...when your bike is worth more than your car!
By Lieutenant Tony Gibson
Special Operations Division
Event Commander for the Conference
Wanna-be Bike Unit Guy
“I didn’t know bikes did that,” my wife said, as I explained how I saw riders in an advanced class go over a skinny little 2 x 4 piece of wood, up onto pallets stacked up at nosebleed levels and then back onto another 2 x 4. I can tell you that my bike doesn’t do that!! At least not with me on it. And “oh”, I went on, “you should have seen the obstacle course race thing at Eldorado Park; it was intense.” That Aussie jumped like six steps, it was incredible! “Oh man,” I was telling my non-police friend and fellow mountain biker, you should have been at the BBQ at the Galleria.
This EMS guy from some southern state was a part-time auctioneer and he auctioned off stuff for Special Olympics. He was a riot! If you follow redneck humor, “Let’s get ‘er done!” prevailed, because he raised hundreds of dollars for the Special Olympics on stuff that Ron Gorski had been collecting for months (some of it under suspicious circumstances). Between the raffle and the auction, we raised more than $2300. If you want to see how Ron did it, go to his website,"shakedownmaster.com". And then there was the poor student who came limping in after one of the off-road rides. All I could think of was that song by the surfing band, “The Surfaris” – Wipeout! Wait a minute, this was the fun part. Let me take you back three months.
It was January 7th, 2005, when I first learned that that there was a bike conference coming to Scottsdale. I wasn’t in the bike unit, never had been. I was a motor for six years and that was the closest I had come to riding two wheels on the job. I was pretty sure riding a motor was tougher than riding a bike. Wrong. OK, first thing on bikes – you have to pedal them. And just a heads-up – you have to go uphill sometimes and over things that “aren’t natural.” And then of course there’s that pedaling thing again. That’s work. But back to the conference thing this bike group needed. I’ve done a few conferences, lots of events. So what, pray tell, does this IBMPA, or MBPIA or whatever need? A big room, lots of little breakout rooms? Been there done that. What??? They need what? Pads, bikes, smoke grenades, bike pumps, pre-planned bike rides, guns, overheads, wood…wood – you have to build things?
What there’s more? Oh yeah! Bike stands, radios, computers, cones, 24/7 command post, batteries, paperclips (the fancy kind) tents, security guards, bullets, sand bags and sand, bike mechanics, banners, trolleys, lights, ice, water, copy machine, vans, and trailers for bikes and more vans, t-shirts, ball caps, more cones, four off site venues, rain day site, airport transportation, a shooting range, more cones, grass to fall in, and wrestle in (green grass…in Arizona??)….and oh yeah, try to limit the OT. OK – wait!!! Time out!!!
How many instructors, 10, 15? No, more like 50 and by the way, that one instructor likes his water cooled to 59 degrees, stirred, not shaken, served in a plastic fluted bottle. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. The bottle didn’t have to be plastic.
And while you’re at it, you better review the outlines for resources needed because some of the things have changed since Ron Gorski last attended any actual classes in 1988, and that one instructor is going to need a translator. He’s from London! Great! Sounds like no problem. “OK, good,” said my boss, “because they’re coming here April 16th and we haven’t started on this yet.” Great. Get me a Tylenol. Well, two months later, and about $1 billion in long distance charges between Maureen B. and the bike unit, we were ready.
I have to tell you that although the bike unit worked hours and hours getting ready and then ten days straight, we had a great time. To quote one of my guys on day four, who stood there disheveled, red-faced, sweat dripping from his chin, but with a smile on his face, “attending these things is a lot more fun than putting one on!” But, there were lots of “Kodak moments” and some wonderful memories. We saw old friends and made new ones, learned new things and had tons of fun.
What a great introduction to the world of police biking for me. I’m a pretty experienced mountain biker, but I ride single track, not 2 x 4’s and pallets, and not slow speed, that’s too hard! I learned that while I can ride, I lack panache. Is that a word? This was a real eye-opener. I had a great time. The people really made it fun.
Thanks IPMBA! You can come back anytime.