The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
Gear Up! is a 2-DVD set, 6 hours! Which bike is right for me? How do I prepare the bike? What stuff do I need - riding gear, clothing, camping gear, first aid kit, tires, maps and GPS? What don't I need? How do I pack it all in? Lots of opinions from over 150 travellers! "This DVD will save you a fortune!"See the trailer here!
So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
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First off, I would like to thank fellow Gsers Rob and Lisa Hayward for their generous donations. The GS resources website has been a great help on mechanical issues and is still holding first place on donations. Thank you for everything guys.
My reunion in Ashland with Gib was bitter sweet. I stayed with him for 3 nights and left for California on Sunday. He gave me my last million-dollar haircut with his Hikari scissors which are unbelievably sharp and expensive. They are handmade by the Samurai people and the smallest scissor is sold for around $600!
He wanted to buy a laptop and I wanted to get a smaller one so we made a deal and I exchanged my 15.4” Dell for a 10.1” HP that he paid for. This machine is very compact and portable but it’s like an “Etch A Sketch” compared to my old one. We flipped a coin for the farewell lunch and after feeding me for the last time, I was on my way to California.
I took Todd’s advice on the California Hwy 96 and what a great route it turned out to be. California has the best roads in the world in my opinion, and 96 was no different. With all its twist and turns, it passes through the Klamath National Forest which is breathtaking. I was hoping to camp somewhere along the way but I kept on pushing toward Eureka. At around 8pm I decided I had enough and wanted to camp but there was no camp spot around and I was approaching more populated areas. In Hoopa I found a campground that was closed but I figured I would poach it anyway.
Hoopa is on an Indian reservation and the whole place looked kind of iffy but it was already dark and I had no choice. Plastic bags and trash all over the place, this campground was a true dump but if that wasn’t enough, two Indian guys in a truck rolled in and stopped where I was going to camp. They shouted something that I didn’t understand and drove off and parked about 100 yards away. They started howling and making war noises (I used to watch a lot of western movies so I know what that sounds like). After a while they got in their truck and started approaching my site still making noises. It was pitch dark and no one else around so I didn’t take their noises as a friendly gesture. I got my hatchet out, opened my Kershaw knife and got the bear spray out of the sheath. I turned on the bike headlight and stood with an axe in one hand and pepper spray in other behind the light, waiting.
The truck stopped right in front of my campsite and the guy in the passenger side started putting on black gloves! At that moment I knew I was in it for more than a friendly talk. I gripped the axe handle harder and stood still, but he never came out of the truck.
The driver stepped on the gas and the truck took off with a screeching noise and they left the area. I really wanted to camp there but I didn’t want to be surprised in the middle of the night with a truck full of angry Indians so I rode my bike like I stole it.
For the first time since the start of this trip, I rode at night and the Hwy 96 became my nemesis. With my crappy headlight I could barely see the turns let alone the flat spots to pitch my tent and the night dragged on. I was getting pretty tired and my eyes were hurting from concentrating on the road and not a single spot to camp.
I got to Eureka at 10:30 and went straight to a Super 8 Motel and checked in for $59. I was mad at myself for getting in a situation like that and risking my life when I could have easily camped out at 6 pm for free in day light. Never again.
The next day the hell broke loose and Northern California experienced its first storm of the year (it was on the front page of the San Francisco news). Rain came down in sheets and oily roads turned into skating rink. I took it easy all the way and stopped to check out the giant Redwoods of Northern forests along the way. Ranging from 500 to 2000 years old, these threes are about a size of a submarine! Standing next to them I felt like little people in Gulliver’s stories.
That night, I stayed with Harrison and Elizabeth, my couch surfing hosts and was out of the rain. I had a great time staying with these two love birds. Both smart and athletic, we talked about climbing, current politics, stupid things and drank some fine scotch out of Harrison’s collection. He gave me a picking tool and a practice lock and lectured me on how it works but as much as I tried, I never even came close to picking it. But I’ll keep trying.
I’m staying here for another night, then meeting Tom in San José for the bike maintenance. Stay tuned…
First off, I would like to thank Chuck Williams and Hari Crowder for their generous donations. The month of October is almost over and the goal has not been reached. If you are enjoying these posts, please take a time to donate a few bucks for the cause.
