With a career that spans more than a decade, Gary Young is one of the most accomplished and well-rounded BMX riders in the world. Not only has he won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the X Games, but he has managed to continue to innovate and have fun in a sport that is always evolving. We recently had the chance to chat with the father of two from San Diego, and he shared some thoughts on his busy schedule, his favorite gear, and the what he can’t live without while on the road.
Gear Institute: Hi Gary! Thanks for taking some time to chat with us. Can you tell us what you’ve been up to lately?
Gary Young: Believe it or not, I have been riding and trying to stay healthy. I definitely feel way better when I eat healthy and take care of my body. When I’m off my bike, I’m chasing around my two favorite little people (Gary has a young daughter and son), and that keeps me pretty busy too.
I just got back from Spain from a Vans Pro Cup stop at the beginning of May. I am also filming a video project for Odyssey, and getting ready for the X Games qualifier in Boise, ID, in June. In July I am heading to Woodward East for a week, just before X Games.
Both of my kids are into riding and have been joining me at the skate park lately. It’s pretty ridiculous watching both—my four-year-old daughter dressed in a tutu, and my one-year-old son—charging a bowl. I can honestly say that I never imagined that…life is good.
GI: Sounds like a fun, rich, and busy life. Glad you’re enjoying it! Other than your sponsor’s gear, what other items do you always take with you when you hit the road?
GY: My iPhone for sure. I feel like this one is a given. My iPhone 7 basically does everything for me these days. I can’t live without it while traveling.
I always carry a camping pillow too. Spending the last 15 years on the road, I’ve grown accustom to traveling with a pillow. It’s perfect for bringing on flights and gives me a bit of consistency when I’m sleeping in different places all the time.
A water bottle and snacks are constant companions. There’s nothing worse than looking at how much time you have left on a flight and realizing that you are going to have to stay thirsty or hungry for a while. My water bottle is pretty big because flying gets you dehydrated and ain’t nobody trying to spend $9 on a liter of water at the airport. I seem to stay less jet lagged when I stay hydrated too.
When riding and training, I’ve got to take care of my body, so a foam roller is a must. That thing helps keep me going for sure. Also, if you can find a hollow one, it takes up almost no space.
I’m also a big fan of stuff sacks. Living out of a bag can be rough when your dirty clothes are mingling with your clean ones. So, I have found that a stuff sack keeps my clean clothes clean, and it condenses down the size of the dirty clothes, leaving you with more space in your luggage when you head home.
GI: All good stuff that any frequent traveler needs. And what gear from your sponsors are part of your regular equipment too?
GY: My bike of course. Working with the designers at Sunday Bikes to put together a bike that is identical to the one I run is pretty surreal. The fact that anybody can just pick up my bike for $999 is crazy considering that it is a pro level bike right out of the box. I run a 2017 Sunday Bikes Gary Young complete.
I’m a huge fan of LifeProof cases as well. I use the Frē for iPhone 7. If I were to break my phone on the road that would be a nightmare. It’s also nice when the impromptu snorkeling session happens or I get to document the fish chase.
When it comes to footwear, I’ve been feeling the Vans Sk8 Hi Pros lately. The way the waffle sole grips the pedal is just too good. And they feel great on my feet too!
I’m currently using an Odyssey bike bag, which looks like a golf bag. I keep a golf club in there just in case the airlines ask me about my clubs—not kidding. Also, I’ve been working on something new with Odyssey that I am excited about but I can’t spill the beans on it just yet. More to come soon!
The Odyssey travel tool makes bicycle maintenance on trips so simple as well. It literally has everything I need to build my bike up and take it apart for the next trip. It is incredibly handy to have while on the road.
GI: Since you’re on the road a lot, I’m sure you’ve learned some tricks for packing your gear. Anything you’d care to share?
GY: Totally. I use cardboard and duct tape to protect my bike parts from baggage handlers. I make a cover for the head tube of my frame, my grips and my forks and bearings. It really helps to ensure my bike arrives at the destination in one piece and ready to assemble.
GI: Is there any trend in gear or technology that you’re really excited about right now?
GY: Anything that helps me stay connected with my family, friends, sponsors, and community. Unfortunately, my iPhone doesn’t run forever so I’ve been using this Lenmar power pack for a couple of years. It gives about 8 charges on my phone and doesn’t take up much space.
GI: A good power pack is essential when you hit the road these days for sure. Anything else you’d like to share with Gear Institute Readers?
GY: Yeah! When you’re at the airport, don’t crowd the plate at baggage claim. If you don’t see your bag on the belt, take a step back. Everyone benefits.
GI: Good advice Gary. Thanks for your time and good luck in the season ahead.