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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 2/7/2010 4:35 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I would like to thank all the people who had shared their sympathy with me on continuing on the road alone at this point in time. Despite the fact that Cynthia isn’t joining the expedition, she is still very much involved with this budding corporation as she is still the secretary and a director on the board. She is an amazing person and has a lot to bring to the table besides keeping me company and I would rather have her as a friend than losing her altogether.

When I arranged the training courses with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation two months ago the MSF was generous enough to offer us a private Dirt Bike Course for just the two of us on top of the Basic Rider Course, which we documented previously. Since Cynthia virtually had no practice on a bike since Hesperia, she was reluctant to take the dirt course but was willing to accompany me down to the Honda Training Center in Colton located in Southern California to take video and pictures while I took the course. I was eager to take the course and build up on my skills as I will be encountering many dirt and mud roads in different countries in the course of this expedition, and this training offered an invaluable opportunity to learn the ropes on how to better my riding.

We left Bakersfield in an eye-blinding morning fog at 5:30 a.m. wrapped in layers of fleece and protective gear, but the cold kept seeping in as we rode over the Tejon Pass at 4183 ft. It took us about four and a half hours to make it to Colton, CA.

The Honda Training Center is one of only four of its kind in the United States. It is an amazing facility which accommodates many kinds of motorcycle training as well as All Terrain Vehicles. They pretty much thought of everything when they built this place. They even built a dirt trail system with cactuses, trees, rocks, stairs, and a mud pit (I don’t know if the mud pit was intentional but the recent rains had made a pretty good one).

Though we arrived late, our instructor from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Jun Villegas, met us with a smile. Although Cynthia was only planning to take pictures, Jun encouraged her to at least try getting on the bike and took us to the gear room to set us up with motocross gear. The course started covering the basics just like in the Basic Rider Course, from getting to know all the controls to spider-walking the bike. I was amazed at how quickly Cynthia felt comfortable on the bike and to her disbelief, she actually remembered all the things that she learned in the Basic Rider Course.

It must be a requirement in MSF’s hiring process to only hire the nicest, most encouraging, and positive people on the planet because I have not encountered one grumpy or impatient MSF instructor to this day, and Jun was no exception. For myself, I have no problem to get yelled at or criticized as long I’m learning and I have no problem to take on harder stuff right off the bat. However, I am sure it gets frustrating for the first-timers to process so much information in such a short time but that’s where the competency and patience of the MSF instructors shines through as their positive attitudes and words make all the difference.

The day went on with riding our butts off (both seated and standing) on different exercises like counter-weighting in turns, and riding over obstacles. I loved riding closed circles as fast and as tight as I could, and Jun did not freak out as I tried going faster and lower to the ground. We had a lot of fun trying different techniques and especially riding the trails around the property at the end of the day.

Cynthia was a trouper and despite a couple of spills, she kept on getting back on the saddle with a joyful smile and riding away. The most memorable incident was at the end of the day. I was directly behind her and Jun was in the front as we approached a tight turn. Jun shifted his weight and cornered fine. When I saw Cynthia approaching that corner at that speed, I had an epiphany that this was not going to end well and before I finished my thought, she was sliding and heading for the trees to the right side of the trail. She freaked out and turned the handle-bar to the left and ended up climbing a steep hill to the left covered in boulders. She ended up going between two boulders with her legs wide open while screaming and somehow managed to not crash into anything. The amazing thing was that she kept on rolling the throttle full-blast and would not let go as she missed a tree by inches and stopped near the top of the hill without a scratch.

I can strongly say that this course was the most fun and challenging thing I have done in a long time and Cynthia agrees as well. Anyone who rides motorcycles or even has the slightest interest in riding on two wheels should take this course. I would even suggest taking this course before the Basic Rider Course as it’s a fun way to start learning how to ride as there is no pressure to pass or fail in order to obtain a waiver exempting you from taking the DMV skill test.

Thanks again to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for granting us this great opportunity and many thanks to Stacey Hall at MSF for arranging the trainings. She worked very hard to make them happen and we are eternally grateful to her and MSF. For more information on how you can enroll to take this course in your area, click on the MSF logo on top of this site and get dirty.

Please see the website for the video of the course.


The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 2/13/2010 9:07 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
FEB, 12TH. IRAN, TEHRAN

At long last, the endless project of completing the IRS paperwork for 501(c)(3) status is completed which takes a huge load off of our shoulders. I wouldn’t do it again for a million dollars as the process was intense, complicated, meticulous and not fun at all. Just when I thought that I could rest for a few days, I ended up leaving the motorcycle in California and flying out of LAX to Tehran, Iran due to a family emergency.

I was born in Iran and lived there until I was 18 years old. Most of my family migrated to the United States starting from my oldest uncle three decades ago. My grandparents whom I dearly love are still living in Shiraz, my birthplace. My elderly grandfather is not doing very well, hence my excursion to the forbidden land.

I call it the forbidden land as everything is forbidden for one reason or another. From the heavily-filtered internet and disputed elections, to capital punishment for dog-walking in public (Dogs get executed by hanging, not the owners), there is always something to get a good kick out of. Despite all of this, Iran is a lovely country with an amazing history, mesmerizing scenery and the most welcoming people around.

You know you are in Iran the second you walk out of the airplane and stand in one of the never ending lines (even for killing yourself, you still have to stand in line in Iran) to the immigration and maze of suitcases full of western merchandise piled up at the customs waiting to be released. Tehran’s airport has been moved 60 miles out of the city and even though I arrived at 3:30 am, the whole city was alive with the preparation for the February 11th demonstration and the opposition protest of the recent election. The heavy presence of police was felt on every corner and frequent search stops brought me back to the reality I was away from for so long.
My aunt and her family live in Tehran so I have been visiting with them for a few days. It is great to see my cousins and hear their stories as they try to fill me in on the recent changes and of course, the inflation of prices. I had no interest in spending my short visit here in one of the notorious Iranian prisons, so I stayed away from all the political dramas of the revolution’s anniversary on February 11th.

Everything was shut down due to all the holidays, and I had to wait four days to buy a plane ticket to Shiraz, so I tried to make use of my time by checking out some of the museums and historical sites around Tehran. One of the places I visited was the Ancient Persia Museum in Southern Tehran. My visit was a bittersweet experience as it was hard for me to see billions of dollars worth of historical artifacts sitting so shamelessly in what I can only describe as the most careless and lackadaisical manner with florescent lamps lighting up the show floor like a ghost town. The materials are fascinating and range mostly from 2nd to 5th millennium BC, covering from the Stone Age to the magnificent Persian empire. Artifacts from 7000 years ago are on display in glass cases, and one can’t help but marvel at the craftsmanship of the early Persians. (If you believe that the world is only 6000 years old, Iran is probably not a country to visit as it might shed some serious light on your biblical beliefs.)

