THE FAST BIKE IS FREE
The Virginia State Trooper in the unmarked car already was speeding to another call at 80 to 85 mph when a motorcycle blew past him like he was sitting still.
Frank Parker of Virginia Beach, a 27-year-old restaurant owner, was operating the bike on that August night. Or, he was trying to, anyway.
The Yamaha’s throttle had broken and stuck on U.S. 58 as he and his head waitress were heading home from work in Suffolk.
They soon were going at least 130mph . The waitress could only close her eyes and hold on tight as the trooper chased them down.
December 8, 2010, Parker and his lawyer, Bobby Howlett Jr., used a motorcycle shop repair order to persuade a Circuit Court judge to overturn Parker’s earlier convictions of reckless driving and eluding police.
Parker said he had bought the bike about three months before to save gas and savor the open air. All that was forgotten, he said, along with thoughts of his two children, his family, even dying. He was busy.
He fiddled with the clutch, but remembered stories about revving engines exploding, “and this engine is between my legs.” He also feared turning off the engine at that speed, so they just kept going faster .
He swerved around at least one car that looked like it was standing still even though it was going the speed limit. He veered left onto Interstate 264 – he didn’t want to chance the High Rise Bridge on Interstate 64 and its metal-grate surface.
“Basically, I’m just trying to maintain control of the motorcycle,” Parker said. “If you’re not used to going that speed, it’s scary.”
The trooper pulled alongside and started nudging closer. To avoid hitting him or running off the highway, Parker chanced holding in the clutch. The engine held. Parker stopped on the shoulder and killed it. The chase lasted about a minute, long enough to cover about two miles.
The waitress shook and cried. Parker shook, too. The trooper drew his gun, put his knee on Parker’s back and cuffed them both, as Parker tried to explain that he wasn’t running, his motorcycle had malfunctioned – he demonstrated it for the trooper – he has kids, he owns restaurants, he’s not a bad guy: “I’m just trying to get home from work.”
Even so, the gun pointed at him wasn’t his top priority.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” Parker remembered thinking. “The gun in my face, the handcuffs – I’m thinking: 'This doesn’t mean anything to me. ’”
He immediately sold the motorcycle at a $1,500 loss, he and Howlett said.
“I don’t think he’s ever going to ride again,” Howlett said.
Parker doesn’t rule it out – but on a cruisier, not a sport bike.