4 years ago

Dirt and Trail July 2018 issue 2

  • Text
  • Durability
  • Bikes
  • Riders
  • Suspension
  • Enduro
  • Motorcycles
  • Models
  • Racing
  • Clutch
  • Trophy

How the bug bit… This

How the bug bit… This was a dream for me. I bought my first BMW GS in 2006, a R 1100 GS - all I could afford at that stage but a R 1150 GS Adventure soon followed. With no riding dirt experience and always on the cautious end, my mate Herman Kirstein and I decided that it was time for a course. The Intermediate course at Country Trax Off-Road Academy. Best choice I have made. Understanding and practicing the basics just boosted the confidence and then going off-road just made it a blast. All worth it. After seeing some mates competing in the 2010 GS Trophy here in SA, the dream came to life again. 2012 was time for an Advanced Course. The Country Trax Advanced course is a 4 day training course that pushes and challenges you as a rider with all different obstacles and exercises. While attending the course, you think to yourself, why am I doing this? But looking back now, the experience and skills not only make you a much better, safer rider but there is a riding discipline and respect to fellow riders that you would understand once you have done this course. Thus, all, or most of the last 8 years of International GS Trophy participants and teams are all survivors of this course… Herman soon became an instructor at Country Trax. I asked if I could join for the weekend as I just needed some time away and I took my R 1150 GS Adventure with me. I took some pictures of the participants and the next thing I was there once a month taking pics, picking up cones and bikes. My riding skills were improving day by day and many many hours were spent on the GS. The challenge was on to participate in the 2015 qualifier for 2016 International GS Trophy in Thailand. I got the call from Jan asking if I wanted to take part in the BMW International Instructors Academy course that was happening in February 2015. An opportunity of a life time. And experiencing the skill of John, Charl and Byron it was a good call. They went on to become the world Champions in 2016. With the BMW Instructors course done, the dream of attending as a competitor in the International GS Trophy was forfeited, but the journey to follow was unbelievable… Over the next 3 years I was privileged to attend the BMW Mottorad days in Germany with Country Trax as an Instructor. There, you get to meet and spend time with the people involved in the BMW Motorrad family, from the designers, to the management from BMW Motorrad. This event welcomes over 40 000 motorcycles every year from all over the world. This year it is 6-8 July and we will be there again. In 2016 the South African Trophy winning team was there and we had an awesome trip through the Alps on the motorcycles. The announcement was made in February 2017 that the next International GS Trophy would be hosted in Mongolia. The only reference we had to Mongolia and motorcycles was the Long Way Round series that put GS on the map. The excitement was growing in SA and the local qualifiers 74 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE JULY 2018

were in progress all over the world. This year it was the turns of Mark Dickinson, Eugene Fourie and Chris Meyer as well as two SA ladies Linda Steyn Boddington and Ezelda Van Jaarsveld. (You’d have seen all of this in previous issues). In November 2017 the two SA ladies had to compete against 23 other International ladies to get a spot of 6 to go to Mongolia. And so they did. This event was also my dream come true. I was contacted a few weeks before by Tomm Wolf, the father of GS Trophy to ask if I would be available for a month as a Marshal in the GS Trophy. Of course it was a YES!!!!! BMW Management had to make the final selection of 18 Marshals worldwide. Few weeks later I got the Invitation letter. It was a go but still so unreal. A few months later, I received the bag with all the kit, rally suite etc etc – Game ON!. 14 May was the departure date. I joined Jan du Toit, Gert Becker and Marchant Maasdorp as the 4 South African Marshals on the GS Trophy. Nerves were at a peak as I soon would be joining so many respected men and woman in the business. After a long journey to Ulaanbaatar, we met the rest of the crew - and it was clear that it was not about individuals, but a team effort to get a job done. We left the Hotel and swopped our rooms for the traditional ‘Gers’ or yurts at the Chingisiin Khuree camp, near Ulaanbaatar. Some paperwork, medicals and presentations. I must say BMW is very, very professional in this matter. We then got our personalized bikes with our names on and this feeling is indescribable. It was quite the moment. Prepping on bikes done and time to drink a local beer and discuss the next days agenda… The marshals are responsible to lead groups from 2 countries from the start to finish on each day. Every day the teams are swapped. They also set the pace. With the continuous changing terrain of every day’s route it is not an easy job. With the participants on a mission to go flat out, safety is the biggest concern for BMW. For that reason there is a sticker on the handlebar #itsnotarace just to remind them about this. The real race starts when they arrive at the different special stages. Normally there are 2 or 3 stages per day. The special stages consist of different exercises to test each participant’s skill on the bike as well as some exercises like Navigation by GPS. This was the job for Gert and I. We were two of four marshals responsible to set up and score the special stages. Every morning we would leave an hour or so before the participants to build the stages. The other two marshals then proceed to the next stages and build there, they were both from Germany. Days were long with 10-12 hours out riding. But so worth it. A team of 23 people, marshals, film crew and photographer embarked on a 12 day scouting of the route to set up and plan the special stages that would determine the scoring of the teams and just to get familiar with the Mongolian terrain. A total of 2800 km covered in 12 days. This is what it was like – and I break it into two sections – the scouting and setting up – and then the participation. Day 1 (Scouting) (470 km) started slowly with a 100 km tar section. It’s like riding in Lesotho, you have to look for all kinds of livestock, cars overtaking and potholes. But we were looking forward to hitting the gravel. And what a surprise it was. You start straight into some loose sand. We could not deflate the tyres as the terrain changes all the time from gravel to sand to rocky areas. Momentum and positive throttle is key. Stand up, Look up and open up! So 1.8 BAR front and rear was the limit. All 120 BMW R 1200 GS Rallye Bikes with the Sport Suspension are fitted with the Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres. I have never been a fan of the Karoo but man was I impressed. 2800km x 23 bikes and no punctures. Ok except for a nail on one of the ladies bikes. During trophy with participants: Special stages for the day were firstly trail riding over and between rocks. 160 km further, they arrived, to do a Navigation test. Each team gets a GPS. We give them the first Coordinate point and from there they have to find 4 more. Each one leads to the next. Also on each post for the next coordinates there would be letters - like “IKE”, 3 or 4 letters per post. At the end it would form a sentence. At the end they had 20 minutes to complete the task. Get all 4 the points with a proof of a picture as well give the sentence “Make life a Ride” and they would get a time credit bonus. Team Korea was killing it with a time of 16 min and all the bonus points. This was a good start for them leading the GS Trophy early. DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE JULY 2018 75