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What Exactly is the BMW GS Trophy?

BMW GS Trophy

The fourth edition of the BMW Motorrad GS Trophy is currently underway in the mountainous region of the Canadian Rockies.

This year’s event consists of 48 riders from 19 nations, and the riders will compete over 1200 miles throughout the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

But what exactly is the BMW GS Trophy? Firstly, it’s not a race but an extremely tough competition that challenges some of the top adventure riders from around the world.

But there’s more; we put together a small report courtesy of BMW Motorrad that answers all the questions.

What is the BMW GS Trophy?

The GS Trophy is a celebration of the spirit of the BMW GS motorcycle, bringing together those elements of leisure, adventure and challenge that this bike engenders. The North America 2014 event is the fourth edition of the GS Trophy, the previous editions took place in South America in 2012, South Africa in 2010 and Tunisia in 2008. This edition will see 16 teams, comprising 48 riders from 19 nations, competing.

The GS Trophy will see the competitors ride nearly 2000 km over seven days as they cross the mountainous region of the Canadian Rockies through the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. The event is not a race but a team competition, pitching the international contingent against each other in a series of special tests – not all are riding tests. With the competitors camped nightly in a bivouac the event also fosters a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie.

GS Trophy oganizer Tomm Wolf says “It is a fantastic country for adventure. It’s very peaceful, but also very rough and tough in places, especially up in the Rocky Mountains. The support has been great from BMW Motorrad Canada and I know we’ll have very nice landscapes, huge forests and many great riding opportunities when the Trophy comes to town.

“Canada is definitely the perfect country for GS riders – in the time you can ride a motorcycle there! There are huge areas with no people, very nice gravel roads and of course the Rocky Mountains. I’m always concerned to try and keep the level as high as previous GS Trophies and I’m sure we’re going to have a fantastic event yet again.”

The event begins on September 6, 2014 when the competitors will arrive at the event HQ in Calgary for a program of rider briefings, bike allocations and media meetings. The competition itself started at 7 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, and will end on Sept. 13.

Where does it take place?

The riders of the GS Trophy are set to enjoy a fantastic outdoor experience as they ride the Canadian Rockies through Alberta and British Columbia.

With a low rural (human) populations many wild species prosper here and the riders may well encounter all manner of fauna, from the magnificent if somewhat worrying grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, even mountain lions, through to more “passive” mammals such as moose, elk and marmots. there’s world class coarse fishing to be had here – if the riders find the time!

The ride will stay predominantly in the mountains – so delivering coniferous forests, glaciers, lakes and even hot springs, but it won’t be lost on the riders that Alberta is a prairie province, part of the great plains of North America (Alberta borders Montana and North Dakota) and that brings cultural links to the past, remembering the Plains Indians and the cowboy culture that followed – they may well find a surprise or two on that account…

The region’s more modern history brings to mind oil – for this underpins so much of the region’s economy, while Calgary is remembered by many for hosting the Winter Olympics of 2010, and tourism has become a significant local industry in itself.

Above all this is an adventure, and once up in the mountains – and off the beaten track – the riders are going to experience plenty of that!

The Challenge

The GS Trophy is not a race. But it is a competition and so the teams will be tested, not only in their riding skills, but in broader challenges that will fully engage their intellectual as well as physical capacities.

With overnight bivouacs followed by early starts and long days in the saddles (in the order of 300km), with so much of the riding on gravel and single-track, endurance will be a significant factor in the event. So will be navigation and teamwork – in the environments the riders will be riding through it’ll be imperative – for safety’s sake – that they travel in groups. Along the route the competitors will also face up to three special per day (details of which will be revealed as the competitors meet them for themselves).

Wild country also throws up wild challenges, tracks do not have road signs and rivers do not always have bridges. The successful team will be respectful of their environment, sympathetic to their machinery and understanding of teammates.

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