Under the torrential rain of San Francisco, I walked through downtown wearing my rain suit and 75 liter pack. I could see a stream of water coming down from the top of my hood every time I stopped moving. A black guy approached me and offered me a sandwich, I was dumbfounded. I realized I looked like a homeless person standing under rain shouldering a backpack with no umbrella.
The rain finally stopped and after farewell with Elizabeth and Harrison I left for San Jose. In San Jose, I met Jessica Cover and stayed with her for the next two nights. Jessica was one of the most interesting people I have met on this trip. At age 27; she is an accomplished young lady with a bright future as a chiropractor. Even though she was preparing for her exams, we talked for hours and had a great time.
As I have mentioned before, Rob Eberle the owner of Cycle Recycle Parts II has sponsored this expedition and generously shipped the much needed parts to Tom Murphy’s house in Berryessa. Located in Indianapolis, The Cycle Recycle Parts stock an impressive inventory of used and new parts for classic Japanese motorcycles. Shipping is cheap and fast and Rob is a knowledgeable guy to talk to. It is nice to find a shop these days who you can actually talk to the owner rather than answering machines. The box consisted of a new high chrome fender, valve cover gasket, oil filter, inner tube, clutch cable, speedometer cable and a set of progressive fork springs.
At Tom’s house, we changed the front springs, made the new fender fit and fixed the kickstand on the bike. Chuck and Ray, two of Tom’s neighbors and bob, another GSer showed up and the party started. Over some and pizza, courtesy of Tom Murphy, we speculated on the best way of fixing the stand. Ray brought his welder over and welded the top surface of the bracket to raise the stand. In the mean time, Tom looked for his missing 14mm wrench for two hours and accused everyone of stealing it. It turned out he had it last and left it on the shelf!
Tom, Chuck, Ray and Bob are all great guys and their help was tremendous. We had a great time and lots of fun, but I had to be in Los Gatos for the night so I said my goodbyes and made plans for the next day to meet up in town for a ride in the mountains.
Chuck rode out with me on his Harley to show me the way. I was enjoying my new fork springs until we got to the exit ramp. I tried to lean the bike but nothing happened. I pressed on the handle bar and almost wetted my pants from what I saw. The handle bar was moving but the tire wasn’t! Somehow, between four “Certified Mechanics”, we forgot to tighten the fork pinch bolts and all that was holding it were the headlight ears.
I got off the curved ramp god knows how, and tried to catch up with Chuck (I had no idea where we were heading and didn’t want to lose him), but I couldn’t go as fast for the fear of losing control of the bike. Finally I caught up to him and flagged him to stop and we pulled over in a restaurant. Out of 6 bolts, 4 were finger tight and the other two barely hanging on. I escaped yet another fatal mistake…
I met up with Tom and Chuck in town the next day and we rode up on a twisty road going to the top of the mountain to kill some time at the Alice’s restaurant. This biker bar was a cool place and there were hundreds of bikers from all over. The ride was great and besides witnessing a motorcycle accident scene on the way, was without a glitch.
Tom treated us again to burgers and and we basked in the sunshine, talking and enjoying the view. Bob and chuck took off for San José and tom and I rode on highway 1 south for Santa Cruz. We said our goodbyes and I headed south as usual and tom west to San José.
I had a great time staying in Silicon Valley and made some amazing friends. California has been good to me so far. Next Stop; Monterey and Carmel...
I would like to thank Thomas D’Acquisto and Garrett Dulaney for their generous donations. Please make a donation of any amount for the month of October and let’s reach this month goal.
Andy Pogany, another GSer invited me to visit him if my travels took me to Monterey. Monterey is a small town just north of Carmel, on the coast of California. Famous for its fisheries from the years gone by, it was also the first capital of California.
I met Andy and his friend Dennis around 6pm at a shopping center near his house. Since it was getting dark, we exchanged a few words and started heading back towards his place. The road kept getting narrower and I started to doubt whether there was actually anything at the end of the path but sure enough, at the end of the road stood a beautiful house on top of a hill surrounded by oak trees.
