding down Hwy 301 admiring the beautiful scenery when I saw something on the road.  As I slowed to see what it was, I realized it was a wall of water that hit us so hard I did not even have time to close my shield.  But patience and perseverance paid off and we rode under the cover of the ritzy riverside hotel in Tampa, soaked from head to boot.  We looked like drenched rats, and I think we scared the valet attendants because they wouldn’t even park our motorcycles.  But after recovering from the shock, they must have taken pity on us, because they cleared a space at the very front of the hotel and we parked right under the overhang.  That was cool.  The rest of the conference was a bust.  Every time we set foot out of the hotel it rained.  I mean, it would be nice and dry, we would walk out to dinner and we would get drenched. 

 

Sitting at Sonny’s BBQ somewhere near Ocala that night, rivers of water flowed from our clothes onto the floor as customer after customer stopped to ask if it was still raining.  When the waitress asked for our drink order, I said, “Water, what about you John?”  Through steely eyes, John replied, “anything but water, I have had enough water for one trip.”  As the trip neared an end, I said grace at dinner.  Praying and thanking the Lord for the rain he sent to heal our parched land, I raised my eyes to see John staring a hole through me.  “Why are you praying for rain, I nearly drowned,” he said.  “Well John, I have to make up for the ‘eating rain’ business” I said, “I figure if he is punishing us, we should show appreciation for it, remember Job” 

 

John said, “That’s not how you pray, Job or not, let’s leave rain out of it, OK?”

 

 On the morning we left Tampa, I took John to a motorcycle store to get him an anti-fog shield and a better rain suit, he now had three rainsuits.  One he left at home, one he brought that did not work, and the new one.  “You know, my wife hates you,” John said to me.  “Why,” I said, “I love Linda.”  “Yeah, but she blames you for all this motorcycle stuff.”  Oh well, I guess that is the price you pay for opening your friend’s eyes to the wonders of motorcycling. 

 

The trip home was much the same, 250 miles of rain.  But this time we were prepared and we had a great trip.   We hit our last rain in South Carolina and then the skies opened to the same Carolina Blue we saw when we left.  John and I learned a lot.  John no longer has a fear of riding in the rain, as John said, “After the flood, Noah didn’t worry about fishing anymore.”  I also learned why many motorcyclists wear those fully waterproof ¾ length coats that I never found very attractive.  Strangely enough, I now have my eyes set on one.  As for the conference, it was so bad that the best part was the ride to get there and the ride to come home.  Hey John, I may be going to Texas in September (isn’t that hurricane season?) – want to go? 

 

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MOTORCYCLES AND MOUNTAIN ROADS

District Attorney Michael Parker explains his love of motorcycles and the Scenic By-Ways of the Uwharrie Mountains

by DA Michael Parker


           
It all began last year when I sold my car.  I had this great idea, I would get rid of my old car and drive my diesel truck-cutting my expenses.  Since I had a little money left over, I asked, “Honey, can I get a motorcycle?”  My wife thought a moment, “Well, your insurance is paid up, I don’t care.”  Three days later, I had it, a new-to-me 2002 Honda Shadow 1100!  And all was right with the world.  Then disaster struck. 


 

As District Attorney for Richmond, Anson and Stanly Counties (in the heart of the Uwharries), I travel 30,000 miles/year.  Did I mention my truck gets 18 mpg?  Or that a month after I bought the bike fuel prices shot up to close to $5.00 per gallon?   So I did what I had to do, I started riding it to work.  All through winter I rode, through spring, then summer and now a year has passed.  By the time you read this, I will have logged 20,000 miles.


Between the Conference of District Attorneys and the Rural Courts Commission, upon which I serve, I have been from Murphy to Manteo and from Wilmington to Banner Elk (when there was snow on the ground!).  As I write this now, I can look out of my hotel window in Blowing Rock and watch the snow fall.  I am on the Continental Divide (3660 feet per my GPS), my bike is safely tucked on the porch of the Green Park Inn,
www.greenparkinn.com, and I can’t wait to ride home 28 degrees or not.  Mind you, it does not hurt that I love to ride.  My wife says I am much happier since I started riding, that’s because it is much cheaper than a psychiatrist.