Just north of Tehran, starts a 200 kilometers two-lane road called the Chalous Highway which twists and turns all the way to the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran. There are tunnels after tunnels which have been dug out the heart of Alborz Mountain range, and it’s one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Iran. There are no camels contrary to popular belief, and snow-covered mountains cover the area. Much of the forests are memories of the past and have long given their places to cheap villas, shopping malls and ice cream parlors. You see more trash on and off the road than ever before. It makes me furious to see what my people have done to this once pristine landscape while still claiming to be glorious Persians.
I’m flying south to Shiraz in a day or two and will post more reports once I get there. I’m planning to visit a few orphanages and will cover the poverty of the rural life of Southwestern Iran so long as I can find an internet connection to get the news out. Till next time …


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The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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jon
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   Posted 2/13/2010 9:59 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
nice pix!
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GAJ
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   Posted 2/14/2010 2:05 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thank you for a most informative post.

Look forward to more.

My understanding is that Iranians are very "pro USA" but don't trust the Brits any further than they can throw them.

They believe the USA is the puppet of the evil vestiges of the British Empire.

True?
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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 2/15/2010 9:06 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
FEB, 15TH. IT’S ALL ENGLAND’S FAULT

First, I would like to thank Steve Davison for his generous donation. Although I’m not in the States right now due to a family emergency, but the mission is still the same and the rest of the directors are taking care of everything. I received a rather historical question on Iran’s relation with foreign countries from an interested blog reader. I’m no expert, but here’s my humble attempt to shed more light on Iran’s history so the American readers can understand where the hyped-up media reports come from. This was written to give an insight, however small to the recent history of Iran with the hope of better explaining the background of its people. It is not an accusation nor is it a defense of any government.

Iran was known as Persia until its name was officially changed to Iran in 1935. Iran is not an Arab country. In fact, it is an insult to call Iranians Arab. Iran was invaded by the Arabs in 644 A.C. The religion before the conquest was Zoroastrianism and is still practiced in Iran. Contrary to the claims of apologists, Iranians in fact, fought long and hard against the invading Arabs. Once politically conquered, the Persians began to resist the Arabs culturally and succeeded in forcing their own ways on the Arabs, and it’s not a coincidence that Iran holds the largest Muslim Shi’a denomination which is a minority in Muslim world. The Arab states (Sunnis) have never been an ally to Iran with the odd exception of Syria and have gone to great lengths to even name the Iranian territories by Arabic names and the biggest abomination of all, calling the Persian Gulf the Arabian Gulf.

“It’s all England’s fault,” goes the semi-humorous saying that has been repeated in Iran for centuries. Russia, England and the United States have been always controversial in Iran. Great Britain is traditionally blamed for all the troubles in Iran with the United States considered the “Great Satan.” Russia is hated for the confiscation of two provinces in Northern Iran in 1813, due to incompetency of one particular Persian king, Fath Ali Shah. The invading Russian armies occupied the Aral coast in 1849, Tashkent in 1864, Bukhara in 1867, Samarkand in 1868, and Khiva and Amudarya in 1873. The Treaty of Akhal, in which the Iranians were forced to cede Khwarazm, topped off Persian losses to the global emerging power of Imperial Russia. That’s enough loss to make any Iranian have a second thought when it comes to deal with anything Russian.

England has a long history of colonialism as we already know, and when it came down to rich Persia, they were ecstatic about what they could get out of it. Before 1800, the Brits had no substantial influence as the Persian kings were particularly strong and oil was not their priority. However, after the 18th century, most of the Persian kings started their leisure excursions to the European countries and were mesmerized by the way of life abroad, which paved the way for the British government to hack its way through Persia. In fact, Iran’s current southern and eastern boundaries were determined by none other than the British during the Anglo-Persian War from1856 to 1857.

In 1941, in midst of the Second World War, Russia and Great Brittan yet again, ignored the Iranian neutrality plea and invaded Iran forcing the king, Reza Pahlavi, to leave the country in exile and shifting the power to his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last king of Iran.

At the end of World War II, there came a new rival to the traditional two-pole foreign influence of Russia and England. This time the United States moved in to convert Iran to an anti-communist state in the rage of the Cold War, and that ended the long-lived Russian influence in Iran, but the Brits stayed close on the scene.

In 1951, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran’s prime minister, started a movement which led to the nationalization of the oil and gas industry and by that, cutting the hands of the Brits off the liquid gold. What the Brits paid the Iranians for oil before the nationalization was nothing but highway robbery, and they were not happy to see it go. The United States also saw its interests in danger and shook hands with Great Britain to bring down the prime minister. In November and December of 1952, British intelligence officials suggested to American intelligence that the prime minister should be ousted. On April 4, 1953 the CIA director, Allen Dulles, approved $1 million to be used “in any way that would bring about the fall of Mosaddegh”. Mosaddegh became aware of the coup and dissolved the parliament. The CIA plan, however, was carried out to insure the United States’ and Great Britain’s cheap access to the Iranian oil. On August 19, 1953 the planned coup came to a successful end and by that, the only democratic government Iran has ever seen came to an end. Mosaddegh was imprisoned for 3 years and spent the rest of his life under house arrest until his death in 1967. Yet again, the coup confirmed the lifelong suspicion of the Iranian people that nothing good ever comes out of foreign relations.

In the winter of 1979, after a decade of uprising, the Iranian revolution finally became a reality and with that came the end of 2,500 years of monarchy in Persia. Shortly after, the Islamic Republic of Iran was formed under the supervision of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, and little by little, the secular west-praising Iran shifted to a Muslim state which scared the hell out of the neighboring Arab countries as well as the Western powers.

The Arabs were concerned because they didn’t want Iran to export its Shi’a revolution to their Sunni-run countries, and the West was concerned for the seemingly over-the-top fundamentalist leaders of the new republic. This concern was heightened when Iran invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took 53 diplomats hostage for 444 days during the Carter Administration which ended on January 20, 1981, twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the new president.

On September 22, 1980, with the backing of the Arabian states, the demented leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, decided to take advantage of the revolution’s chaos in Iran by invading the Iranian soil from Northwest to South on the old claim of border disputes, thus beginning the Iran-Iraq War. Iraqi armies advanced full throttle for the central and the oil-rich south, killing and destroying what they could on their way. By March 1980, the invasion came to a stall, and Iraq’s army did not advance another mile from what they had already taken and that included the city of Khoramshahr in Khuzestan province. Nothing major happened in the following year, but in March 1982, Iran took on the offensive and inch by inch, the Iranian military took back all of the occupied territories by July 1, 1982.

In 1982 the Arabian states came together and offered the total reconstruction of damages by compensating Iran to end the war. Iran denied the offer, and the war raged for another six long years as the Iranian government made it its mission to advance until the occupation of Baghdad and put an end to Saddam’s regime.

The United States along with other European and Arab countries contributed greatly in weapons and economic aid to Iraq during the war. The Soviet Union, perhaps, was the number one supplier of weaponry and military advisors to Iraq during the war to the extent that, at the end of the war Iraq owed the Soviet Union almost $10 billion in military debts alone. The Soviet Union also sold weapons and ammunitions to Iran, completing its race for the weapon sale and destruction. France was the second greatest supplier to Iraq and tended to supply higher-technology equipment than the Soviets. This does not mean that many other nations did not either provide materials or encourage client states to do so, or that there was not a brisk business by private arms traders.

