Adventure Moto Eclipse

“My jimmies are jingling!” I yelled at my adventure riding buddy as we were enveloped by a 100% eclipse of the sun.

The road rumor was if a weary adventure motorcyclist managed to get himself into the 100% zone of the eclipse, stood naked, except for his boots, the two and a half minutes of totality would connect him with the cosmos. While connected his adventure motorcycle mojo would be recharged.

Road-hammered, economically and psychologically beat up, I was finishing my sixth ride around the world. A pit stop for a few days of ground-pounding on the Big Dog Adventure Ride (see the story in the October 2017 issue or at HorizonsUnlimited.com/bigdog for more) trickle charged my batteries about 5%, that being from the camaraderie of the entrants.

One Big Dog, a multi-year veteran, broke his leg on this year’s Big Dog Adventure Ride. He lamented that he’d likely miss the solar eclipse in Wyoming two weeks later. I asked, “What’s with this eclipse?”

He said it was a cosmic experience, and then opined, “You’re a Woodstock survivor, two-time naked Burning Man, and six times around the world on motorcycles, and you’re not doing the eclipse?”

Artwork by Mr. Jensen

I reflected on the mentioned adventures, two legged and two wheeled, and did feel I came away from them with a changed cosmic outlook of my inner adventurous self. Maybe there was something to this eclipse that could re-charge my mojo?

My last year had been a tough one. After surviving six weeks on a BMW F700GS rolling around southern Africa on the Soft  Butt leg of a world tour, I had been abandoned by my riding pal in Cape Town who had bunny- hopped back to his womb in the USA. Faced with throwing in the towel and admitting failure as he did, I soldiered on alone across Europe and Asia. Doing so had been a significant hit to my “Take Care of Friends” savings set aside for certain individuals in my Last Will and Testament, but since they don’t know about the savings I figured they would understand receiving what was left, which was better than nothing.

Instead of taking the easy way across Asia from Europe, through Russia, I opted to do the needed miles through the country that topped a list as one of the 20 most dangerous in the world, and the world’s deadliest country for two wheel motorcycles, Thailand. A month in Thailand scored me the final miles needed for my global loop but pushed my adventure riding envelope to extremes as I opted not to take a guided tour or the easiest way.

Upon landing in Los Angeles, rather than aim quickly back to the security of my home base, I vectored south towards Mexico, then across to Arizona, and finally tripped slowly north with the pit stop in Colorado for the Big Dog Adventure Ride. Part of the meandering route to my home base was to bag a few extra miles, part was to visit with a few friends no longer riding motorcycles due to age and physical impairments, and part to put off admitting, “This surely is the end of my global circumnavigations, my last ‘round the world ride. My adventure motorcycle mojo is 99.9% gone, much of it beat out of me.”

A chance to get that 99.9% mojo back was found on a cliff overlooking the town of Lander, Wyoming on the day of the total eclipse of the sun. #6 in the Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally had joined me, having ridden his 1995 BMW R100GS PD Classic from Seattle. He needed some mojo recharging, having been drained by work.

We parked in a field, spread a ground cloth and tested our eclipse glasses for looking at the sun. I explained how earlier in the week I had listened to an astrophysicist tell how we could connect with the cosmos only this one time, in this one 100% zone. Our expectations were high as we lay on the ground and looked skyward.

As the moon started to block the sun it became 10-15 degrees cooler, as we were dressed noticeably light. My feet were warm but the rest was cold, almost to the point of putting on my riding jacket and pants, but I toughed it out. I’d not want to face other hardened adventure motorcyclists who might have discovered I’d wimped out from 100% exposure with my cosmic connection.

Did I make the cosmic connection and get my adventure riding mojo back?

Two days after having been eclipsed, #6 and I decided that rather than stick to pavement riding for the next day, we would attempt an off-road ride to the top of the Pryor Mountains, where we might see some of the herd of wild horses. The last miles were ugly, with plenty of chances for a get-off through bowling ball sized and loose sex stones (fucking rocks!) and trenches from rain and ATVs, but we reached the top with our off-pavement adventure riding egos intact. A few weeks earlier I had ridden over Hagerman Pass in Colorado, banging the skid plate and stopping to rest, my ego bruised as others passed me panting on my gas tank. Not so to the top of the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range.

As a sidebar to having been eclipsed, #6’s ultimate driving machine had an engine bolt pull out of the case, causing his ultimate riding machine to be a silver bird winging its way back to Seattle. It also suffered from total darkness when the low beam on its headlight went dark. My Kawasaki KLR650 suffered a less ride-ending fate, a loosened windscreen bolt, which was an easy roadside fix.

As for #6, he had not noticed his jimmies jingling, but had become forgetful, leaving his needed laptop in the transport car as he was let off at the airport and his sunglasses in his tank bag resting in a BMW repair shop.

I also noticed an increased degree of forgetfulness in myself, having left my riding back protector at the same BMW repair shop and not noticing it missing for 100 miles.

On the up side, my cranial hard drive had seemingly been scraped of some of the clutter from the last year. Instead of thinking about the near-death experiences I’d had, my reflections while driving the Beartooth Highway and my last miles home on the Interstate were of some of the pretty two legged dears I had seen in Cali, Colombia and Thailand.

The winds howled, “Dr. G has his adventure motorcycle mojo back!”

This story originally appeared in our October 2017 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.

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