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Hey all - I thought that this was a pretty good read...

205 mph earns biker citation

Speeding ticket may be Minnesota record


Pioneer Press

Al Loney couldn't believe his stopwatch.

The Minnesota State Patrol pilot had been flying near Wabasha on Saturday afternoon, watching a pair of motorcycles racing each other along U.S. 61. When one of the bikes accelerated dramatically, Loney was ready — clicking his stopwatch when the cycle reached a white marker painted on the roadside.

A quarter-mile later, he clicked it again. It read 4.39 seconds, which Loney calculated to be an astonishing 205 mph.

"I was in total disbelief," Loney said. "I had to double-check my watch because in 27 years I'd never seen anything move that fast."

The bike was moving nearly twice as fast as Loney's airplane. After about three-quarters of a mile, the biker slowed to about 100 mph and let the other cycle catch up. By then Loney had radioed ahead to another state trooper, who pulled the two over soon afterward.

The State Patrol officer arrested the faster rider, 20-year-old Stillwater resident Samuel Armstrong Tilley, for reckless driving, driving without a motorcycle license — and driving 140 miles per hour over the posted speed limit of 65 mph.

Several law enforcement sources said Tilley might have set the record for the fastest speeding ticket in Minnesota history.

No comprehensive records are kept, but a search of speeding tickets written by state troopers, who patrol most of the state's highways, between 1990 and February 2004 shows the next fastest ticket was for 150 mph in 1994 in Lake of the Woods County.

Tilley, the son of a Washington County sheriff's deputy, did not return calls to his home Monday.

Few vehicles can reach speeds in excess of 200 mph. Only a handful of cars, such as the Dodge Viper, the Porsche Carrera and several Lamborghinis, can hit the 200 mark. But many of the so-called "crotch rocket" motorcycles popular with young men can top 175 mph. With minor modifications, they can top 200 mph. Tilley was riding a Honda 1000, Loney said.

State trooper Steve Stromback, one of the officers who arrested Tilley, said the biker was taking part in the semi-annual Flood Run, a motorcycle rally that started in Hudson, Wis. The ride, in which thousands of bikers participate, raised money for the Gillette Children's hospital this year.

Stromback said most of the participants obey the law, but added that police cited another eight bikers for driving more than 100 mph last weekend. Speed demons show up every year, Stromback said, which is why the State Patrol had aircraft and extra troopers in the area.

Kathy Swanson of the state Office of Traffic Safety said unless Tilley was wearing the kind of protective gear professional motorcycle racers wear, he was courting death riding at such a velocity.

"I'm not entirely sure what would happen if you crashed at 200 miles per hour," Swanson said. "But it wouldn't be pretty, that's for sure."

Motorcycle enthusiasts question 205 mph ticket

WABASHA, Minn. (AP) — There's little doubt that a Stillwater motorcyclist could wind up his Honda sport motorcycle past 180 mph, but members of the motorcycle racing world question whether the State Patrol was correct to cite him for 205 mph last weekend.
The State Patrol is standing by its stopwatch, and the speeding ticket a veteran trooper wrote for Samuel Tilley for driving his 2003 Honda RC51 on U.S. Highway 61 near Wabasha on the state's eastern border.

Tilley faces misdemeanor charges of speeding, reckless driving and riding without a motorcycle license. He has declined repeated requests for comment from several media outlets in the past few days.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported the details of the ticket, which is unofficially the highest ever written in the state, on Tuesday. Soon motorcycle enthusiasts were buzzing about whether Tilley really broke the 200 mph barrier.

"Theoretically, it could happen — anything is possible — but I don't believe it," said John Ulrich, editor of Roadracing World, a magazine that covers sport bike racing. "Guys who want to break speed records and go over 200 mph have to go to great lengths to get there."

Ulrich questioned the State Patrol's timing methods, in which a trooper in an airplane used a stopwatch to calculate how long it took Tilley to cover a certain distance. Other enthusiasts said if the timing were off by only a half-second, it would drop Tilley's speed to about 185 mph.

While that would be still be the unofficial state record, and within the specifications for Tilley's Honda, it wouldn't break the prestigious 200 mph mark.

Department of Public Safety Spokesman Kevin Smith there was no reason to believe the trooper, who had 27 years of experience, was wrong. He said the Honda could go 205 mph.

"What we have is what we have," Smith said. "That is the number he came up with, and there's really no going back on it."

Legally, he said, there wasn't much difference between 205 mph and 185 mph because even the lower speed wouldn't help defend against the reckless driving charge. "Let's say he was going 186 — that's still 121 mph over the speed limit. I don't see the relevance," Smith said.

As it is, motorcycle experts say that most unmodified sport bikes already top out at about 185 mph because of limits with their fuel injectors.

To get an RC51 up to 200 mph, they say, the owner would have to change the motorcycle's transmission, fuel injectors and gears — and might have to add either a supercharger or pump nitrous oxide or methane into the fuel system.

All of these changes are possible, but expensive. And anyone with those kinds of modifications isn't likely to tool around southern Minnesota with nitrous or jet fuel in his bike, they say.

"It's just not something that some dude can roll out of his garage and go for a ride and do," Ulrich said. "A hundred fifty? No problem. Two hundred? Big problem."

Tilley will get a chance to plead his case in Wabasha County District Court on Oct. 25.
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