The Reagan and Bush Administrations sold over $200 million in weaponry to Iraq with billions of dollars in loans, including The Iraq-Gate Scandal which an Atlanta branch of Italy’s largest bank, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, relying largely on U.S. taxpayer-guaranteed loans, funneled $5 billion to Iraq from 1985 to 1989. Not only did Reagan’s administration turn a blind-eye to Saddam’s regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Iraq’s Kurdish minority, but the US helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. With more than 100,000 Iranian victims of chemical weapons during the eight-year war, Iran is one of the countries most severely affected by Weapons of Mass Destruction, yet it’s being accused of producing such weapons by those who actually made them. At the time, the UN Security Council issued statements that “chemical weapons had been used in the war” and again, the United States and Great Britain remained shamefully silent.

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Iran also obtained weapons and parts for its monarchy-era U.S. weapons through underground arms dealings from officials in the Reagan Administration. It was hoped that Iran would persuade several radical groups to release Western hostages, though this did not result; proceeds from the sales were diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras in what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

At the end of the war in 1988, the USS Vincennes, an American gunship, shot down an Iranian airliner flying from Shiraz to Dubai claiming that they “mistook” the giant Jumbo-Jet for an F-14 Tomcat Jet-fighter. Tragically all 290 innocent civilian passengers, including 66 children perished over the Persian Gulf. At the time of the attack, The USS Vincennes was indeed inside Iranian territorial waters, and the Iranian airliner was within Iranian airspace.

Was the crew court-martialed? No. They got decorated. After completing their tour, the Vincennes crew was awarded Combat Action Ribbons for having actively participated in ground or surface combat and the captain William C. Rogers received the Legion of Merit which is a medal that is awarded for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.” Finally In 1996 the United States agreed to pay $61.8 million in compensation for the Iranians killed, however, the United States did not admit responsibility or apologize for the killings.

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After 8 years, Iran and Iraq finally signed the UN Security Council Resolution 598, and on August 20, 1988, peace was restored. The war between Iran and Iraq left Iran with over 700,000 deaths, more than $500 billion in economic loss and thousands of families mourning, including mine. I grew up in that war.


The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 3/17/2010 12:11 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
First I would like to thank Stephanie Schell for her generous donation. I wish her the best of luck and success in all her endeavors.

Although I have been practically homeless for over 8 months, California sure feels like home, and it’s nice to be back. My five week excursion to Iran was bittersweet as I got to see and leave my grandparents for what I know for sure was the last time. Iran was just Iran with everything the same as I left it 10 years ago. The people were the same, the culture was untouched and from what I could tell, the only real difference was the mushroom-like apartments which were built on every corner.

I visited a few orphanages in Shiraz and got to see aspects of the “traditional” poverty in Iran which screams for education. A notable orphanage was the Narjes Home which focuses primarily on underprivileged children with mental and physical disabilities. This facility is an award winning non-profit, non-governmental rehabilitation and care center located in Shiraz, Iran which is home to many children. I was greeted by a blind kid named Zahra at the entrance who almost didn’t let me go until the end of my visit. I spoke to the management team and had a brief meeting with some of their directors to find out their problems and to see if we can do anything food wise for the patients.

Iranian people are semi-religious (they are just as religious as if a cow that was born in a tree is a bird, I wouldn’t call them fanatics) and because of their beliefs, they usually provide food for these kinds of places so generally the orphanages have no shortage of food. In fact the kids at Narjes were very well fed and I envied the fresh squeezed juices they were having after their lunch. What they needed most was diapers and cleaning supplies which are out of our organization’s focus, but I managed to round up some locals, family and friends to attend to their needs for the upcoming New Year (Persian New Year starts on 21st of March, the first day of spring). Overall this place is a very well-run institution which actually spends the money it raises on its patients rather than showing them off as poor to make more money. We cannot fundraise for them, and we will not as our mission is something else, but if anyone is interested in sparing a few dollars for these children, you can help out by visiting their website. I personally vouch for their honesty as I reviewed their financial statements, organizational documents and service records and found them to be exemplary.

Iran with all its peculiarities is still a notable place to visit. The people were hospitable, food was great and the traffic as deadly as it comes. For every car there were two motorcycles on the road and at times, the whole country seemed to run on two wheels. In fact, if you ever get stuck in traffic, all you have to do is to jump on back of any bike and it automatically becomes a two-wheeled taxi. The rest is like being in a 3D movie theater as every object comes to millimeters from your eyes before miraculously disappearing. Motorcycle taxis are plenty in big cities of Iran and you can expect your rider to have no helmet, wearing flip flops and riding like he’s Ted Kennedy and the liquor store is closing in 5 minutes.

I have to get new tires and do some adjustments on the bike and I’ll be on the road heading for Arizona for our World Hunger exhibitions and lectures. The weather is nice, the bike is running like a champ and the roads open. Till next time…

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The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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Stroller
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   Posted 3/26/2010 1:06 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Man oh man Chris I envy you and your adventure. When I was younger and still single I went all over the place on an old '74 Honda CB 750. I often ventured with Harley riders and even though I was chastised for my Jap bike, guess whose bioke didn't need to have 6 hours of work after a day of miles, with stops in between of course.

The worst break down I ever suffered was when the chain gave out on an interstate turn pike going through New Jersey. That was scarry as hell and man I am glad I had on the dirt biker high rise boots with shin plates.

When you get into Mexico make sure you have cash in hand to pay the fines for running the stop signs that used to be there.

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 4/11/2010 1:59 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Stroller,

Thanks for your comment buddy. Honda 750 fours are my favorite 70's motorcycles. they were amazing bikes and if the GS ever breaks down, i'll get a 750 four. I'm saving all of my change for Mexico. smilewinkgrin


The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 4/11/2010 2:00 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Apr, 10th. On the road again

The time I have been waiting for so anxiously has finally come. The GS850 was a fine bike to begin with, but now it’s even better. The second leg of the expedition has started and in order to maximize the storage capacity for the longer push, the bike had to go through some more modifications along with the regular maintenance. Finally, it’s in tip-top shape.

First thing was to resolve the fork seal problem by installing bright yellow dirt bike fork boots to prevent dirt and bugs from ruining the fork tubes and seals. It kind of looks funny (Cynthia calls them Big Bird Legs), but I’m convinced that they will make the seals last much longer.

After exhaustive research for the best navigation system, besides stopping and asking Seven Eleven clerks en route, we finally decided on the Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS with 4.3” display. This unit is a discontinued model, but it is powerful and robust. The routing engine is excellent and since we have no use for Bluetooth, MP3 player, or traffic updates, this $100 GPS fits the bill perfectly. I had to come up with my own ingenious hillbilly-design mounting system, but it works like a charm.