Just north of Murphy, NC there is a little place called Deal’s Gap.  Deal’s Gap’s claim to fame is that the finest motorcycle road in North America runs through it.  Hwy 129 descends the mountain for 11 miles making 318 turns, it has become known as the Tail of the Dragon, www.tailofthedragon.com, and it attracts riders from all over the world.  I rode the Tail in August 2008 and I have the shirt to prove it!  But, having criss-crossed this state for the last year on two wheels, I was amazed to realize that we have the finest motorcycle roads east of the Blue Ridge Mountains right here! 

The Uwharrie’s offer great twisties, great sweepers and unbelievable scenic vistas (go to the top of Morrow Mountain and you will see what I mean).  Lovejoy Road and Anthill road in Montgomery County will test any rider’s skills.  Last spring, I held a motorcycle ride to highlight the wonderful people, places and sights of my district.  It was so popular, that I now hold it twice a year.  In the spring and the fall, we try to plot a course highlighting the area, local businesses and we usually throw in a local festival because there is always something happening here. 

I love Richmond, Anson and Stanly counties.  I loved them before I became District Attorney, I love the people, I love the land and I love our businesses.  It is the greatest place in the world to live.  We are three hours from the Great Smoky Mountains and three hours from the beaches.  But if you don’t want to travel that far for fun, we have all you could want right here.  Great restaurants, good tourist attractions and wonderful recreation opportunities:  Badin Lake, Lake Tillery and the Pee Dee River split my district from top to bottom and the Uwharrie Mountains sit right in the middle.  Yeah, I might just have to leave early and detour through Anthill and Lovejoy road on the way home. 

 

Michael Parker has been a prosecutor since 1989 and has been the elected District Attorney since 2004.  If you would like to be notified of upcoming rides or events with the District Attorney, go to www.michaelparkerda.com or email him at cdamxp@hotmail.com. 





To learn more bout North Carolina's Scenic Byway System, please visit http://www.ncdot.org/doh/operations/dp_chief_eng/roadside/scenic/pdf/sb.pdf

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#2


        Last fall, I wrote about my love of motorcycles and the roads of the Sandhills and Uwharries.  Then, I was riding a 2002 Honda Shadow Spirit.  I had ridden it more than 22,000 miles from Murphy to Manteo and Wilmington to Banner Elk.  In January, I had to go to Wrightsville beach for a conference.  It snowed and I had to take the truck, bummer, but when I got called home two days into the conference, and the snow had cleared, I used the opportunity to switch to the bike to head back.  It was 28 degrees when I left Rockingham at 9 pm.  Three hours later, I pulled into the Blockade Runner with a revelation:  I was cold as a well digger’s boot and I needed more wind protection.  Now, don’t get me wrong, that Shadow was a WONDERFUL bike, I loved the way it handled and I loved throwing it into curves, but more than 8 hours in the saddle and you felt beat to death and don’t even talk about 3 hours below freezing.  Yep, there had to be a better a bike for me, so I started searching for another one. 

 

            As with all things, I asked what do I need?  I needed more wind protection, a comfortable saddle, floorboards, since I had learned that footpegs were just not comfortable after an hour, and good gas mileage, i.e. 40 + mpg, since I commute 20,000 miles per year in order to save fuel over my diesel truck.  Since I ride the bike to work (read “courthouse”) nearly ever day, lockable saddle bags were a must.  It may surprise many of you to know that not everyone I meet at the courthouse is {how shall I put this}not as honorable as you might expect.  Finally, I needed a luggage rack to carry my luggage, which includes my C-Pap machine, because I have sleep apnea, my computer, because, like American Express, I can’t leave home without it, and my suits, which people expect me to wear when I am out in public (remember I am the DA and judges don’t take too well to blue jeans). 

 

I started with Honda motorcycles because I have never owned a bad one.  The reliability, the sound, the handling, you simply couldn’t ask for more, I love them.  But I was disappointed.  The bike that meets all these requirements of course is the Gold Wing (think six cylinder Cadillac on two wheels}, but I work for the State who is, as you may know, broke.  In other words, I can’t afford a Cadillac, or a Gold Wing, so I continued looking.  The only other Honda that fit my needs was the Valkyrie (think six cyclinder Corvette on two wheels).  Ahhh, that was the ticket, but Honda quit making them in 2004.  So I started checking older models, I finally found one that I could afford and I talked the owner into a one day test drive.  Now, I am a not a small man, so the extra power was great, but the footpeg position killed my knees.  But, this is my dream bike, I can fix that with highway pegs that let you stretch your legs out.  Then I hit that first sharp curve. 

