Bruce Wilson, Motorcycle Sport & Leisure’s Deputy Editor is with the three riders making up Team GB in the BMW GS Trophy – the ultimate two-wheeled adventure.
Staged bi-annually, it sees amateur racers from around the globe qualify for a spot in BMW’s prestigious R1200GS fuelled event, covering thousands of kilometres of gruelling off-road terrain. This year it’s being hosted in Canada and there are 16 teams entered from around the world, taking on an abundance of dynamic challenges, which remain a secret until the moment the competitors arrive for the task. Physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, the GS Trophy is no game for half measures…
Today started on a real high, quite literally. One thousand feet up, to be exact, blasting along 62km of abandoned railway line. Take your eye off the ball for one second and you faced veering off the narrow trail and falling to your peril below. Alertness was essential, along with good control and a bit of luck. One guy wasn’t so lucky. He lost control of his bike and ploughed head first over the cliff edge. By a stroke of luck, he got collected by a tree and his bike lodged itself too. It was a rude awakener for the whole group of 92 riders, each as amazed as the next that the crashing rider was both alive and unscathed.
The views from up here were amazing, edging alongside a crystal clear river below. We were miles from anywhere and the experience was heightened having powered through a kilometre long pitch dark tunnel, shortly before taking to a pure-wood constructed bridge that moved edgily with every rotation of my GS’s wheels. The drop below was of several hundred feet and as the route went on both the tunnels and bridges got bigger and even more exhilarating. Along this path we undertook the first challenge of the day. Skirting around a cliff’s edge, the teams were made to push a bike both around a technical perimeter route, aiming to achieve the fastest time on the narrow and rocky path. Team GB performed a treat and recorded the third fastest time overall, lifting everyone’s spirits and gaining the respect of the other teams who watched the performance with real admiration.
The railroad eventually descended alongside the river, where an old sawmill dominated the river’s mouth, complete with chain linked logs. From there we had a quick spell on the road before finding ourselves tearing along a dusty forest trail. Unfortunately, it was here that I witnessed a second accident, when a competitor impressively backflipped his GS having left the edge of the route. Four days in and we’re clearly all feeling a little tired. We ache and feel simple tasks so much more challenging than they’d normally be. But this is the nature of the GS Trophy and while we are beginning to feel a little second hand, the smiles remain completely planted on our faces, aided by amazing rides like the last blast we took today up the side of a mountain on the smallest of trails. There were 28 uphill hairpins in all, and the metre wide path was littered with rocks and fallen trees which make the riding even more challenging. Personally, I loved every second of the climb and figured it had undoubtedly been the best ascent of the entire trip.
Making our way over to Nelson, the teams were faced with their second and final challenge of the day. Cultural in nature, the guys had to throw axes, saw logs and roll timber too. I bagged the latter task and found myself rolling a log across a set distance in the ninth fastest time. It was exhausting and the other challenges looked the same too. We did ok overall and it was disappointing at the end of the day to hear that despite a strong performance yesterday (3rd and 5th place finishes) and a great effort today (3rd this morning), we’ve slipped back in the overall standings from 10th to 11th place. It turns out the lack of likes on our photo competition image is to blame, but that’s just how it goes. We were told we had to take another today and figured we’d see if we could squeeze the four men and a little lady on one our bikes. As you can see, we managed it and we hope you like the image. Make sure you vote for our team in the photo competition by clicking here and clicking the ‘voting tool’ at the top right.
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