In order to make more room in the aluminum panniers, I got rid of the big water bottle and instead, installed two smaller external bicycle-style water bottles on the outside of the boxes. I mounted another bottle cage on the back for the fuel bottle so it now sits outside instead of taking up room inside the pannier.

The pannier rack had to be redesigned to accommodate more rearward mounting of the panniers, so a completely new rack was built from scratch to move the boxes back 11 inches. The rear turn signals had to be relocated, and they are pointing downward nesting between the boxes now. The rear footpegs were also relocated by drilling two holes in the aluminum receiver so the rack could be mounted using the stock rear footpeg mounting holes.

I ordered the Kenda 761 tires and after a long mounting battle, they are on and looking good. The complete test report will follow on how they perform, but my initial impression is that they seem to be well made, have sticky rubber compound, and I like the tread pattern.

There were two pieces of equipment which failed during the first leg of the expedition. One was the trusty Optimus Nova multi-fuel stove and the other the Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp. I have used Optimus stoves on the highest mountains and harshest terrains and have yet to have a problem with any of them, but this particular one baffled me. It kept leaking and regardless of what I did to fix it, it refused to get better. Optimus kindly and promptly replaced the stove after only one email, and they even sent a newer model right to my door. Princeton Tec also replaced the faulty headlamp for a new unit for no charge. I’m sure these were just couple of bad apples in a bunch, and both companies stood by their products. I will continue to use their gear and will attest to their quality and customer service.

Stay tuned for the reports as they will come more regularly from now on.

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The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 4/27/2010 3:44 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
APRIL, 26TH. WE DID IT!!!

I left Bakersfield for Monterey, CA on a beautiful sunny day. I was going up to Monterey to meet up with Andy Pogany, our CFO, to do some work on the books and get the bike tested in the process. I figured that since he has a garage, I might as well take the new Kenda tires with me and install them there. The ride was a great one. The bike handled very well fully loaded, and even with two odd shape tires strapped to the back, and the mighty winds of Kern County, I kept a steady 80mph pace easily. For those of you who have been following this blog religiously, you might remember that I first met Andy on my way down from Alaska. He is a fellow GSer (www.gsresources.com, a motorcycle forum focused on older Suzuki GS line) who invited me to stay at his house for a day or two. The first time I ended up staying for 4 days and this time I doubled that! Andy and Jollene are gracious hosts. Andy’s house is right on top of a giant hill with a view of the Pacific Ocean, and his property is as close as to any wilderness you can find in California. It’s got raccoons, deer, turkey, wild boars, hawks, frogs… you name it, it’s there.

For some odd reason, Andy and I get along like we’ve known each other for years, and he is one hell of a cool guy. With a BS in finance and MBA, it really was a no-brainer to elect him as our CFO/Treasurer on the Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp. board. This non-profit bookkeeping business is more than I can take, and I’m glad that Andy is pretty good at this stuff and volunteering to do it. Cynthia joined me in Monterey the next day and we pretty much got the whole corporation beast under control. We held another board meeting with all the directors and unanimously elected Jared Williams (another fellow GSer, I know! The list is growing.) as the 6th director and Public Relation Officer. Welcome aboard Jared. You will be hearing more from him and his upcoming hunger walk in Boston soon.

But the biggest news of all is that WE DID IT!!!! 4 months and 20 days of hard work finally paid off. Our application for tax-exemption got approved by the IRS, and Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp. is officially a non-profit public benefit 501(c)(3) corporation, and that means that from now on, all contributions and donations are tax deductable. You don’t believe me? Try the donate button and see for yourself. No seriously do it! I dare you!

When I received the news, I was in shock for longest time. It feels good to see what I have started is becoming what I didn’t even imagine. I started this ride to make a difference and see the world in process, but I met so many people sharing the same passion and enthusiasm that I could not resist the temptation of jumping higher. We are divided as species, but we can unite on what we can believe in and make a bigger difference together. A 1982 Suzuki motorcycle became something bigger than life for me. Now I can say that I’m content with what I have done, and I see a very bright future for this budding organization.

Many thanks to beautiful Cynthia Quispe for her hard work on writing/editing and proof-reading the countless words I scribbled on the corporation documents. I couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks to Andy Pogany for crunching down all those alien numbers, thanks to Kyle Ford for looking over the steps like a hawk and pointing out legal misunderstandings. Thanks to Joe Deluca for running around and getting the signatures, thanks to Jared Williams for his share of knowledge and his great support, and many thanks to Don and Pam Chriske for scanning and sending all the correspondent letters, and thanks to myself for not killing myself in the process. Thanks to all of those who made this journey possible, from individuals to big corporations, all who provided road-side assistance, occasional beer and burger sponsors, thank you to all of you, I couldn’t have done it any other or better way.

Cheers,

Chris Sorbi

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jon
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   Posted 4/27/2010 3:37 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
congrats!
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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 5/12/2010 12:51 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
We took a successful test drive in town and on freeway to see how the bike handled with the two of us and all of our gear loaded up on it, and discovered that we would have to continue to pare down our meager belongings to reduce the weight as the bike was quite unwieldy to maneuver. We also needed more air in the tires as we were sitting pretty low. At one point, with a little too much throttle after stopping at a light, we almost popped a wheelie! So we made the final kinks and tweaks to setting up the bike fully loaded for two.

We only have 2 pairs of pants each and aside from our riding shoes, 1 pair of flip-flops each. This is not a fashion tour to say the least! And in practicing the art of minimalization, we follow the adages that “what’s mine is yours,” as well as “sharing is caring” as we not only share deodorant and toothpaste but toothbrush as well. For those interested, the following is what made our short list of actual belongings that we could fit on the bike.

2 sleeping bags and 2 sleeping pads
1 four-season mountaineering tent and tarp
2 seven pound bags of clothing for both of us
2 pairs of riding gloves, 2 helmets, 2 pairs of cold weather gloves, 2 riding gear sets (jackets/pants), sunglasses and riding glasses
1 skillet, 2 camping pots, 1 hatchet, 1 multi-fuel stove, 2 plates, 1 cup, 2 spoons & forks, P31 can opener, fire flint, washing sponge, Zip-lock bags, lighters
1 box mixed spices, 1 small bottle olive oil
Video camera, photo camera, batteries, 10 in Netbook, chargers, 2 cell phones
2 boxes of tools, 2 microfiber towels, 1 can of Pledge, fishing pole and reel, assorted fishing tackles, can of Neverdull, oil filter, flat iron
Medicine and first aid kit, 1 toiletry bag, 1 very small camp towel
1 book each, 1 journal each, 2 headlamps, 1 small flashlight, sunscreen, bug spray, and a **** shovel, toilet paper, 2 pens, maps, compass, GPS

[CENTER]See the video here
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We made our maiden voyage today under a sunny sky and warm breeze. The road from Bakersfield to Barstow was windy as usual and trying to get the beast under control in the wind made for a good challenge. Cynthia is a great passenger, and we sync perfectly on the bike. We left a little late in the afternoon and by the time we got to Barstow, the sun was already setting. We were both exhausted fighting the wind so called it good for the day and settled down. The closest store was the 99 cent store and luckily the grocery section was quite accommodating. Writing some emails and dosing off to a movie capped off the night. Next stop: Arizona.