After a great Hungarian dinner and lots of wine, we played Crokinole, a Canadian board game which was a lot of fun. You cannot beat Andy in that game and I was glad to be his partner. I went to bed around 2:30 and that set the precedent for the following nights.
The next day Andy took me out for a ride around Monterey and showed me much of the town. From fisherman’s wharf to local hotspots, we covered anything that was worth seeing and did some shopping for the bikes. We spent the rest of the night working on our rides, turning wrenches while listening to country music (according to Andy, a necessary activity).
We wired up a coil relay for Andy’s GS750 and fixed his broken mirror mount and later took the rear wheel off of the 850 and greased the splines which was overdue after 8000 miles of hard use. One thing led to another and when I looked at my watch it was already 4 am and we were still talking about cars and our various fruitless attempts to re-invent the wheel in our pasts.
My plan on leaving the next day came to a halt when I woke up at noon and could barely stand straight, so Jollene and Andy offered me to stay another night so we could see the State Parks and the town of Carmel.
We left for the coast rather late waiting for the morning rain to clear but still managed to see a lot of the places we intended. We toured the Carmel area in Andy’s old (1996) Porsche 911 which I was privileged to drive. Now I know what all the fuss is about when people talk about this German beauty. As Andy puts it, it’s a classic car with 6 angry Germans pushing in a trunk. My camera died when we were in Point Lobos and we were bummed that we couldn’t take more pictures and we felt really stupid later when we realized we both had our camera phones with us and didn’t even think of that.
After having dinner in a little Italian restaurant in Carmel (with a horrible “100 year old family recipe” garlic bread – Andy forced me to add this) we headed back to Monterey and made a promise to go to sleep early that night. It was all going as planned until we started talking about guitars and the last night of my stay turned into a jamming session that lasted until 3am. Andy pulled out his guitar collection and hooked up the Amp and we played everything from Persian folk songs to old blues. What a great night.
My stay in Monterey was memorable and although seemed like a vacation with no progress on the mission, it laid out a lasting friendship with a great couple. The exciting news is that Andy will be proof reading my journals which will save you some headache trying to figure out what I’m trying to say. Andy and Jollene, thank you both for your hospitality, I had a fantastic time.
If you are enjoying these updates, please support the cause by making a donation. As I have mentioned before, I will pitch in $2000 out of my personal travel funds if the collected donations surpass the $1500 goal for the month of October. All donations for this month will go to the “Centro de Recuperacion Nutricional Infantil Bethania” in Jocotán, Guatemala. It is a private medical center that treats about 400 malnourished children each year. They are desperately underfunded and your help is a matter of life and death.
I’ve been in need of a set of practical riding gear which would be waterproof, light weight, comfortable, not too flashy and most importantly 4 season. San Luis Motorsports had just the thing and after 5 hours of trying on different gear, I narrowed it down to Tourmaster jacket and riding pants. Steve Myrack, the owner of San Luis Motorsports, was generous enough to provide the gear for a deeply discounted price. If in San Luis Obispo, don’t miss this shop, they have a great selection.
The weather is changing as I travel further south, it is getting dryer, warmer and the population seems to grow by the mile. Now I know why so many people move to California. You can’t find nicer weather anywhere else.
I left SLO for Bakersfield on Friday and rode the Hwy 58 west. In 3 hours, I went from deep blue waters of the Pacific to the barren outskirts of the Mojave Desert. It reminded me of my beloved birth place Shiraz. There is something about the solitude in the desert that is hard to describe; the sunsets, the wind, the ever-changing sky line… I’m in love with it all over again.
I met Bill Rea, another GSer in Bakersfield, and stayed with him for two days. For the last 4000 miles, I’ve been trying to find a place where I could do my valve adjustment. I was getting more concerned every day, and I turned out to be right.
Out of 8 valves, 5 were so tight we couldn’t get a feeler gauge in to measure the valve lash (i.e. gap) and the other 3 were out of spec as well. We measured the shims a few times and got 6 of the valves to spec with what we had but we needed two more shims. After calling around and a look around the city, all we found was one shim and were out of luck on the second one.
