@2UPTOGETHER: SHARING ADVENTURE TRAVEL
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 12/12/16
For the 11th installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are very lucky to speak with one of the coolest adventure duo’s out there, Kevin and Beth Young. Also known as 2uptogether.
I discovered their journey through Instagram but have since discovered they are quite available on all social media platforms. They have a Facebook page, a website, a twitter account, and really I can’t get enough. Their photography is inspirational. Their checklist of great destinations is admirable. And last but not least, they seem like genuinely good people who really enjoy each other and doing things together. Their YouTube channel is also a great place to spend a few minutes.
Kevin and Beth have been riding together almost 20 years and show an authentic enthusiasm for the road. Specifically, exploring beautiful places and travelling there by motorcycle. Through their social media posts and pictures, you can certainly get a sense of their passion.
While everybody’s idea of adventure is flushed out in different ways, there is no denying the adventurous spirit of these two. I think they certainly set a terrific example for others out there who seek the road less traveled.
They are an excellent reminder that sharing the things you love with the people you love is really what it is all about.
Year, Make, Model of your bike?
2015 BMW R1200 GS Adventure
Did you name your bike? What do you call it?
Of course, Gisele. Our 2013 GSA was named Brutus but this one looks more like a supermodel.
When and how did you get it?
We got it last fall from the fine folks at BMW Motorcycles of Utah. In all seriousness those guys have been great to deal with, we know them all now.
What other bike did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
So you asked me how we got it which will tell you how much thought went into this purchase. We were taking a trip to southern Utah to ride in Moab, Mexican Hat, Monument Valley and Glen Canyon. I took the 2013 GSA to BMW Motorcycles of Utah to get a new Karoo 3 rear. While waiting I kept staring at the 2015 GSA’s in stock. They had three in stock, Alpine White with a sold sign, Olive Green Metallic and of course the Racing Blue Metallic. When my bike was done I was getting my gear on to leave when the sales manager came over to say good bye. I joked with him and told him if he gave me too much for mine and too little for his we could probably do a trade. He laughed and said when I was ready to call him. About an hour later I called him and asked him to put some figures together. Two hours later I was back at the dealership doing paperwork. I called Beth and told her we had a new BMW for the trip and she thought I was joking. She asked me “didn’t you just put a new tire on the motorcycle”? It was then I realized I paid for a tire on a bike I just traded. We broke it in that weekend did I first service and then were off to Southern Utah to put Gisele through the paces. You asked about considering other bikes. Listen we are not paid or sponsored by BMW. I can honestly say while we admire other bikes the BMW Motorcycles and dealer network cannot be beat. No matter where you go you can find a BMW dealer. This is important to us.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
I added Black Dog Cycle Works pegs to this bike and the 2013. They are so much bigger and wider than the factory pegs they make a long day off road much easier. They are lower by about 1/2 inch and with the Touratech Bar Risers I added it makes for a comfortable standing position. They also make steering the bike with your feet easy. We added Ilium Works pegs for her which was a huge improvement for Beth. They are much wider than factory and machine cut aluminum for maximum grip. That coupled with her Forma Adventure Boots means we can jump things off road and she feels secure in the saddle. I believe Black Dog Cycle Works skid plates should be mandatory. They just add so much protection over any aluminum skid plate. We have found with a fully loaded bike and riding we 2UP we bottom out on things frequently. You don’t have to be on things that gnarly to take out an engine. It is surprising at times where we hear that clank. It also does a great job at protecting the exhaust pipes. We really like the AeroFlow headlight cover which is very necessary protection off road. Also being watercooled we added the Wunderlich radiator guards. Something we added that is very handy is the underseat storage from Touratech. This is also the second bike we added the Altrider kickstand foot to which works great in the soft stuff. (None of these people sponsor us or have given us any product, this is all stuff I would buy again).
What do you consider to be your current job or goal?
Our goal is always to share adventure. It is satisfying to ride but we are never satisfied with how much we ride.
What is your favorite part about it living off of your bike?
Ha! It appears that way on social media and we ride more than most but it is unfortunately not full time. We are fortunate that we share this passion so just about all of our free time is spent riding somewhere for another adventure.
What is your least favorite part about it?
I’m sure if we did it full time we could fall into that trap but we can’t imagine not loving that amazing freedom. Our least favorite part is earning a living so we can enjoy our passion.
How many miles have you put on your bike?
Since last fall we are about 22,000.
What is the best place you have taken it?
We have ridden across most of Canada. Most people in the United States don’t realize what they have sitting right above them, I blame our school systems. The country is largely unpopulated so riding on and off road is amazing. There are just large sections of road with little on it but just the natural scenery. Yet when you get to a town you have all the comforts you expect without the crowds. Obviously they have some large cities but most of Canada is made up of small towns. The eastern half of Canada feels like you are in Europe. Quebec and Ottawa certainly feel like France. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are unlike any place we have ever been. The people have always been so accommodating and friendly. We recently made a trip to Banff and were so well taken care of at a cabin lodge we didn’t want to leave.