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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 5/12/2010 11:00 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Cynthia was quiet and all I could hear was the spinning of the tire. I turned my head to look at her, but a cloud of dust was all I could see. The rear wheel finally stopped spinning and I felt the bike disappearing underground. We were stuck in the deep soft sands of the Colorado River bed. It was already dusk and not a soul around.

That morning we had departed Barstow headed for the Grand Canyon, but the wind didn’t ease up. And neither did the temperature which kept sky rocketing to 98 degrees by only midday. I grew up in desert and seeing triple digit temperatures is not alien to me, but wearing two pairs of pants, a black riding jacket and a giant helmet is not exactly hot weather attire. Sweat kept coming down my forehead into my eyes, and I could taste the salt every time I licked my lips. We stopped in a shade to get out of the heat for even a second, and Cynthia almost passed out from exhaustion.

We had over 7 hours of riding to the Grand Canyon, and we had to make a stop in Phoenix to see my friend, Laura Blackwood, and pick up the new windshield and our bank cards. We also had to be at Albuquerque, NM on the 10th so abandoned the thought of visiting the Grand Canyon for making better time and took the opposite rode for Lake Havasu City in Southern Arizona. We arrived in Lake Havasu City around 5pm and stopped to get some water. Lake Havasu City is home to the famous original London Bridge which was relocated from England to the United States in 1964. We did our grocery shopping and headed south again with hope of finding a camp spot before dark. Highway 95 follows the Colorado River south for the most part, and both side of the highway is desert with cactuses and the occasional hill.

We found a nice campground on the river close to the Parker Dam but at $26 a night, my immediate reaction was to turn around and look for a free site on the opposite side of the highway which was all BLM lands. We took the first passable dirt road that we could find off the highway. The road started with hard packed dirt, turned into loose gravel which grew larger, and then turned into shale. At that point Cynthia wanted to get off the bike as we were fishtailing all over the place. In the distance I saw a scraggly tree, more like a large shrub which I hope would provide a smidgen of shade, and a relatively flat spot so I stood on the pegs to ride the bike down to the good spot. I was all happy until I tried to put the bike on the kickstand and get off. My feet started sinking, and I knew then and there we were in deep ****.

With a block of wood under the stand, I got off the bike and started unloading our gear with the hope of making the bike a little lighter, and I aired down the tires a few pound for better floatation. All I had to do was to cover 100 yards of a loop to get back up to the solid ground, but the ground turned into powder that swallowed everything. With all my might I completed the loop almost home free, but the last section was the worst, and the bike didn’t move an inch forward but kept on sinking down.

We were almost a mile from the highway and no one in sight. The bike went so far down that the rear wheel stopped spinning, and the exhausts were getting buried in the sand. The good thing was that the bike stood upright without needing the kickstand so I could get off of it. Cynthia suggested that we should dig the bike out of the sand. I looked at her like she was crazy and told her so. It seemed like the sand went all the way to China. My master plan was to get AAA to come and pull us out, but that all ended when they informed us they are not responsible for anything more than 100 feet off the closest paved road. My next plan was to go back to the main road in the morning and find someone with a truck to pull us out. Cynthia kept insisting that we try to dig it out. I told her that if you want to dig it out go right ahead, and I got on the phone to talk to commiserate my woes to my friend Andy.

click here to see the video: www.motorcyclememoir.com

When I was done with my phone call, I noticed that Cynthia was on the ground under the bike with a flat rock digging out sand. She was covered in sand and dust, but to my astonishment she dug the whole tire out and kept on placing small rocks under the tire to give it some traction. Finally I agreed to give it a shot and after spinning the rear tire on and off and digging it out a few more times, we managed to get the bike onto semi-solid ground. Cynthia got a Girl Scout badge and was honored a medal for saving our butts. I made up for the efforts for setting up the camp with the most comfortable sleeping pad (check out the picture). It looked hillbilly but hell it was comfortable. It’s hot out here; by 7 a.m. we were baked out of the tent. We need to get out of Arizona soon. Stay tuned.

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 5/14/2010 2:30 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Parker Dam to Phoenix, AZ is about 170 miles, but we took the back roads and that made it an 8 hour ride. I’m convinced that Arizona has the best highways on the planet. The asphalt is flawless, and the scenery is spectacular. That’s why a lot of people migrate south from the northern states during the winter months to bask in the sun and enjoy this beautiful state. The open roads and sunny skies of late were calling not only us, but many other motorcyclists to the road as I have never seen so many motorcyclists on as in I did in Arizona. There were motorcycle gangs and solo riders everywhere we looked. As long as you stay in the shade, the temperatures are actually not too bad but. No wonder you don’t even see bugs out in the heat of the day.

On our way to Phoenix we stopped at a cool little Western town called Wickenburg with hitching posts and statues of people in old-fashioned attire. The town almost looked deserted but it was clean and we found a great shady spot by some fenced off train cars next to the Chamber of Commerce. We were really dehydrated and some lady kindly gave us a cold bottle of water and filled up the rest of our bottles. A friendly local guy named Scott, who was a rider as well, came over to see the bike, and since my trusty Garmin GPS had just stopped working for some odd reason, he gave us some good directions to avoid the Phoenix rush-hour traffic.

We made it to Phoenix rather late at night with no place to stay. Cynthia convinced me that we should try to send out a last-minute request on couchsurfing.com to see if anyone would put us before we tried to find a cheap hotel. We’re on a rather strict budget and try to use hotels only as a last resort. Around 9:15 p.m. we got a call from Ryan who welcomed us to his home in a beautiful Mesa suburb. We were his first couch surfers ever, and Ryan turned out to be a first-class host. His home was immaculate and comfortable. Ryan helped us do our laundry and feel human again after riding in the desert for the past few days with no shower. After sleeping in, we woke up delighted to be on the receiving end of Ryan’s delicious cooking and enjoyed the gourmet breakfast that he had waiting for us before we went on our way. Thank you, Ryan, for opening up your home to us at the last minute.

We found shade and a place to work on the bike at the local Wal-Mart service bay where the employees helped us a lot with providing degreaser, rags, and washing container for me to clean the dusty clogged air filter that was making the bike choke and replace the windshield. My friend, Laura Blackwood, met up with us with a refreshing frappuccino in hand to cool us off and brought us our mail and the new windshield from National Cycle which had been shipped to her for us to pick up. National Cycle generously replaced the cracked windshield at no charge. National Cycle is one of the leaders in the motorcycle windshield market, and they make quality shields for a broad range of motorcycles. I’ve been very happy with their products and will continue to use them. Thanks to Steve at National Cycle for assisting me with taking care of this problem.

