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I


began planning a ride to see what became known as The Great Amer- ican Eclipse several months ago. The plan was simple enough: find two points, each a day’s ride from


my home in northeast Ohio, one to the west and one to the southeast, each of which would allow a half-day ride to the area of totality. When the eclipse was only four or five days away, I would pick which area was most likely to have clear skies and make a hotel reservation at what would then be my base camp city. On the day of the eclipse I would ride into the area of totality, witness the eclipse, then ride back to the base camp city. The plan accommo- dated the distance I had to ride and would avoid the inflated rates that were being asked for hotel rooms near the centerline of totality. I pitched the idea of this ride to several


of my riding buddies. My friend Dan, whose touring bike is a Triumph Trophy SE, committed to the ride. The others probably thought I was a bit crazy to ride that far for an event that would last less than two minutes. As the forecast became reasonably reli-


able I chose the point to the southeast, Lex- ington, Kentucky, as my base of operation and Livingston, Tennessee as the place to watch the Eclipse. Lexington was a day’s ride from northeast Ohio, and the hotels were not over priced. Livingston was chosen because it was on


the northern edge of the area of totality, was a small town with a nice city park, and was off the beaten path. I created routes using Google Maps, con-


verted them to GPX files, and transferred them to my Nav IV via Garmin’s much- maligned Base Camp software. We rode from Dan’s house in Wooster,


Ohio, to Lexington the day before the eclipse, leaving in the middle of the morn- ing and taking mostly secondary roads. Only about an hour’s worth of the five plus hour trip was on interstate highway. We rode through some great scenery on


the way down and crossed two remarkable bridges, one over the Ohio River and one over the Cumberland River in Kentucky. The styles were vastly different. The first was the William H. Harsha Bridge, a cable- stayed bridge that carries Routes 62 and 68 over the Ohio River at Aberdeen, Ohio. It


60 BMW OWNERS NEWS October 2017


was opened in the year 2000 and is a splen- did tribute to modern bridge engineering. The other had no name, but was an


interesting squared-design. The steel struc- ture’s surface was allowed to rust creating a pleasing hue of reddish brown. Light poles in the middle would illuminate it at night. It was like riding through a brown box. My 2010 RT ran flawlessly, comfortable


on the long stretches and very agile when things got more interesting. Dan’s Trophy, which we know looks remarkably like the RT but for the absence of the cylinder heads protruding from the sides of


the


engine, also gave us no problems and matched the RT the whole way in terms of speed and fuel consumption. Dan is a fine rider, and we took turns taking the lead. Livingston proved to be a great destina-


tion. The city had organized a public event in its practically new park. We arrived early enough to get a place to park our bikes and throw down a tarp at the edge of shelter. There was live music, free food, and free bottled water. The people around us, a collection of


adults, senior citizens and little kids, were all in a great mood and extremely friendly. Even when I revealed that I was a Yankee from Ohio they still treated us well. They all ignored Dan’s provocative shirt which proclaimed Ohio State as National Champions. The weather was good with a few clouds


that created some concerns around noon. But by the time the Eclipse was underway the clouds had dissipated and the skies were clear and blue. At some point in the beginning of the


trip I made the flip remark that a journey does not become an adventure until some- thing goes wrong. It did. As I was attempt- ing to get up from our tarp to watch the beginning of the eclipse I lost my balance and twisted my left knee. The pain was immediate. I could barely put any weight on my left leg. It began to swell. This was not good. I managed to enjoy the eclipse, witness-


ing the corona, the beads and the diamond ring effects at the beginning and end. But then came the reality that I was hundreds of miles from home and doubted I could handle the weight of the RT, much less get on or off of it. The people around us were remarkable. I


was offered a place to sit, food, cold water, and pain medication. The local EMT’s arrived, checked my knee for mobility, and then applied a cold pack, securing it with a flexible wrap bandage. I was dependent upon and accepted the


kindness of strangers. Seriously hobbled by the injury, with


Dan’s help I somehow got on my bike. We then rode to Lexington, about 146 miles and nearly three hours away. It was not pleasant. The pain was constant and my leg was painful and stiffening. The staff at my hotel, another group of


strangers, was extremely accommodating and made sure I had a supply of ice for my knee. Room service was the only option for dinner. I was offered assistance with my gear and all expressed concern for my well-being. That evening I contemplated my options:


get out the Anonymous book and seek the help of an MOA member, leave my bike at the nearby BMW dealer and fly or drive home, stay another day or two and hope the swelling and pain subsided, or gut it out and ride the 300+ miles home. After a sleepless night I chose the latter. On the day after the eclipse we rode


nearly six hours and over 300 miles, avoid- ing interstate travel for all but about the last 90 minutes. The pain and discomfort were all I could endure. A late day thunderstorm drenched us and blew the bikes around, but we made it to my house without incident. The assistance and concern of those total


strangers was matched by my riding com- panion who rode with me all the way to my home in northeast Ohio, helping me get on and off the bike at rest and fuel stops. He had intended to split off part way back and ride to his home, but he stayed with me to be sure that I arrived safely home. So the journey became an adventure.


The Great American Eclipse was all it was built up to be, but for me the kindness of others, all strangers but one, eclipsed the solar event.


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