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July 13th, 2010 - 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…

There are 17 Comments

  1. Allie
    July 14, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Such amazing photos, thanks for posting. I really look forward to reading the whole chronicle beginning to end.

  2. Dave DeGreve
    July 14, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Please, I hope no body takes offense to this.

    I’m not trying to start any arguments but I have to ask, “How many mouths could have been fed with the monies being used for this crusade?” When talking about raising awareness, I don’t believe there are too many people around that don’t know about world hunger.

  3. four_shot
    July 14, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Cynthia is braver than I. I couldnt leave my job of 7 years to ride around the world. much respect.

  4. Chris Sorbi
    July 15, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Thanks Allie, good to have you here, I love your videos on you tube btw. If you like, i can enter your email address to the subscribers list and you’ll get the updates right to your email the minute the get published (pm me your email if you like).


    I know what you mean. When i was giving my 2 weeks notice i almost had a heart attack

  5. CaddmannQ
    July 15, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Dave, You’re truly asking the wrong question. The question you need to ask is this:

    If our world’s leaders quit spending trillions of dollars buying arms and fancy palaces so they can strut around and show off for each other, and instead developed the resources of their countries to benefit and educate the population, would we even have world hunger at all?

    I say that we have millions of hungry people because the people who run this world live in great fear. Their parade their armies around with great pomp and bluster, but they live in the constant fear of losing their cushy positions of power and privilege. Everything they do is geared toward preventing that, and toward reinforcing fear of them, among their citizens and among their counterparts throughout the world.

    What Chris has spent is nothing. What we spend each week our soldiers stay in the middle-east would probably feed half the starving people in this world for a year.

    But we are trained not to think that way. We are all busy picking nits while the real plague goes ignored.
    That is the awareness which must be raised.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:21 am

    This needs to be on CNN or something.
    It is certainly more noteworthy than most of what passes for news.

    good luck on your adventure.

  7. SamTHorn
    July 16, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Awesome blog and for a great cause. Thanks for doing what you did. Thanks for posting as well.


  8. Mac
    July 16, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Hi Chris, I am a friend of Cads. I am just getting caught up around here, and in the recent 69 posts I found this thread. I scanned thru most of it fast, and i do not read well, a bit dyslexic .

    I noted Cad telling you about the voltsage drop that can be had at the plastic connector to the alt between the rec/reg (rectifier regulator)

    If that gets to feel hot, or shows signs of hot, then it needs attention and might even need to be cut out, and the wires soldered.

    Another thing I wonder about is if the forks are gouned by a way other than straight thru the bearings, which will ruin bearings in a few heart beats.

    At least the fix is easy, a small ground cable of a 12 ga wire from the head lamp bucket to the main frame will do that.

    I am not gonna go political on you, other than to say good luck. What I know for the fat cats is they never have enough and could care a less about any needs of the truely needy.

    I wish some of that might even be met in the USA. But it seems that will never happen.

  9. CaddmannQ
    July 16, 2010 at 7:19 am


    One well-known source of voltage drop on those bikes is the plastic connector that hooks the alternator output wires to the voltage regulator leads of the wiring harness. Even if these connections are scrupulously clean, they have such a tiny contact area that they cause resistance, and if they ever get corroded that loss becomes massive.

    The typical cure is to cut those connectors out and solder the wires directly together. I guarantee this will improve electrical system performance, (and reliability) almost regardless of what it is now.

  10. Chris Sorbi
    July 17, 2010 at 4:16 am


    Thanks for braving the posts, you have a lot to catch up. HCI is in my top two motorcycle forums there are genuinely caring people on here who are ready to give a helping hand whenever you need it. I know because I had some troubles in LA and I was flattered with phone calls and emails. I’m grateful to Cad for inviting me here and letting me rant and rave.

    Thanks to both of you for the electrical heads up. you are right on. I got rid of all the plastic and bullet connectors altogether while I was wiring the headlight. There has been a short at some point which melted a cluster of wires together under the headlight. I soldered every connection and replaced most of the wires with heavier gauge wires to control the voltage drop. I wired five relays for the horns, headlight, fog lights, the AC inverter and ignition. I have pretty much the same voltage as the battery on all critical points and everything has separate fuses.

    The GS line of Suzuki was notorious for their electrical problems and I can see why. All the wires are way too small in diameter to carry on the load without drop and the old connectors don’t help either. The regulator was too small for this bike and pretty much every GS I know had a problem with cooking the reg/rec eventually. The night before I started the ride mine went out too, and I replaced it with a unit from a Honda Goldwing almost 3 times the size of the original. It has been working great ever since and mounting it on an aluminum box gave it a great heat sink.