Laura is multi-faceted woman with many interests and talents. She has worked in radio and is a great story-teller thanks to her background in radio and education in English. After chatting for a while and reviewing maps with Laura, we said our good-byes and left Mesa for Northern Arizona’s high country. A big thank-you to Laura for her assistance in helping us out with bringing our mail and for the frappuccino. We gradually climbed higher into cooler climes and the cactus-covered land gradually gave way to full-fledged pine forests with rivers and creeks. We stopped in Payson, AZ to pick up some groceries and pushed on to find a place to camp in the woods with nightfall rapidly falling. We found a very nice campsite by the river amidst a stand of tall trees. Cynthia is petrified of the dark and was constantly shining her little bitty headlamp light in every direction for the boogeyman that is supposedly out there. I enjoyed scaring her to death by throwing rocks into the dark and pretending to hear something outside of the tent every once in a while. I hope she gets over her fear sometime soon as we will be camping in much more scary places than peaceful Payson, AZ. Stay tuned.

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 5/15/2010 1:00 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hi fellow riders! Anyone in Albuquerque? Meet up with us at the Main Library in Albuquerque at 501 Copper NW today. We have a display set up outside with the motorcycle and will be doing an educational lecture and slideshow from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Would love to see you there!


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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 5/20/2010 7:22 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
[CENTER]May, 16th. Albuquerque, NM[/CENTER]

We would like to thank Sarah Jennings and Cheryl Gibson as well as our anonymous donors for their generous donations.

The cool air by the river in the Payson pine forest campsite tempted us to linger a little longer as it was a welcome relief from the heat from earlier in the week. Reluctantly we packed up camp and loaded the bike to get on the road again. The process takes at least a good 30-45 minutes. We started back on the 277 to Albuquerque, enjoying the dramatic and changing scenery from pine trees to cactuses to beautiful red rock cliffs. The open road was especially windy. Highway 40 was even shut down shortly after we passed through it due to high winds. The road seemed never-ending and by nightfall, we still hadn’t reached Albuquerque but wanted to push on to our couchsurfing hosts, Janice and Dan Kostelnick.

We arrived late with 4 layers of shirts due to the wind-chill and were grateful to be met by Janice’s warm and welcoming hospitality. She kept a delicious dinner waiting for us and made us feel right at home. Janice is an exuberant, straight-shooting, creative soul who loves art. She was working on an amazing mosaic project on the wall around her house. Her husband Dan is an engineer and has a calm steady demeanor and sarcastic wit. The two make a good balance for each other. Dan had an awesome garage with every tool imaginable and helped me do some maintenance on the bike.

We are grateful to Yvonne Scott, another fellow couchsurfer, for writing about our World Hunger Exhibition on her blog. Yvonne lives and works in Albuquerque, NM, enjoying her granddaughters, mountains and year around motorcycle roadways. She is a landscape consultant and freelance writer on everything from Mongolian embroidery to her other passion: solo travel on the cheap.

Trying new things comes part and parcel with traveling around the world. In all my 28 years I’ve never even heard of a Flowbee, much less had my head shorn with one by an Italian ex-hippie. But thanks to our next hosts, Katherine and Bob Riolo, I can now cross that off my list! They were contemplating moving to work with the needy in another country after having gone to Nicaragua for one month. Inspired by the movie, The Bucket List, Katherine wrote her own list and was actually going to shave her hair for cancer at an event for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

During our stay in Albuquerque we had two slideshow presentations and lectures scheduled at the Albuquerque Main Library as part of our World Hunger Exhibition. We also had a display outside the library to spread the word about the expedition and fundraise and were able to meet Harry, a physician, who had gone to hear the presentation before ours by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). We are grateful to Joani Murphy, the library manager, for her assistance in coordinating our events at the library.

At the end of our stay, we met Steve, a kind-hearted and free-spirited guy and got to stay in his very cool bus/RV. Steve is a talented wood-working artist and photographer who travels around the world selling his art and enjoying other cultures. He rides a BMW 1200RS that smoked our ride by miles when we went out cruising together.

All told Albuquerque was very kind to us and we enjoyed our time there and the people we met. The flavors of the Southwest have been delightful thus far and we look forward to more.

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 5/30/2010 11:46 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
May, 21st. Santa Fe Inspiration!

The ride to Santa Fe along the Scenic Byway 14 unfolded like a picture-postcard. You couldn’t have ordered a more beautiful day. The layers of endless white clouds billowed around us in every direction. We stopped in the artsy little town of Madrid, which was once a historic mining town and ghost town, for a pit stop, and then continued on until reaching, America’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, or “the City Different,” as it more aptly nicknamed, is loaded with flavor with charming and interesting architecture and art engaging your senses everywhere you look. The city is home to a host of art galleries and museums for art lovers, including the famed Georgia O’Keefe Museum. We landed at the historic Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza which has retained some of the original adobe walls of the 350-year old home of Santa Fe’s “first family,” the Ortiz family. Many thanks to Suzanne Lehman at the Hilton Santa Fe for sponsoring our first night in the beautiful hotel.

We are still on our fundraising portion of our expedition before turning south for Argentina. It’s hard to put the word fun in fundraising as taking off helmets and riding gear every five minutes to approach another business is not a pleasant task, but the creative vibe of Santa Fe must have rubbed off on Chris while we were there as he had a eureka moment of EPIC magnitude which has been taking up a lot of time in planning. The plan is to set up a charity ride. But not just ONE charity ride-try 50 simultaneous rides in all 50 states!!! This unprecedented event will take place in late August (stay tuned for the exact date and locations as we sort through this). This ride is a nationally and internationally sponsored event, with lots of cool raffle items and entertainment. We are looking for volunteer ride leaders in every state so if you are interested, please send us an email and we’ll put you on the list.

We would also like to thank Jean Salisbury at Lamplighter Inn and Brian Womach at Holiday Inn of Santa Fe for sponsoring the rest of our accommodations while networking and getting the charity ride off the ground. We enjoyed their clean and comfortable rooms and their top-notch hospitality. We both agreed: Santa Fe, NM is a really cool place. We loved it there and bet you will too.

Stay tuned: a motorcycle safety awareness feature and adventures on the road to Denver coming up!

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GAJ
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   Posted 5/31/2010 9:58 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Great pictures!

Keep 'em coming!
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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 6/1/2010 7:48 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
May, 24th. Las Vegas, Baby!

As we rode up the 25N, we felt a little bit like we were in the twilight zone, each of us privately musing over our recollection of US geography and wondering how in the world Las Vegas could be on our route. Hadn’t we left that back West, miles ago? But sure enough, sign after sign kept pointing towards Las Vegas. Turns out there is another Las Vegas, in New Mexico, although this one doesn’t come up in the first five pages of a Google search, if you just search for Las Vegas instead of Las Vegas, NM, but it should given its colorful and storied history.

Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed, “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.” Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend, Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, Durango Kid and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler. A number of films were made in this town, and Patrick Swayze, American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter, had a ranch in Las Vegas.

