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The Ride to Court in Bryson City: November 16-17, 2006

Photos and article by FastFred Ruddock

I rode across the Blue Ridge to attend court in Bryson City to oppose the helmet ticket I acquired at the Fall Cherokee Rally. The weather was rather nasty and at times the visibility was less than forty feet when the clouds grazed the ridge. The strong cross winds at the gaps would have challenged any green rider and likely some veteran riders. The combination of wind, rain, and cold temperatures made this ride almost unpleasant. The rain began at the Looking Glass Rock overlook just prior to Graveyard Fields. However my pagan deity must have smiled upon me for as I arrived in Bryson City the rain stopped for a few hours so I could eat, visit with locals, and study my notes one more time.

Friday morning I went to the courthouse looking forward to my day in court. However the District Attorney informed all of us that we would not have court but rather only an administrative meetings with him to determine whether our cases merited trials. I found this both odd and somewhat insulting after riding 300 miles to have my day in court. The DA seemed shocked I wanted a trial; he though he had a strong case with no chance of failure. However his demeanor changed when I mentioned a few finer points of the NC helmet law such as the fact the Legislature failed to define the term "safety helmet" and that I was in fact not bear headed at the time of my traffic stop. After a brief discussion the DA began to seem quite frustrated and asked me what I wanted him to do!

I told him "I reckon you can throw out the ticket or schedule a court date as I came here prepared for my day in court." He then asked me what were the thick stack of papers in my possession. I just told him those papers were my notes for court as I had expect to have my day in court today. I did not by any means show all of my cards to the opposition. The DA could only see part of the first sheet of my notes which contained questions for the arresting officer. By this time he seemed to have the same bewildered look of so many law enforcement officers I had encountered during my lidless rides in WNC. I suppose he was trying to decide what to do.

The DA did finally decide to set a court date. I suggested that since he and the state were so concerned about my safety it might be wise to set the date for early spring as I only own motorcycles and doubt they wished for me to ride over icy mountain roads as a result this unexpected delay of my day in court. He asked when and I suggested April. Then he counter offered March 15th which I accepted.

Well it is not over and I have nearly four more months to study and prepare. The down side is this trip cost over $200. I suspect the whole ploy on the part of the state was DA was for no more than to intimidate and tax citizens into forfeiting their constitutional right to trial. The mountain tops of the Blue Ridge were all white with ice and snow upon my return.

No one ever said freedom was cheap and it seems this fight will be no exception but at least I'm enjoying the ride!

Strake scenery

Storm clouds looming

Near Asheville and Hendersonville

The French Broad River

An interesting sign and dire warning

The rain began here

Mist and rain at Looking Glass Rock

Great Smoky Mountain Railway

Bryson County Courthouse

The clouds parted as I left "court"

Ice on the mountains after noon

Asheville on Broadway...

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