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Biker to start at bottom

Some people are tourists, some are travelers; Eric Cleaveland is a traveler.

"Tourists want to visit somewhere and have all the comforts of home. I hope I'm always a traveler," he said.

Leaving the comforts of home behind for a BMW motorcycle, on March 25, Cleaveland will embark on a 20,000-mile trip from Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world overlooking Antarctica to the end of the road at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska overlooking the Arctic Circle.

"It looks like a motorcycle you can climb on and ride around the world," Cleaveland said.

The BMW "GS" has been the choice of Moto Adventurers since its introduction in 1980. Often called the "Swiss Army Knife" of motorcycles, the GS has become BMW's best selling model worldwide.

"I've owned three versions of the GS and it gets better with every new model introduction," Cleaveland said. "It's tall, and kind of heavy for serious off-road riding. But with practice it can handle just about anything that comes its way."

Cleaveland's local sponsor, Country Rode BMW in Fairport near Rochester, has been an integral part of the project.

"They've been a tremendous supporter in terms of all my efforts from servicing to modifying the bike," Cleaveland said.

Though the modifications include a taller windscreen, a suspension upgrade, a custom seat and a luggage upgrade among others, the bike is a far cry from the comforts of Cleaveland's Cazenovia home.

"The motorcycle is the most direct connection to the sights and smells and sound," Cleaveland said. "And I've always been drawn to the end of the road."

A motorcycle collector, Cleaveland has spent a lifetime traveling the world and taking pictures along the way. He recently retired as an independent rep selling and designing out door gear.

"I sold gear for other people's adventures," he said. "Now I get to see if it really works."

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