It might sound horrifying to some “By the Book” mechanics but we had no choice other than to grind one shim down, fractions of millimeters at a time, to get the perfect clearance on the #2 Exhaust valve.
A Dremmel, a cutting disk, and patience like Bills did the job as he made the meticulous cuts and fixed the problem. We also fixed my wandering speedometer, tightened the steering, fixed the kickstand switch, and re-routed the throttle cable behind the forks. Bill also is a great cook – hence his username “Chef1366”. It was an honor to be their guest and I appreciate their hospitality.
I have a lecture in Barstow so I will be heading South/East for a while, stay tuned…
To be a revolutionary, you first need a revolution. —Ernesto Guevara
I have an addition to this famous line; to have a revolution, we first need an evolution.
We live in a time in which the world has never been healthier, wealthier, or more advanced, but absurdly, the condition of the poor has not improved for centuries regardless of our advancements. With blood-sucking organizations such as the World Trade Organization or International Monetary Fund leaving nothing for the poor and only caring for their own power, Leonard Cohen’s song mingle in my head, “The poor stay poor and the rich gets rich, and that’s how it goes, and everybody knows…” Does everybody know?
November is bladder-control awareness month! We have a month dedicated to not pissing our pants but shamefully and shockingly, there is no month or even a day dedicated to the first cause of the death: Hunger. No pretty pink ribbon, no merchandizing propaganda from Energizer, no bracelet to be sold at gas stations and sadly no one seems to care.
Hunger-associated disorders kill 36 million people each year worldwide. This is more than coronary heart disease, stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diarrheal diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, trachea, bronchus, lung cancers, road traffic accidents, prematurity and low birth weight, COMBINED.
Let me rephrase that because it is vaguely important. Hunger-associated disorders kill more people than the 10 major causes of death, but our government is more concerned about banning artificial sweeteners because it increased the rate of bladder cancer in laboratory rats that were fed large doses of saccharin!
The question remains: Why should we care?
Remember the hurricane Katrina victims? They had faces. They had media coverage. They had the whole world watching. We still failed to give them their most basic needs. Now imagine a family in Ethiopia or Haiti with no media coverage, no Wal-Mart to bring water, and nowhere to turn. Their story could be YOUR story. All it takes is one heavy cloud, one strong wind, one earthquake.
I don’t have superfluous expectations, I know that change won’t happen overnight but you can have a share in it. If we all sit down and do nothing, nothing will ever change. It takes one step, one dollar, one person at a time. The first step is raising awareness and every single one of you is capable of doing so. Spread the word. Send this message to everyone you know, whether via Facebook, MySpace, forums, or email. It takes less than a minute of your time to care and the result is undeniable.
You can refer them to my website at www.motorcyclememoir.com. To make donations to reach the goal for the month of October, please visit the donation page on this site and make it a reality.
Revolution starts with evolving our resources and ideas. We are far away from revolution. Let’s evolve, revolution will follow.
The reason i don't post pictures here is that they are much nicer on my webpage unless i spend another 30 minutes, uploading full size pictures here.
no need to upload the picture - just insert a link to the photo on your website and it will show here too. Easy to do - click the postcard looking icon in the editor, put in the url of your image and that's it.
Youtube can also be directly embedded. Again, jsut click the youtube button in the editor.
Tip - don't post too big a photo anywhere - most people have at most 1280 wide screens, and few have fantastic bandwidth, which means with margins / menus etc about 800 wide is great.
First, I would like to thank Cynthia Qusipe, Matthew Hanscom and Debbie Medina for their generous donations.
Bakersfield to Barstow on Hwy 58 is only 130 miles, but it was the worst 130 miles of my journey so far. Wind blew at a vicious velocity bringing clouds of dust that made the highway invisible at times. My mouth filled up with sand, and my goggles didn’t seem to be effective in protecting my eyes. I stopped after every dust storm and cried a river to get the sand out.
Stretching from the Colorado River on the Nevada border to the highly populated Riverside, San Bernardino County is a barren piece of land at its best. Boasting to be the largest county in the lower 48, the northern part is also one of the poorest I have visited so far.
