KELVIN & SUZIE: @AVVIDACYRIL
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orca’s – 8/6/18
For the eighty fifth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orca’s, we are very pleased to share the story of Suzie Bostock and Kelvin Prevett. You may know them for their adventure motorcycle travels and @avvidacyril.
Suzie and Kelvin are a British couple who love exploring on our motorbikes. Their ambition is to explore as much of the world as they can by motorbike. They have began their travels in South America, giving themselves a two year window to explore and travel before they head back to their jobs to start saving for the next extended adventure.
Realizing that they would not be satisfied with working 9-5’s and taking the standard two week vacation annually until retirement, they came up with a plan to save and travel by motorbike for a couple years. We find them now in the middle of their first big adventure ride.
Suzie and Kelvin are both inspirational and adventurous. Their travels are a great reminder to take care of the people and the passions that burn brightest within us.
Check out our interview below.
*Most of these photo’s are taking by Suzie or Kelvin but if they are not, photo credit is noted.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
Currently we consider our only work to be feeding our AvVida blogs along with Overlander Health and associated social media, while hopefully inspiring others to take the leap of faith and get out there on their own adventures, however long or short, and adding something back to the travel/overlanding community. Unfortunately we will have to go back to ‘normality’, where Suzie is a physiotherapist in the NHS and Kelvin is a project manager for the British Government, for his sins.
Tell me about your bike. What do you call it?
Both our bikes are 22 year old Suzuki DR650’s (1996 SE models), we went for the DRs as they are good allrounders and not too heavy. Although attached to our bikes we don’t actually name them; however we do have a travel mascot called Cyril the Sloth, who travels on the back of Suzie’s bike and seems to make lots of friends, he’s even got his own Instagram account now. We’ve even had bikers ride up and shake his hand while traveling along on the back of Suzie’s bike!
When and how did you get your bikes?
We got both our DRs for around £1500 (GBP) each in the UK. The DR650SE is harder to come by in the UK as they were only imported for a short period; however we happened to be looking on eBay at the right time and managed to get Suzie’s DR650 first. We got Suzie’s DR a year before we travelled and went on a two week trip to Italy so she could see if she liked it and she ended up loving it. While actually testing Suzie’s DR in Italy a friend of Kelvin’s managed to find him a good conditioned DR from one of his friends, so we asked them to hold on to it and snapped it up on our return to the UK.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
We knew we wanted to travel on two wheels as we prefer the heightened senses of being exposed to the environment, we also like the way it allows us to interact with the locals more readily. Preferring to ride off the beaten track ultimately means doing a lot of dirt roads. Kelvin was reasonably confident riding off-road as he had done a fair amount in the past; however until about a year before our travels Suzie had only ever been on Tarmac, she joined the local Trail Rider’s Fellowship in order to start learning and building her confidence off-road. Considering many bikes the ultimate decision came down to a bike Suzie was happy with as she’s more vertically challenged and physically smaller. Kelvin wanted both bikes to be the same model to make life easier in terms of carrying spares and tools. The final cut was the Honda CRF230F, the Suzuki DR650SE, and the Yamaha WR250R. We decided against the CRF230F because of the luggage we would be carrying and we weren’t sure if it’d be too much for it. The thing which turned us off the Yamaha WR250R was the initial cost of the bike, if affordability wasn’t an issue we would also consider the Husqvarna 701.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Oh yes! The DR650 is a capable bike; however to make it a good adventure bike there were a good few modifications we wanted to do in preparation for long-term travel. This included things like a long-range fuel tank (Acerbis 26 litre), seat upgrades, 50/50 tyres, upgraded suspension front and rear, upgraded stators and in addition LED bulbs as the DR has limited electrical power output and we wanted to be able to run a few extra electrical gadgets such as heated grips, GPS etc. We added wider and more aggressive foot pegs with lowered mounts plus a whole host of other tweaks and changes in addition to general maintenance such as welding repairs, electrical repairs, wheel bearings, brake fluid, brake pads etc.