After grabbing some New Mexican grub in Vegas, we headed out into the fierce winds, like 2 bugs on a bull. The wind was blowing around 45-50 mph. and pushing us back and forth all over the highway. Sometime during the ride, the plastic cradle for the GPS which was mounted on the front left side of the bike broke off. Luckily, Chris was able to grab the GPS before it fell and smashed to bits on the highway. We pulled over at a rest stop to get a reprieve from riding in the winds. Chris latched his helmet onto the front left pannier as he had done hundreds of times before, and the rack supporting the pannier sheared completely off and fell to the ground with the pannier.

Thankfully a friendly family traveling in their RV came over to chat and gave us some rope to help strap the box to the rear left pannier. It’s important that the weight on the bike be properly be balanced and distributed so as to ensure the maximum safety while riding. We were already having trouble riding in the wind but after having to re-position the left front pannier to the back, we were wobbling back and forth in the wind.

With miles to go until Denver, Colorado, we were trying to make good time to reach our couch surfing host, Paul Cornelius, but had to ride between 45-65 miles per hour. This slower place made it easier to spot the antelope dotting the plains as we drove by. The sun set gloriously against the mountains, and we still were hours from Denver. We threw on more layers to help beat the wind-chill and pushed on until we arrived exhausted at Paul’s doorstep. Paul opened the door before we even dismounted from the bike and came out to welcome us. Although our stay with him was short, he took the time from his busy schedule to visit with us and share stories about life and travels around the world. He’s traveled all over Central and South America as well as lived in Europe and will be leaving shortly on a back-packing trip to Asia and Africa for the next 2 years. The next morning we lucked out and found the coolest guy on the planet with more tools that I could care for. We’ll be fixing the bike here in Denver and get on the road. Stay tuned!

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 6/16/2010 1:36 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Rocky Mountain High

Early dawn found us packing the bike grateful for a few hours of shut-eye out of the wind. We said good-bye to Paul as he had to head to work and found a Wal-Mart to buy the replacement rack for the bike. Then we camped out at the Golden Arches as per usual, when we need Wi-Fi, to try to find some place to work on the bike. I posted an SOS on the GS Resources forum to see if anyone from the Denver area could help us out. After a few hours we were relieved to get a call from fellow GSer, Tom Kent, who invited us to his home in Littleton, CO. He met us with lemonade and invited us to his granddaughter, Amberlynn’s birthday party down the street where we met the rest of Tom’s family.

We love meeting new people on our trip. So many people have gone out of their way to help us or to make us feel welcome, and Tom’s family was no exception. Tom and his lovely wife, J’Amy, graciously welcomed us into their home, along with their son, Thomas, and cat, Tweak. They made us feel like part of the family while we were there. We were even able to attend Thomas’s graduation. Congratulations Thomas!

Tom is an airline pilot with a love of restoring old bikes. He has a fully-stocked garage and was even in the process of adding a shop to work on his projects. Soon we were swapping stories and chatting like old buddies. Two heads are often better than one, and as we parleyed ideas for the bike, the original project of fixing the rack for the pannier evolved into a multi-faceted task. A three hour job turned into a 4 days of fabrication.

The main problem with the hillbilly racks was that they were aluminum and were not designed to hold anything more than 10 pounds. They broke from the weld joint every time in the same spot leaving the whole rack useless. The cure to that came from a metal scrap yard where we bought aluminum stocks and sheets to make our braces. Two semi V shape brackets on sides, and two on the top did the job but the aluminum tube of the rack was so thin that you could barely put any force on the bolts. We cut aluminum tubes to go over the bolts and keep the main tube from crushing under the force. To make it even stronger, we fashioned four steel tube braces to go from the engine mounts to the boxes to keep the boxes from swinging left and right. To cap it off, we changed the oil and added two 55W Halogen fog lights to the front to fix the lighting problem.

I lived so long with the pain of the old and bent-up side-stand that I almost forgot what a good side stand would be like. Not any more. Tom is the master of fabrication, and all it took was two aluminum hockey pucks and two machine screws to put an end to that old pain. He even welded the backside of the stand to make it sturdier and now I have a fully functioning side stand. Tom promised me to burn that old block of 2x4 I hauled around for under the stand along with his Harbor Freight Sawzall!

We bid farewell to Denver in the late afternoon with plans to head to Laramie to stay with some couchsurfing hosts there. Taking a scenic route through the Colorado giants, we soon encountered breathtaking views and snow along the road. We entered into the Rocky Mountain National Park enjoying peaks at antelope and elk along the way. We had to go slowly in several sections of the road where there was gravel or there were workman taking down trees ravaged by the rampant beetle kill. The light started fading just as to our dismay, we reached a road barricade with no hope of passing through. There wasn’t a soul in site and the official campgrounds we passed on the way had all been closed. We would have to go a long ways back to make it out of the park and into a town, and at this point I was nervous about hitting an animal in the poor visibility. I’ve already had some close calls in the past in my Jeep and wasn’t eager to press my luck, as one wayward deer would likely make road kill out of us on a bike. We tried to call our couchsurfers in Laramie to let them know we can’t make it and soon realized that neither one of us had cell phone reception. We walked around the hillsides trying to get a signal but the cell phone gods were not on our side.

Deciding to forgo dinner as we were too cold and tired to cook, we pitched camp, making sure to hoist our food up a tree a good distance away in case a hungry bear came around. In the morning we met a couple from Germany who was also waiting for the road to open. They said that it was supposed to open that day with a ceremony to start the season. We are heading up north for Montana for a few days. It’s raining and snowing hard in Teton and Yellowstone so we have to make our call…

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 6/20/2010 12:28 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
[CENTER]First I would like to thank Frank Perreault of the GS Resources for his great support and generous donation. [/CENTER]

As we stated earlier, we are still on the fundraising tour in the U.S. and also putting into place details for the charity rides. It helps to have a home base to work on the details and also looking to avoid tornados and flooding due south and east, we decide to keep riding north to my hometown of Helena, MT.

We continued on into Wyoming. The winds were with us again, a seemingly ever-present part of our trip by now. But each time they seemed to blow more viciously. When we would stop for breaks, it was difficult to walk in the wind. Sometimes Cynthia takes pictures as we whiz by some pretty scene on the bike, but the rabid winds hamper those photo-opt moments greatly, so mostly she just hangs on tight to my back. We have a very limited (close to non-existent) budget for hotel stays and try to camp, couchsurf, or get sponsored stays when we can. But with nightfall upon us, feeling exhausted and windblown, Cynthia put us up in a hotel with a free breakfast. After a good night’s rest and a hot breakfast in our bellies we headed for Teton and Yellowstone National Park.

The road through the park is kind of a shortcut but living in Montana has taught me a thing or two in the past; never trust the weatherman, and be ready for snow even in July! I was hesitant to take that route, but since Cynthia has never been to that part of the country and was really looking forward to it, I went for it anyway. After all it was sunny, and I didn’t want to chicken out prematurely.