My presentation was supposed to be on the 9th of November at the Barstow library, but to my surprise, the newspaper article claimed it to be on the 6th. Nevertheless, the library staff were super and helped with everything I asked for. I enjoyed chatting with them for hours. They are providing services with what little they have to a town of over 30,000 and doing a great job of it. To accentuate how poor this town was, I had found Wi-Fi in Chicken, AK with a population of only 27, but it was non- existent in Barstow library.
In Barstow I stayed with Eva Cox, the daughter of Tom Cox of the Poet Motorcycles (one of my sponsors) and had a great time. We celebrated her roommate’s birthday that evening, and I woke up the next day with a head the size of a basketball. I lost the edge on drinking I suppose; I used to be good at it!
I was praying for low winds on the way back and for most of the way it was fine, but as I approached the windmills outside of Mojave, it got stronger by the second. An electronic sign read “High winds. Campers and RVs not advised”. I have seen some strong winds in my lifetime, but none compared to what I went through in that 20 miles stretch. The wind pushed and shoved my 1000lb bike to the other lane with no effort, and all I could do was hang on for dear life or pull over to set my balls back in place.
I’m back in Bakersfield for Spanish lessons. My plan was to attend a language school once I entered Mexico but I decided to get a jump start here in States. I will get back on the road shortly and will head for Arizona. Stay tuned…
First, I would like to thank Steven Lovestrand and Irina Loftus for their generous donations.
After spending three days on the phone talking to UNICEF directors in three countries and four different banks to get the phone number of Dispensario Bethania, I finally got a hold of its director, Dr. Carlos Arriola. I was trying to confirm the account information to ensure that the money didn’t end up in the wrong person’s pocket. International wire-transferring is a complicated business as the funds have to go through several channels in order to reach the final beneficiary. I’m glad it’s all done and the funds are where they were intended to be.
As part of my outreach, I am interested in establishing contact with activists and bloggers who are also concerned with malnutrition. In my research, I ran across “Hunger and Poverty”, a blog by Scott Hughes. Scott is a passionate individual who runs a few websites including www.millionsofmouths.com which is a forum-type website focusing on malnutrition and poverty. The discussion area on his site is a great tool to bring like minded people together and discuss ideas and solutions for different issues.
“We base our philosophy on the belief that every sane person [in the] would rather get quality education and sufficient employment than suffer from poverty, hunger, or homelessness.” Scott explains. I admire his dedication and agree with his ideology.
Today is the 90th day since I started my journey and I am overwhelmed by the support and generosity of so many. I am also touched by the numerous comments and emails that I have received throughout this time. It is your comments and notes that encourage me to go on and help me not to feel alone.
Of course, it is natural that not everyone will agree with what I do or how I do it, and there have been times that I was criticized for my views and even the cause. Some wrote to suggest that our planet is too over-populated and that famine works as one of nature’s regulators for population control. Although it is true that famines and wars do regulate population, they failed to mention why their class has the right to live and others don’t. What makes it ok for Maria in Honduras to perish from the devastating effects of famine while Jack in Connecticut can enjoy golfing on his private course?
Some even consider me nothing more than a “hippie dreamer” with unrealistic expectations. They claim that reaching out to other cultures is futile and label whoever runs their country differently than ours as dictators.
In response one commentator contrasted, “…most dictators in the areas where these practices are happening are in fact puppets of western states. You won’t hear about them on CNN, however when a country gets away from this and elects a leader focused on bettering their own people, they are vilified in the popular media, targeted by western death squads, and the country is usually devastated by economic sanctions, or by the use of free flow capital and the trade of prospect, driving down the local currency making it harder and harder for the country to stand on its own.”
Whether I receive criticism or praise, I embrace both wholeheartedly as they bring about attention to this issue and function as catalysts for change. That’s what I like about Scott’s website as it enables people to speak out and through dialogues, achieve a level of understanding and compassion for other viewpoints and brings them all to the realization: together we can be constructive regardless of our differences.
Hippie, Yuppie, Republican, Democrat, Bible-thumper, atheist, Star-trek fan, or whoever you are, keep in mind that at the end of the day we are all human beings with the right breath, to dream, to have the chance to become better than what we are.