What is your favorite part about living off of your bike?
We love the freedom the bikes give us to explore the countries we visit as they allow us to get off the beaten path and go to remote villages where outsiders are not the norm. Being on a bike leaves you open to your surroundings, which we feel is a positive as people are a lot more willing to come up to us and ask questions or tap our tank and exclaim “Plastico?!” or ask us about the size of the bike…so far the South Americans seem obsessed with size as the majority of their daily run-around bikes are 125’s.
What is your least favorite part about it?
We love being on the bikes and currently wouldn’t change our mode of travel, however Suzie is not a fan of the bitterly cold days or when there’s a lot of strong wind buffeting her around. Kelvin dislikes packing things away and the physical amount of gear on the bikes, as we still have far too much stuff, although we have reduced it drastically from when we set of originally as we’ve left a trail of gear behind us in several different countries!
What is the best place you have taken it?
That’s a hard one! As you can imagine we’ve been many places on our travels, and South America never ceases to amaze us. Some of the two to three day rides on the roads less travelled have been utterly amazing from coastline to mountains, volcanoes, lakes, stunning rock formations. We have had the luxury of taking our time to explore South America, whereas when we have travelled in Europe it’s always been a bit rushed due to work, although it doesn’t take away from the beautiful places we’ve been able to visit in France, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium. For us now it is not a tick-box exercise of passport stamps but a mission to really get to know and explore the countries we are fortunate enough to visit. It’s all about the adventure and not the destination.
Is there just one?
Definitely not! We could write a huge long list of must-see’s and places to go, especially if you’re happy riding on dirt roads.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
If we had to pick one, we would go for the two day trip we took on the back roads between Santa Teresa and Andahuaylas in Southern Peru, we will be releasing a highlight video of this trip shortly. We are now looking forward to exploring Bolivia and beyond over the next year, having travelled extensively through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru over the past 15 months.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
Just do it, you won’t regret it, and don’t overthink it…which includes not over-packing!
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your lives where you became conscious that you were those kind of people?
We’ve always had that ethos sub-consciously, however I think we were on the treadmill of collecting destination stamps, and ticking off places as quickly as possible. This adventure has made us appreciate life and what a beautiful place the world actually is, and generally the people in it. It’s made us slow down a lot and keep us focused on where we are, and how fortunate we are.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
Kelvin’s parents have travelled to many destinations all around the world on holidays in the past, as well as living in other countries, which has installed a sense of exploration in him.
Suzie’s mum and step-dad have been travelling on a refurbished wooden boat since her and her siblings left school, which has given her the thirst for travel and they have always been keen for her to travel and explore. Suzie’s step-sister lives in Kenya, so an adventure in Africa will be next on the agenda.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourselves as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
We took a leap of faith, after dreaming about it for a long time, we committed ourselves by booking a plane ticket a year in advance which definitely gave us a fixed goal. We had talked about long-term travel for a long time and been saving and making adjustments to our lifestyle, but had no fixed plans. One evening, whilst sharing a bottle of wine (or three) and a curry with a good friend, she asked us “so when are you going?” This made us think more about it and think to ourselves about why we hadn’t made a plan yet, and within a week the ball was rolling.
Where do you want to go next?
Geographically we want to go all over the world, however our next continent to explore is likely to be Africa. We had always been a little bit anxious about travelling in Africa, however since Suzie’s step-sister lives in Kenya, and after meeting some great friends from South Africa on the road, Michnus and Elsebie Olivier (pikipikioverland.com), we have been re-educated and are now looking forward to exploring Africa and South Africa.
Career wise we’re by no means off the conventional treadmill as we will have to return to work in order to fund further travel; however we have set goals for ourselves and our lifestyle to hopefully live a lot more of our lives in this ‘unconventional’ way. If we could afford it, or find jobs based on working remotely then we would live unconventionally on a permanent basis. Watch this space…