The weather started out to be promising, but then all bet’s were off and we had the most intense, crazy riding day I’ve ever experienced: driving rain, sleet, snow, hail, poor visibility, freezing our assess off, you name it. The irony is that I was hoping to find “good” weather by heading north, and on this day, we happened to be riding in the coldest spot in the U.S. Unfortunately, due to the weather, all we could manage was a brief drive-by tour of Yellowstone, but Cynthia was elated nonetheless at each new mountain peak and animal we encountered. We actually were the only crazy motorcyclists on the road until we reached Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

At times we rode on with maybe 25 feet of visibility in a complete whiteout. My face was frozen, thanks to my open face helmet. Snow kept plastering my goggles and every time I cleaned them with my wet gloves, it made it worse. I had to take off my goggles to actually see where I was going, and our speed dropped down to 20 mph. Every time we stopped Cynthia was more amazed at the scenery, and I was more apprehensive of the situation. As a matter of fact, it was so cold that I had icicles hanging from my knees, and my cheeks were almost frostbitten despite of my ski mask.

It was pitch black and pouring icy cold rain by the time we made it out of Yellowstone. At a gas station in West Yellowstone, we were told that it would take at least another 2 hours to reach our next couchsurfing destination in Bozeman by way of Hyalite Canyon, and that it would surely be snowing. We sought shelter and Wi-Fi at a McDonalds but couldn’t get a connection. We finally started calling hotels from my GPS and were soon finding out that almost every place in town was sold out! Several places even ran out of food, including McDonalds! We lucked out in getting a last available room at one joint which turned out to be reminiscent of a hotel that would be used in a thriller or horror movie, but at least it was a place to warm up.
The next day we suited up and started off in the rain anxious to get to Helena, MT. As the miles rolled by the sky cleared up, and we drank in the spacious skies of the state that is aptly named the Big Sky Country. I never imagined that I would be coming full-circle in such a short time since staring my trip, but life has a way of bringing the unexpected, and sometimes it works out better than any plan you could make! Stay tuned!

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The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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Vad S.
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   Posted 6/23/2010 12:01 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hi,
You have been on a great motorcycle ride AROUND THE WORLD

How do you plan the ride?
Well, I ask for a reason, as we on www.Tourstart.org have developed some great tools, we will like you to try. The tools makes it easy to create tours and then direct transfer them to the GPS. Garmin has a software great tool which we have used, so it is possible to connect the Garmin GPS direct to the PC via the USB. Then you do your planning on Tourstart, and then transfer it direct into the Garmin GPS.
In the same way you can upload your tour directly to the web site, and then other fellow bikers can enjoy the ride.
At the same token, you can use Tourstart to plan your next tour.

Have a safe ride!

Post Edited (Vad) : 6/23/2010 7:17:45 AM GMT

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 7/14/2010 4:47 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
July, 13th. Short way round

What I heard the most in past few weeks was the question: “Are you back already?!!!”

I never thought that I would see Montana again, at least not for a long, long time, but here we are, back to where I started a year ago. Since I started this journey on my motorcycle, I have covered Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alaska, British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. It seems like forever ago but such a short distance, more like a shakedown ride to me.

I learned a lot about riding and more importantly living on the road. I met some amazing people, saw some beautiful places, and built a sophisticated touring machine out of a 1982 Suzuki. But my true discovery came in the form of a dawning comprehension of the struggles that go on every day on every corner of this planet: in particular, the travesty of extreme poverty and malnutrition.

Well actually that wasn’t it. I discovered that I’m not the only one, and there are hundreds if not thousands who share the passion to help bring relief to those suffering from hunger. This journey evolved beyond the scope of my one-man band, and eventually I founded and incorporated the Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp., a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization to bring together those with a similar passion and desire to give a helping hand to ordinary people during times of extraordinary tribulation.
This is not an impressive resume for a so-called adventurer. From the minute I got back to Montana, I had the itch to get back on the bike again and head out for the unknown. But you know how it goes, when the bike is ready, I’m not, and when I’m ready the bike is not. Since I had a warm dry garage, I figured to fix everything I could possibly fix and with that in mind, I tore up the bike to pieces again.

I had some problem with the steering head bearings (which turned out to be far more gone that I thought), the rear brake needed new pads, the headlight wiring had to be redone to fix the voltage drop, wire the new fog lights, add some reflectors to the boxes for more visibility, add more lights to the back to mark the width of the bike, hardwire my GPS, Install the new camera mount, sand and clear-coat the side covers (cosmetic only but they had been bothering me for a long time), fix the oil leak form the cam-chain tensioner, head gasket and oil pressure switch, Install an alarm system, change the gearbox and drive shaft oil and grease everything.

The bearing races were in awful shape; no wonder this bike wobbled a lot in low speed. I could run my fingernail across it and dig in deep in the grooves made by the roller bearings. The rear brake pads were almost to the metal, and they were so far down that I could barely see any brake fluid in the reservoir. After adding 5 relays, the electrical system is now in tiptop shape and the headlight is as bright as it can be. I also added a security system with a screaming siren to ward off bored and crazy kids in third world countries; it also gives me a peace of mind while sleeping as I know it will go off the second a bird lands on it.

By the time I was done with all these chores, the bike looked and felt so good that I didn’t want to ride it anymore! In the meantime, Cynthia went back to California to give her two week notice and quit her job for the long run. She has come a long way. To be honest I didn’t think that she would make it more than 3 days, but she braved the road for 3000 miles and 40 days and she was eager for more. She quit her job of seven years as a social worker to join a crazy expedition on a motorcycle around the world. I did the same thing, but this was my dream. She wasn’t a rider, nor had she ever camped out more than a couple of nights at a time in her whole life without being close to her familiar surroundings. That’s adventurous in my book.

I picked her up at the airport in Missoula, and we are packing again, this time even smaller. We’ll be on the road before you know it, and this time no return for at least five years…

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The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

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hiyatran
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   Posted 7/19/2010 12:49 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
wow, talking about a hard core biker. I personally can't do what you do. I can't ride my motorcycle for days can get really tiring but hats off to you Chris


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Smitty
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   Posted 7/19/2010 1:07 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Good write-up about a L-O-N-G run with some good photos.  I liked the one of being stuck in the fresh new concrate, but then some tough work on the bikes.
 
Also in my younger years my eyes fell upon your tents, much, much larger then my WWII Surplus two man mountain tent I used when climbing.  Especially the first one with what looked like a mattress under it, & mine was flat on the ground or the glaciers so counted on my rucksack for a head piece to other clothing to ward off the COLD or roungh terrain I was trying to  sleep on.
 
I guess also my attraction of the tents as with a sportshop another chap & I owned in Banff National Park in Alberta Cdn I looked over tents & only brought in basically one or two man tents that could be put into use in a matter of minutes as mountaineers do not have lots of time to errect a tent FOR examble if we were in a hurry the tent gear was pulled over us with the hopes it would not rain during our rest.
 
Mind you this was in the late 40s to early 50s so TIMES HAVE CHANGED.


Remember all the others on the road are crazy & out to kill you.

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