NOV. 23RD. WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY
I am on the road again heading for Los Angeles after a rather long period of inactivity (riding wise). I came to Bakersfield, CA to fix some motorcycle problems and had no intention of staying more than a night or two but ended up staying for 29 days, aside from my time in Barstow.
Andy Pogany once jokingly mentioned that Cynthia Quispe was keeping me like the Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey. Legend has it that the Sirens sing from the sharp rocks by their island to lure sailors. As the sailors hear the singing, they cannot resist so they draw closer to the rocks until they shipwreck. Legend also holds that if a sailor hears the singing but is able to escape, the Sirens perish.
Now, I am no sailor, and Cynthia doesn’t sing, and as far as I know, she is very much alive! What did keep me here was my nightmarish logistical planning for crossing the border into Mexico and getting everything done before I leave the country for the next 5 years. I also wanted to get a jump-start on my Spanish which Cynthia offered to help with.
Cynthia has been very enthusiastic and supportive about the cause ever since I set foot in Bakersfield. She came up with different ideas literally every day on how to help, from donating her payment for a photo-shoot to Dispensario Bethania (the malnourishment recovery institution in Guatemala), to coming up with ideas on how to raise more money and awareness about starvation. November 11th was Cynthia’s birthday. At her party, every guest who attended was asked not to bring a present, but rather to donate to the cause in lieu of gifts. As a photographer and social worker, being involved is not new to Cynthia, but I am glad to have her on my side.
Aside from working on my meager Spanish skills, I’ve been diligently spreading the word about my expedition and in particular, the issue of Hunger. I’m excited to see that more people are coming on board with ideas on how to get involved with the cause from all parts of the globe: from Paraguay to the Netherlands to Iran to Australia. It’s been rewarding to establish connections via different mediums such as forums, emails, and my blog, and to know that my work is paying off.
During this time, I also managed to bring my website up to the shape that it is today with a lot of help from Andy Pogany. My stay in Monterey, CA brought upon a great friendship with Andy and ever since then, he has taken on the role of proof-reader/editor for the website. I stayed up many nights editing CSS, HTML and PHP codes, refining the layout and functionality of the website. I can say that it is finally what I envisioned a year ago when I was planning to launch it.
On one of those long editing nights, I received a $20 donation from a guy named Matthew Hanscom. Moments later, I received another email notifying me that Matt sent a friend request via Facebook. I was already on-line so I added him and we started chatting. As it turned out, Matt is another GSR member (GSR is short for GS Resources, a motorcycle forum community that focuses on the old GS line of Suzuki motorcycles) who rides the same motorcycle as I do and wanted to help.
While I was thanking him, I mentioned how I do not ask people to alter their lifestyle or to give away half of what they have, but that any little thing that someone can spare goes a long way. I was blown away when Matt responded that his donation of $20.00 was exactly half of what he had in his bank account at that moment. If that is not selflessness, I don’t know what is. Oh, and by the way, that is not all Matt did. He read one of my posts that my windshield was broken and offered to send me his. Although I didn’t end up taking him up on his offer as my windshield is still functional, it is heart-warming to see such generous acts of kindness.
I fully understand that times are tough for many of us. With all the lay-offs, rising cost of everything and our own to care for, it is hard to part with our disposable income. Yet, some are figuring out ways to still contribute regardless of their financial circumstances.
Jared Williams is one such person. Yet another GSR member, he is a man with a heart for helping people. Jared reflects, “We should all be doing the best we can to keep things together and help out those that we can. Some of that is people you are in direct contact with on a daily basis, and part of that is through monetary support for people in need further away.”
With 3 kids at home to provide for, Jared and his wife strive to live a life in which they make good use of their resources. They eschew excessive consumption and waste in favor of reducing what they use as a family, and ultimately giving some of what is not used to help others in need.
When Jared first contacted me he wrote: “Things are tight now as with others but I will set something aside and send it along.” Soon after, he wrote again to report that he had finished building a bar and gave his customer a bare bottom price for his work and told the customer that if he liked the work, to consider paying a little extra so that Jared could donate to the cause. Jared’s customer ended up paying an extra $100 that Jared donated on my website which will go to the World Food Programme.
