It’s been circling us for thousands of millions of years. 

As our moon goes about its business, we go about ours by spinning underneath it.

Though not touching, both are well aware of the presence of the other.

Not only do we orbit each other, we also squeeze and distort each other, as the part of us that is closer to our partner gets pulled harder than the part that is away. This deforms us. It also makes our oceans slosh mightily. We tickle our partner in much the same way, just without the oceans.

All of this deforming and sloshing doesn’t come free of charge, somebody must pay. The main donor, the money-bags, of this hustle and bustle happens to be the energy tied up in the spin of the Earth. Our oceans are trying their damndest to go the opposite way, following the moon’s tug, while constantly saying to the continents, “pardon me, excuse me, but you’re in my way.”  The ocean’s bulge is always lagging a little bit behind where they want to be, leading the moon to go a little bit faster.

The moon used to pay with its spin energy, also, but was a little dude spending as if it was in the big leagues. Poor little thing spent it all, had to declare spin bankruptcy, and now we only get to see one side of it. I think that the judge’s sentencing read, “You are hereby Tidal Locked”. (for background, I am writing this while listening to Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon”, inspirational!!)

And “what are the ramifications of all this?” you’re probably asking. Well, the earth is slowing down, our days are getting longer, and because our oceans are egging it on, pushing, in a way, the moon is getting farther away. (very slowly, of course)

Total solar eclipses, which delight the beings that are able to understand such things, is another ramification of these celestial happenings. And being that they are quite rare in any one given location, largely because the shadow draws out such a narrow path along the ground…these occurrences make a great excuse for some of our beings to temporarily put aside their toils and troubles relating to the task of providing sufficient food energy for themselves to continue functioning properly, and also the task of making replacement copies of themselves, which is a necessity for such beings to exist and continue into the future, since all things break. Curiously, one of the two varieties these beings come in, are more likely than the other, to decide that there is sufficient excess capacity, to pause the procurement process of the necessary survival items.

I, being one of these beings, considered renting out an airplane from a flight club that I belonged to, but alas, others had the same idea. I am rather glad that all were spoken for. What was I thinking? Like a little Cessna would get me closer to this celestial event.

Augusta, Missouri happened to be smack dab in the best viewing. It also happened to have wineries and breweries. The added bonus of being on the 240-mile-long Katy bicycle trail made Augusta an obvious choice of where to go.

The line of cyclists roaring down the Katy Trail looked quite professionally constructed and rather angry in pace. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of when done right. A long line of riders tucking behind the people in front of them, as close as they dare, hiding from the wind of their speed as best they can. One by one, a new cyclist is presented to the front and to the full force of the wind, like the head of a spear. It is at this point that each newcomer must step up their game and give it hell… for a bit…then slide off to one side, and then slowly drop all of the way to the back, kick hard for just a moment or two and slide back in. When bicycles go very fast using this technique, they actually start to make quite a bit of noise, especially on a gravel trail such as the Katy. I wondered what casual cyclists thought as this train blew past them with much fury and dust.

This was the Momentum Bicycles race team. I was a Momentum Team-In-Law, as this was my wife’s team. I raced for, and was sponsored by Alpine Shop, but as an adventure race team. We didn’t have a specific bicycle team. Momentum accepted in-laws pretty well. Unfortunately, on eclipse day, my wife Mary’s job in Clayton was not of the type one could go missing willy nilly, while my absence might elicit a, “I don’t know, haven’t seen him, not sure which project he’s on today.”

Once this infestation of cyclists swarmed upon the small, mostly outdoor establishment of Augusta Brewery, their inventory began to take a hit.

not yet

After eating, drinking and gabbing about, it was time to lay on the lawn. Passers-by might think that they were witnessing the aftermath of a frat party gone terribly wrong, had it not been for our high tech, solar radiation, ocular protection gear. It was the latest in cardboard and cellophane glasses technology. The time of first ‘totality’ was known down to the second. We laid under a sky of blue, except for… one teeny tiny little puff of a cloud. As the countdown drew ever closer, we all started to draw a prediction of the trajectory of that one… one little puff of a cloud, across the sky. Eclipse totality occurred, surprisingly suddenly. And then boom, that little jerk nailed it! Instantly, a collective buzz of whaling protest came from all directions, as if the whole world groaned, or at least a very large and well synchronized flash mob. There may even have been some gnashing of teeth, to put it in biblical terms. Unlike Job, in the Book of Job, however, the little puff went past in only a handful of seconds. Though our faith in beer, friendships and solar eclipses had been put to the test…we endured!

Still not yet
OK, Now!
Ah, Where’d everybody go?

The bike ride back, had no fury, as we were well satiated and eclipsed, we just ambled along. In fact, while passing the nearby town of Defiance, Missouri, a den of biker bars, thee of the celestial seekers, Chris, Joe and myself noticed that the most diehard biker bar, the one that makes men wearing tight spandex, feel a little awkward and unwelcome, was practicality empty. Apparently, people who wear black leather and ride hogs aren’t that interested in following rare celestial events…good to know. This little fact had eluded the owners of the spandex-queasy establishment also, for they had pondered and then decided that the best way to deal with the love that never came, was to stock alcoholic Jello shots in little paper cups. They were in rows. They were in pyramids. They were in trapahedarhombuzoids. No matter the shapes that they were stacked in, they were blue and the owners had no idea what to do with them. In our charitable disposition, Chris, Joe and I stopped to help them out, while also building a bridge between the loose leather people and the tight spandex people. All it needs is a spark, singing and swaying to Kumbaya. It has to start somewhere.

After our ambassadorship had gone about as far as it could go, it was time to get back on our bikes and take our blue tongues home. The old railroad bed of the Katy Trail wasn’t as wide and straight as I had remembered. When did they decide to make that change? They’re supposed to have public meetings. While all three had put in the same amount of effort to bring the communities together, I was the car that derailed off of the Katy while clipping into my pedals. The three of us got me back on track, and off we went. Mary came home to a guy-me-sleeping flat out on top of the bed, still in his bike kit and bike shoes.

Just recently, years after the story above, the Three Amigos were hanging together after an event named, CXMas. I am paralyzed and communicate with my eye movements, as read by an infrared camera and sent through a computer. It’s a bit slow, but we’ve always been a bit slow. My head fell down towards my lap. I can’t make any noise or type on my computer when in this position. The only things that I could move were my pinky fingers. So, with Chris chattering about on one side, and Joe on the other, there I was in the middle, screaming my pinkies off. As I sit there, wondering why they can’t ‘hear’ me, I realize that my mode of communication actually looks more like I’m bored and just saying “doopty do, doopty do.”  When Mary finally notices and comes running over to put my head back where a head should be, the first thing I say is, “Dudes! I thought that we had worked this out years ago!”


I generally take a bike with me to whatever town I work in. During one particular job, I found that the cycling club of Carbondale, Illinois was quite good, despite naming themselves, “We’re The Heckowise”, after the tribe of Native Americans in the show, “F Troup”. The group was rather large and quite strong. Instead of the normal pace line, with stragglers drifting back from the front, they formed two side by side lines, both tightly packed, with one of the lines going slightly faster than the other and people swapping lines at both ends. It was a thing of beauty.