 

Now, my Shadow felt like a motorcycle: in a curve there was no limit on excitement.  But the Valkyrie was different, the weight, at least 200 pounds more, was mostly engine which was mounted much lower than my Shadow.  Because the center of gravity was so low, the Valkyrie handled like it was NAILED to the road; in fact it is the most stable bike I have ever ridden.  Behind a tractor trailer, there was no wind disturbance (which is good), but on that curve, it felt like driving a car.  Ok, I think to myself, which is good.  More stable, safer, I can get used to this.  Then it happened.  I filled it up:  33 mpg.  What the . . . I could get that in an Impala, except that I work for the state and they are broke.  So, with a broken heart, I return my dream bike and went home to continue my search.   Now here is the problem.  For lockable bags, Honda offers nothing else except the sport touring bikes, which kill my knees and can’t carry my computer or suits.  So, reluctantly, I start looking outside my brand. 

 

I looked at Harleys, but I work for the State and we are broke.  I looked at Suzuki but no hard bags.  So, I looked at Star (formerly Yamaha), now they have some cool bikes.  Their new touring bikes look awesome, sound good, and by all reports, handle well.  In fact, their new 950 is one of the best looking bikes I have seen, but I wanted a little more power than my Shadow 1100, just in case my wife someday loses her mind and agrees to ride with me – keep your fingers crossed - and the 950 is going backwards.  The 1300 Star was perfect, attractive, all the touring accessories, extra power and, drum roll please:  lockable bags.  BUT, lockable bags only came out last year on their new bikes and, I work for the State, yada, yada , yada. 

 

So, next it was Kawasaki and that is where I found it:  the Nomad.  Larger than my Shadow, luggage rack, floorboards, comfortable backseat (just in case my wife goes insane, remember, fingers crossed) and, best of all, the coolest lockable saddlebags on the market and 40+ mpg.  OK, this holds promise.  Wonder how much I can get a used one for?  Off to the internet, BINGO, there she was, burgundy and gold, 2003, Mustang seat (think La-Z-Boy) and all the goodies for . . . . a price even someone working for the State could afford.  DING, DING, DING – we have a winner.  Now, where is it?  Venice.  OK, that is going to be a problem.  I love long distance travel, but Venice?  Isn’t that the sinking city in Italy.  I don’t have enough rain gear to ride it home – oh wait, that says “FL.”  OK, that is more doable, at least it is on the same continent!  So, after a few calls to friends, a visit to two banks and some, shall we say, begging to my wife because she would be more comfortable on this one (which was when she wanted know, strangely enough, if I thought she had lost her mind:  “No, honey, of course not” while thinking “not yet, but I’ve got my fingers crossed!”) I bought it.  Now, how do I get it home? 

 

Well, Venice, FL, for those of you who don’t know, is SOUTH of Sarasota, which I think is just north of Cuba, i.e. a LONG way.  There is, however, an old saying about the difference between Americans and Europeans:  Europeans believe 500 years is a short time and 500 miles is a long way, while Americans believe 500 years is a long time and 500 miles is a short distance.  Being American, 650 miles did not seem that far, after all it’s not like the bike was in Venice, Italy (checked Mapquest to be sure and it’s not).  So the planning started.

 

I’ve always wanted to travel by train and there happens to be a depot in Hamlet, which of course was a sign, so I took the train – at 11:21 pm – and rode for 14 hours without my C-Pap machine.  I picked the bike up at 5 pm and rode 45 miles to Badenton, FL for the night.  The next day, I stopped at a dealership and had them check over the bike.  At 12 noon I hit the interstate. 

 

Now, if you have never ridden a motorcycle on the interstate, it is great running 70 mph – for about 30 minutes.  Beyond that, it becomes monotonous - mile after mile of straight concrete.  Before I got to Jacksonville, FL, I was thinking about our Uwharrie roads.  In Georgia, I started wondering how this wonderful new-to-me bike would handle in the mountains.  In South Carolina, I was imagining the smell of the spring air back home, the beauty of our trees as they flashed past and the curves of our scenic byways passing beneath my wheels.  Before I got to North Carolina, I had to exit early just to feel our great Carolina roads flowing past.  When I pulled into my driveway at midnight, I was planning my Spring Motorcycle Ride – and it would be one with far more character than the 615 miles of straight asphalt I had just traveled – not just because of the new-to-me bike, but because Florida, Georgia and South Carolina had taught me that when it comes to motorcycle riding, there is no place like home in the Uwharries and the Sandhills. 

 

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