Is there just one?
Never, we have our bucket list destinations but I think that list never stops growing. We just don’t have enough time in this life to do it all which is why we continue to share adventure.
Favorite road you’ve ridden?
Highway 12 from Torrey, Utah to Bryce Canyon is about as epic as it gets. Plus if you have an adventure bike there are a lot of detours.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living and traveling off of a motorcycle, what would you tell them?
If you want your loved one to start riding 2UP with you off road to start slow. Baby steps, it is scary for the rider and passenger. Both need confidence and being an expert off road is great but it is different when riding 2UP. Bike doesn’t handle the same. There is more weight on board and whenever you have an obstacle you have to remember you are riding for 2. Downhill is a huge challenge. The worst thing you could do is crash right out of the box and ruin the confidence of the passenger. It won’t do a lot for the rider either. We bought the first GS and just stupidly headed out to some gnarly trails. Since then we took it easy and built up to stuff I wouldn’t have considered riding 2UP a couple of years ago. There are still times you need to say no. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone expect each other. It can be the greatest way to see the wilderness but skill makes it enjoyable. If the two of you are in sync from experience it couldn’t be more awesome.
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 life where you became conscious that you were those kind of people?
I was always a busy kid. I played sports year round and wasn’t particularly good at anything but needed to be busy. When not playing sports I was on a motorcycle of some sort riding. I just never sat still. As I answer these questions I am rocking back and forth in a stationary chair. Beth was initially along for the ride when we married a little over 18 years ago but once she experienced the freedom and exhilaration she was hooked. We both are pretty outgoing, talkative people but find peace in doing something with each other that would seem loud, fast and dangerous to the outside world. I’ve always said my brain runs fast and I need the speed of something else to slow me down. Beth is like the little devil on my shoulder pushing me to go up some gnarly road. She is completely on board if not my muse.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders, do you see yourself as someone who gets more out of your travels knowing that you have a following of people appreciating what you’re doing?
Not at all. We are still surprised anyone follows us. This all really started as a way to share photos with friends and family. A friend of Beth’s suggested we create a blog and instead we created a Facebook page. It started growing and we started an Instagram page and it started growing. It was sort of surreal and still is to us. We were and still would do this stuff if nobody watched. Our focus of what we post and what we say has changed a bit. We realize people are watching and we want to share the message of what this passion has done for our marriage. There is so much negativity in the world and we don’t want to be a break from that and hope we inspire others to get out and strengthen their relationship. It doesn’t have to be on a motorcycle. It could be on bikes, in a van or it could be hiking. We just think anything one on one that challenges you is a team building exercise. We obviously are on a adventure bike but it is great to see people follow us that get that and don’t own a motorcycle. The surprising part of all of this is how much inspiration we get from emails, direct messages and photos people send us on different social media. It makes this world feel smaller than it is and certainly friendlier.
What values do you think your hometown instilled in you that you take on the road and bring to your trips?
I don’t know if it is my hometown but I think it is family. My father was a country music singer (Faron Young) and made his living singing and entertaining. He had money and fame but he was the guy from the dairy farm in Shreveport, Louisiana where he was raised. So I was raised to treat others the way I wanted to be treated. My father took me along on a lot of events when I was a child. I think all of that attention from strangers eventually led to me to the place I am out now which is I have never met a stranger. A story I have is when I was about 9 years old my father played in a Pro/Celebrity Golf Tournament in Nashville, TN. One of the other celebrities was Evel Knievel. My dad got me in behind the ropes where I got an autograph and photo with Evel. It was the highlight of my life! The man was such a hero to me and I told him how I had a mini-bike and wanted to be just like him when I grew up. He looked down at me and told me to make sure I always wore a helmet. Not what I wanted to hear as I was hoping for some wisdom on how to jump 14 buses but that coming from my hero stuck. To this day I can’t ride around the block without those words in the back of my mind. He certainly had his personnel issues but he was a good role model.
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?
So I hope we haven’t disappointed you that we don’t live full time off the bike. The question is still valid. We don’t live in a conventional way now. Not many people our age or any age do what we do together on a motorcycle. We have talked about selling it all and going full time. Thing is with that freedom would come the eventual conditional obligations of a sponsor or sponsors. Having a job allows us the freedom to do what we want but not be held to obligations of others when it comes to riding. All that being said if we hit the lotto forget big cars and houses, we would be on the road the next day.
Where do you want to go next?
Most of our year is made up of 3-4 day adventures. We never plan much on any of them until we get to the date. Weather is always an issue and who wants to ride in the rain for an entire trip? So we have 2-3 ideas and watch the weather to look for the best direction. In August we planned on a 10 day trip for our 18th wedding anniversary. We were planning on doing a lot of the Colorado back country but then the weather turned a bit so we rode to Banff. I know, just a bit different when heading from Salt Lake City, Utah but that’s the thing with adventure. You just never know where it is going to take you.