Jared used his skills to come up with a solution, Cynthia made her birthday party into a fundraiser, Matt gave half of the cash he had, and Andy made it easier for you to read my blog by polishing my writing.
Where there is a will, there is always a way. This story was their way. This ride is my way. Make this month a month for giving – find your way.
DEC 6TH, BIKE ASSAULT AND BATTERY
Have you ever wanted to castrate a man with a dull spread knife?
On one of my last days in Los Angeles, I parked my bike on a street under a sign that read “tow-away zone from 4-7”. I was thinking of moving it the whole time but one thing led to another and by the time I got around to it, it was 4:30 and the bike was gone.
I called the city and they said that bike was impounded and they gave me the towing company’s address to go and get it. Since this motorcycle is my only transportation, I called a cab and got there 45 minutes later in the rush-hour traffic of L.A.
I walked inside a mall size towing company called Keystone Towing where my motorcycle was supposed to be stored. I was already angry and blaming myself for the stupid parking zone violation, but that’s just one side of the story. They told me that the towing fee was $217 plus an $80 citation to the Los Angeles police department.
I told the clerk to show me the bike so I can inspect it and see that everything is ok before I would pay the charges. He walked me through the storage lot and when I got to the bike, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The tank was ripped off the frame and hanging from the two bolts under the seat. The cable lock was wrapped up around my rear wheel from them pulling the bike. The forks were bent with a slight arch in them, the seat was bent back and ripped, and finally, the gas tank rubber bushings and a 10mm bolt sitting under the bike.
As calm as I could be (which is probably not what you imagine the word calm would mean), I asked for the manger to come over. The operations manager walked out and I told him I don’t care how it happened, just tell me loud and clear what you are going to do about it and tell me now.
With utmost insolence and unprofessional disrespect, he countered with “how do we know it wasn’t like this when it got here?” At this point I wanted to demolish his face right then and there but I stepped away and called 911 to send out a police officer.
While I was waiting, the manager went on with taking pictures and telling me that I have two options: A) pay the fee for the bike and get it out of there or, B) they would charge me an additional $45 every day for storage if I choose not to pay the fee now. The cops got there and they refused to make a damage report on the grounds that this was a civil dispute and not criminal, and if I have a problem with it, I can go to court and request a hearing.
Since I’m constantly traveling, have nowhere to stay in the city, nor have the time or patience to pursue a law suit against a city-contracted towing company, so knowing all that, I said to the manager “you know what; just give me something…, drop the towing fees and I’ll be on my way.” After a long conversation, he said that $100 of the towing fee goes to L.A county and they can’t wave that and all he can do is to give me a discount, and for that, I had to sign a waiver that I am OK with everything and will not sue the company!
As I assessed my options to settle the damages given my travel situation, I told him to let me try to crank the bike so I can see if it even runs, and that there might be other damages that I can’t see in the dark warehouse with a flash light. If it at least moves, I can make my decision then.
Not only was this guy rude and arrogant from the start, this time he said: “Take it or leave it. I won’t let you see the bike until you pay for it or get out because we are closing right now.”
At this point I paid the full amount so I retain the right to sue them when I get the bike out. They ran my bank card and then, they wanted me to sign a paper saying that “I have received the above vehicle in satisfactory condition”. I told them “Hell no. I’m not signing that. I already paid for your ‘service’ and I want my bike NOW.” They said if you don’t sign the paper, you will not get your bike.
So I called 911 again and asked for yet another visit from the police which took 45 minutes. With police intervention, a segment was added to the paper that the bike is in a damaged state and I listed all the damages I could see, made two copies and I finally got the bike out of there.
I bent the tank back down but it’s only holding on with the back bolts, the paint is chipped and cracked on the tank(this tank was in immaculate shape, see the older pictures on my website) and the seat is bent and ripped and it won’t stay on without moving to left and right.
I am seriously thinking about suing the United Roads Towing Co. and its division the Keystone Towing. Maybe the damage is not worth the trouble, but it is a matter of principle. Paying the traffic fine is one thing which I don’t have a problem with as it was my own fault, but getting raped by the city and their contracted towing company is something else.
