BMW GS Trophy: Africa Day 3

2010 GS Trophy: Day 3

The night proceeding the 3rd day of the GS Trophy the organizers warned us-with relatively grave faces-that we would be encountering Mozambique’s infamous, wheel swallowing sand.

The next day started well enough, with a picturesque ride that took us to the first special section challenge of the day; a 3-kilometer team tow against the stopwatch. Much more tricky then it sounds.

One team member had to tow another with a tow-line over a course that skirted a water crossing and slippery embankment followed by a long uphill section.

Plenty of masterful displays of this fine art by the experienced enduro riders, at speed no less. Very impressive.

From there it was a long haul toward Mozambique and another long passport processing to enter the country. The Trophy’s guides stopped us for an extended water break toward the end of the day with good reason.

The last thirty kilometers of the day was over the deep sands of Mozambique. I quickly ascertained the warnings of the previous night were in no way exaggerated.

For stretched out before us was a narrow road of deep, wavering white sand tracks that disappeared into the distance.

Within minutes of hitting the long sand stretch that would carry us to the Indian Ocean riders were sinking wheels into the powdery white, flour-like sand. Soon the route was littered with fallen bikes.

It wasn’t a matter of if you were going to come off, but rather, when, and how many times. Nothing like falling down and having to pick yourself and your GS up to get the blood pumping. The first three times you can manage with a certain embarrassed gusto.

By the fifth, sixth, and seventh time, the GS starts to feel bloody heavy. Rule of the day was team work. Americans picking up South Africans, Spanish pulling Canadians out, Canadians in turn assisting the Italians, etc. etc. etc.

It was ride, crash, get up, move on, stop, help others, go, fall, all the way to the Indian Ocean. Needless to say, it was a very long 30-kilometers.

I gave up counting how many times I came off. Mostly silly little sand offs, which the guides later said don’t count as an off but merely "a kickstand incident." Although a few people suffered 3rd gear get-offs that had slightly more damaging repercussions to the human body.

At the end of it all, just when civilization was visible and I thought the sand was done with, we entered the final stretch of road to our campground.

This was a deeply grooved sand wash which quickly became lined with locals who could be heard laughing their heads off as this cadre of tired, dirty and dusty GS riders came wobbling through, feet paddling the deep sand in less then graceful precision.

There were great eruptions of laughter when a rider came off and got a face full of Mozambique sand in the kisser.

I was glad we could provide some entertainment for the locals, finding it all kind of funny until I came off in grand fashion, carrying a little bit of speed, directly in front of a crowd of women and children.

A few minutes later when we arrived at our campground on the shore of the Indian Ocean I have never been happier to shut off a motorcycle. I was beat. But there was adrenaline sustaining me.

I was pleased to have conquered the sand, the kind of personal accomplishment we motorcyclists revel in. That night, again, our little village of yellow dome tents, with its soundtrack of snoring, was a haven of deep slumber, the sand having taken it out of us.

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 1

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 2

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 3

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 4

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 5

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 6

2010 BMW GS Trophy: Day 7

In this series about the 2010 BMW GS Trophy, follow Ultimate MotorCycling writer Jeff Buchanan day-by-day as he takes on Africa aboard the venerable F 800 GS motorcycle. Each of the 10 countries competing had an embedded journalist and Buchanan was invited by BMW North America to ride with the U.S. enduro team.