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shirazdrum 05-14-2010 11:54 PM

Around the world on an old Suzuki (Pics & Vids)
After dreaming and planning for years, I finally bit the bullet, sold everything I had, said goodbye to those who cared and mounted on my bike and didn't look back. I started in Helena, MT and rode north from there to Canada and reached the Arctic Circle on Sep, 3rd, 09. From Yukon, I hopped in Alaska and road the Cassiar highway in a non-stop rain south with flat tires and oil leak. It rained for 7 days and 7 nights and when it finally stopped, I was actually having fun.

My life has changed ever since I have started and it has been a blast. I founded a non-profit organization called Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp. and met a beautiful Argentine girl named Cynthia in California. She is also coming along so now we are two-up. Right now we are on the US portion of our tour, then we are heading south through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala,.. to Argentina, from Argentina, catching a ship ride to Cape Town, South Africa and so on.
This is a non-profit expedition. We are fundraising for world hunger all along by lectures and slideshows and event. Time to time you'll read a post that has nothing to do with riding but it is what it is; a humanitarian ride to address the number one cause of death in the world: Hunger.

If anyone is interested on updates to be posted here, please make a comment (letís hear from more than two people at least) and I will post the updates with pictures regularly here. Here is the latest blog from our website for a taste: you can read the older stories on our website: Motorcycle Memoir

Chris Sorbi

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 didnít 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 didnít 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.

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. Itís hot out here; by 7 a.m. we were baked out of the tent. We need to get out of Arizona soon. Stay tuned.

mscuddy 05-16-2010 06:59 PM

I just flew in from Arizona, and boy are my arms tired!


But seriously folks, it is hot as hell up there by 10am. The hot season is upon the poor denizens of Arizona.

When you get a big bike like that stick up to the axle in sand, just lay it over, and drag it out, like mud.

Ha, fun story, thanks.

The_AirHawk 05-16-2010 07:16 PM


Originally Posted by mscuddy (Post 241806)
But seriously folks, it is hot as hell up there by 10am. The hot season is upon the poor denizens of Arizona.

Yeah, but it's a DRY heat........

(Oh Come ON! - you guys were waitin' on someone to say it!)

shirazdrum 05-16-2010 11:39 PM

Hi Guys, I was just thinking that it was pretty much dead here, nice to hear from you. It's a cool idea to drop the bike and try to drag it but the problem with that is, that when dropped, sand or no sand, it sits at a 45 degree angle because of all the boxes and is impossible to move without damaging anything. You got one thing right though, it's hot as hell in AZ. I'll keep on updating here. Stay cool. Chris

shirazdrum 05-16-2010 11:41 PM

Parker Dam to Phoenix, AZ is about 170 miles, but we took the back roads and that made it an 8 hour ride. Iím convinced that Arizona has the best highways on the planet. The asphalt is flawless, and the scenery is spectacular. Thatís 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 donít 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 to see if anyone would put us before we tried to find a cheap hotel. Weíre 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 Ryanís 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. Iíve 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 Arizonaís 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.

mscuddy 05-18-2010 07:39 PM

Looks like the trip of a lifetime. You picked the right bike, that's for sure. Those air cooled Suzi's are bullletproof. Nice tent, lots of room...heh heh...

shirazdrum 05-21-2010 12:33 PM

May, 16th. Albuquerque, NM

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 hadnít 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 Janiceís 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 Iíve 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. Baldrickís 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 (Mťdecins Sans FrontiŤres). 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.

jeff10236 05-22-2010 01:27 PM

Sounds like a cool trip. See the country (then the world), meet great people, have fun riding, yet also raise awareness for an important issue. To be able to share it with your girl is a nice bonus. I look forward to reading more about it.

shirazdrum 05-30-2010 12:50 PM

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!

shirazdrum 05-30-2010 12:52 PM


Originally Posted by jeff10236 (Post 242401)
Sounds like a cool trip. See the country (then the world), meet great people, have fun riding, yet also raise awareness for an important issue. To be able to share it with your girl is a nice bonus. I look forward to reading more about it.

Thanks for tuning in, a lot more to come. We are getting snowed on at the moment.

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