I am grateful to Dana Onel for hosting me at her place in Sherman Oaks and like to thank all those who called, emailed and offered their help to get me back on the road. Wrong doing of one company does not alter my perception of the good people of California and in particular Los Angeles.
I resolved the towing issue although not satisfactory. Instead of leaving the bike for eight days in their repair shop, I opted for a one-time cash settlement of $350 for the damages. This doesn’t even come close to the actual cost but I had no desire to stick around and try my luck with the bureaucracy of our justice system. I fixed the bike in Bakersfield and aside from the paint damage, it is up and running again.
Up to now, this expedition has evolved on so many different levels and I am excited to announce a very special change. As you already read in my previous posts, a series of events and setbacks have kept me in Bakersfield and during this time I met Cynthia Quispe. Cynthia is a passionate social worker and award-winning photographer whom I relate to on many issues. This was not an easy decision to make for either one of us, but after much consideration and internal debate, I am honored to introduce you to Cynthia as she will be joining the Transcontinental Humanitarian Expedition. Please welcome her to the world of tarmac and rubber. –Chris Sorbi
My name is Cynthia, and I am about to take a leap. I am not the ardent adventurer that Chris is. While motorcycles intrigue me, I’ve never so much as ridden one alone aside from a couple of short zips down a quiet country road. Yet, I am about to join an expedition that involves leaving behind all of my creature comforts and head off into the unknown on one.
What would induce a social worker with a stable and rewarding job to leave the security and safety of her day-to-day life? The truth is that I have been dreaming about doing something that allows me to combine my passion for helping people with my passion for photography. The heart of this expedition, which is to raise funds and awareness for starvation, is what compels me to make that leap. I am excited about the unique opportunity that this expedition affords me to have a greater platform to impact change and to make a difference in a tangible way.
Of course, there are certain risks and challenges involved with an undertaking of this sort, particularly as a female. For one, my hyper-active imagination and penchant for reading news about tourist trips gone wrong don’t help my peace of mind in setting out into the great unknown. I am easily scared. I feel vulnerable not knowing where exactly I’ll be laying my head and what sort of two or four-legged creatures will be outside my tent at night. Not having my soft bed or a warm shower every day I can deal with. But the cold and I are not the best of friends, and I loathe the thought of times of being bone-cold and tired with no relief from the cold. I freely admit to being jealous of the male species’ plumbing as I know that I can’t count on finding an actual restroom in the middle of nowhere whenever nature calls. But the drive and the passion for the cause outweigh these minor hardships.
Along with the massive amount of preparation that has to be done to get myself ready to join this journey in short order, there are technical issues to be addressed. In order to maximize my chances of success in enduring life on the road, we have planned intensive training to bring me up to speed. Courtesy of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, I will be taking the Basic Rider and Dirt Bike courses in the following week. I will also undergo additional hands-on training under the tutelage of Andrew Pogany in Monterey, California. While this preparation phase will be intense and challenging, I am determined to make the best of it so that I can be ready.
So sorry to hear about the damage caused to your GS WOW I can understand your anger and Grief.
What a Bunch of Dodos. thanks for the warning about unscruplios people. they are in every country but my advise to you, remain the good ambassador that you are the biker faternity must remain the peacemakers the Samaritans and watchful eye of all good and bad in all countries.
Even when you think your home is the best place on earth, it is probably not as it is made up of so many diffrent people, the good the bad and the ugley.
Perhaps if you go back to these people and explain your position of ... ambasador for the poor and starving... and the work that you do and ask for their help to repair your bike, I am sure that people in this industry know people with the required skills and, and if they refuse say nothing and go to the News Paper and plead your case " International Ambasador for the poor disadvantaged by unscruplious city towing Co" Im sure that you can think up a good case. The paper is a better court than any Magistrate... good press or bad ..
You have an event!!! and a cause.... go press for some press. A good journalist can make it a good story world povert against the powerful city ordinance.
Take care and turn the bad into good use the press to your advantage send messsges ahead to small town news papers and have them announce you arrival and advertise your cause.
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