  11. Mac
    July 17, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Chris, Take care to not run all that stuff at the same time. I have a 1981 sx850sh Yamii triple. I have no idea what yearyour bike is, but then many and yours and mine are in this many have a well known stator eatting problem. The one Cad mentioned.

    The truth of this problem is the plastic connector on the AC side is too small wire gauges, and a high resistance voltage drop happens there.

    On my 850 I cut the connector out, and had the damndest time soldering these wires back as one each. With the insulation stripped off the copper looking wires each, no flux I used would clean the wire to accept solder at all.

    I was stupified. Something I can’t see is on the wires atleast on my 850. So I began to buy up every flux I could find and NAPA tinning solution worked and Oh boy did it work good too.

    I forget book spec on max amp out put, but if I recall it is around 20 amps max. The battery is 18Ah (amp hour). You probably have similar specs.

    I have been into my system deep, probably a lot deeper than most techs ever would, but by chance.

    I run a full time volt meter on any bikes i have for so long as I have them. The day came when the 850 quit charging, and getting any new parts in a timely fashion wasn’t going to happen.

    I began to sort things out, and came to find the stator was dead shorted. I pulled that off the bike and tested it again and it wasn’t dead shorted.

    I pulled a HUH? Bolted it back on the bike and again it was dead shorted.

    Well I went around a while with this sort of testing, a pain began to grow between my ears.

    I get smarter slow. So it dawned on my primitve mind to run in one bolt to bolt up the stator and test, then another bolt and test and the next BINGO. Of the 4 bolts one somehow created a dead short in OHMS mod of course.

    That same stator and all 4 bolts are still in the bike today and working well, but that one bolt isn’t so snug as the other 3 and is loctited in place.

    Since then I have managed to come by 1 complete spare charging system and a 2nd stator too boot.
    Just a story. I like stories.

    You seem to have your parts set up, other than maybe a real forks to frame ground. Get that done, it won’t take you 15 minutes.

    I didn’t see any goose neck bearings but if they are all sorts of colors of grays, looking chipped with flakes that is arcing damage, where a load is trying to go to ground right thru the races and bearing roller balls.

    Arcing makes a tiny burn, more arcing makes more tiny burns. Each one makes a rough spot, combined with use, this tears up bearings bad.

    If you ever get out to New Hampster, I live near Nawth Cornflake.

    *New Hampshire North Conway*

    My town of Tamworth hardly shows on a map. LOL

    I met up with Cad once too spent nearly 20 days there so he could work on my bike.

    I had a bad time just staying out of his way. I am used to grubby mitts, but I had a problem.
    At the time i was trying to hide my problem, and I guess i kinda did. Cad knew i was injured, but missed knowing how bad I hurt. More or less that is how i wanted it to be.

    As to your project on hunger, I wish I had that kind of faith, but fear i don’t and never will. That would be another story, long and boring proabably. mac

  12. mpanther
    July 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Soon, the road will stretch out before you again.
    It is a wonderful feeling.

    I love how it feels to start a trip on a bike that you know is in tip top condition and ready for anything.
    and I am sure it will feel like a new bike with the replaced steering bearings.
    mine sure did.

    Looking forward to seeing you either on the road or here in Vegas if you make it this way. (both would be better. *grin*)

    As always, best of luck and safe travels.

  13. Hyiatran
    July 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    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

  14. Smitty
    July 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    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.

  15. RedDog
    July 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Good shots and nice write ups, Chris!

    On the “Wall of Fame” here, there’s a picture of me and Momma Hen crossing the Rockies in a blizzard back in 1981. I know how snow feels on a MC in the cool of the mountains. But, it’s a life long memory. Few of the nice and sunny days get there.

  16. skateguy50
    July 28, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Dave, he dedicated a new blog to your question but that thread is pretty long now.

    The short answer comes from an old Chinese saying, “To know and not to act is not to know”

    So while people know about it they do not act, that is what this is all about. Bringing it to our day to day lives and reminding us that we didnt really do anything that special to be where we are other than be lucky enough to be born in a country and situation that gave us a chance to suceed.

    I wonder at times why was I so lucky and them so not? Well perharps its because they cant get help unless others know about them and have the means to act. So I see my luck not as a gift to me but a calling to share it and help those without.

  17. Larue Buchtel
    January 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Just happened upon your article and will review other ones. Seems like real great stuff.

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