2014 BMW Motorrad GS Trophy

The BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2014 – the longest, biggest, most technical ever – is over.

The fourth edition brought together 16 teams (48 riders plus 16 journalists) representing 19 nations for a seven-day, over 1300-mile trek through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, as found in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.

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The riding was in parts extreme, chasing narrow rocky tracks high into the mountains, fording rivers, threading through mist-cloaked forests on muddy two-tracks and chasing through dust-clouds on fast gravel pistes. And with temperatures ranging from -4º to 24ºC this was a cooler GS Trophy than any before.

The start came at the Kananaskis Guest Ranch, in Exshaw, Alberta at 8 a.m. on the morning of September 7. The first day would prove to be a long one – as were most – and would see all the competitors both soaked and muddied by the finish, having come from their first special stage late in the afternoon: ‘Broken Bridge’. In all there were 20 special stages spread over the seven days.

The biggest GS Trophy yet, with over 130 people (riders, marshals, medics, organizers and more), the Canadian wilderness experience ensured there were plenty of tough days for all. As ever, the motorcycles – BMW R 1200 GS and GS Adventure – proved unstoppable, even after some had been cast inadvertently off banks, into ravines.

By September 13, seven days after they set off, the GS Trophy riders were back in Exshaw, having encountered bears, wolves, coyote, elk and deer along the trail, having endured cold days and much colder nights and having come to know the mountainous majesty of the Rockies. And through so many new friendships, with each other, with the Canadian locals, the riders had again found and reinforced the GS Spirit.

Team CEEU wins

For the first time ever in GS Trophy history there was a runaway victor – Team CEEU (Central Eastern European Union). They took the win on day one and while they would occasionally relinquish the odd day victory they never let go of the overall lead, in fact building on it every day to finish with an impressive 49-point advantage.

Team South Africa, a young dynamic team full of energy and spirit, gave the victors the toughest opposition and by consistently placing in the top-three throughout the week were ready to strike should Team CEEU falter – only they didn’t. Team France took the final place on the podium. As in 2012, this was a flamboyantly talented team and again they were a team that was always eager to help others.

Team CEEU, always quietly confident, were delighted with their victory. Karel Řeháček: “This week has gone by so fast, but it has felt like the best memory of my life, it has been incredible. Within our team we have a good spirit, we have become friends and it turns out we are very good at this kind of competition!

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2016

With the completion of the 2014 GS Trophy so we look forward to the next. In 2016 will come the fifth GS Trophy, where and exactly when is yet to be decided, but it’s sure to be every bit as exciting, as challenging as the four to date. And ahead of that will come the qualifiers.

The first has already been scheduled, with the German and Alps team set to be decided at the GS Trophy Germany qualifier held in conjunction with Touratech Travel Event at Niedereschach in June 2015. Qualifiers for other countries are sure to be scheduled soon, so for those keen to participate in the next International GS Trophy the time to start preparing and practicing is now – and check in with your local BMW team for the dates of the qualifiers. The adventure continues…

2014 BMW GS Trophy – Quotes

Taro Mitzutani / Team Japan

“It’s been an awesome week for Team Japan, for the last three GS Trophies we have always finished last. So our mission this time was to get out of that! And we did it! But I found that really that wasn’t our mission. Participating in this event, enjoying ourselves, getting to know these people from all over the world – that was a our real mission. I’m so happy that we were so successful in that.

“Our highlight was today, was yesterday – was in fact every day; these nine days we’ve lived every moment, they will always be precious to me, I will keep them in my mind for the rest of my life. And I want to keep these relationships with these friends, I want them to visit me and I’d like to visit them. This experience will be my lifelong treasure.”

Luca Viglio / Team Italy

“My team have enjoyed this experience so much. They were not so happy about the final result (16th – last)! But if there has to be a winner then there has to be a loser – and here we are! [laughs] The guys, I think they felt a little bit too much the pressure of the competition, they enjoy a lot every day, but in the specials they felt the pressure.”

Markus Eichberger / Team Germany

“It was a great week in a great country, with nice people, good roads, incredible bikes – all is super. We’ve really enjoyed riding the smaller roads and trails on the top of the mountains, it’s the most fun to ride on these roads, and in Germany it’s not possible to ride gravel, only on road. The scenery has been amazing too – one morning we were by a small lake, so still it was like a mirror to the mountains, it was incredible.

“Everyone is so friendly too. France were great, they helped us, and the Italian guys too. And the Mexicans! We love the noise they make! And Leo was an amazing character. “

Vladimir Gavrilov / Team Russia

“It’s been a really cool week, special thanks to the marshals, because of them we have the possibility to ride fast but safe. Safety-extreme I call it!

“Everything is good, everyday a high point. It’s been brilliant, I’ve enjoyed the teamwork. I remember the navigation test on day two, we went into that test together with the team from USA and at the finish one of the guys from USA was so tired he could barely walk, so two of our guys helped him to the finish. To share a moment like that was really cool.”

John Crockett / Team UK

“Everyday has been a highlight, I never thought you could have a riding experience like this off-road, for hours on end, in the UK at best we can have is 20 miles at a time but here it’s hours on end of glorious riding, it’s brilliant.

“I can’t put words to this, it’s unbelievable. I’ve never been to Canada before, it’s great. And it’s like one big family. BMW have put a really good show together here, how they’re going to top this in two years time – they’ve got a job on their hands because this has been out of this world. I’ll never do anything like this again, this is honestly a once in a lifetime deal.”

Vincent Biau / Team France

“This has been an amazing experience, meeting all these people from different countries and the landscape in Canada has been incredible. Everyday a new challenge, it’s just so good!

“I think the GS is a community, we’re happy to help, it’s important to be there for each other. I’ve enjoyed time with every team, with the latino teams they’re good fun and coming from the south of France I understand their mentality. But with every team there’s a new joy!”

Ruan De Lange / Team South Africa

“It was an absolute joy. We’ve waited a year and half for this (since qualifying) – it was worth every minute of that wait. We’ve met so many good people, lovely guys, excellent riders – it was absolutely fantastic.

“It’s pretty indescribable, too. All I can say to those guys who are wondering should they do it next time, is go for it, it is an absolute festival of fun. This can’t compare to any other event, it’s way tougher, way longer, way harder, we’re talking long-long hours, but worth every minute spent here.”

Cassio De Oliveira Kossatz / Team Brazil

“It’s amazing to meet these guys from all over the world – different cultures, different riders, styles and everything – it’s very good. It´s always good to exchange cultures, I met people like the Koreans and Japanese who are way different to us and yet we get along and have a good time.

“I learn a lot from the marshals too, they have so much experience, I was watching one today and he was riding amazingly, so I try to learn from him, to draw from that experience.

“Finally, we are from Brazil. We didn’t expect the snow, the riding in –2 and –3ºC but having experienced that, that’s going to change my life. Now in Brazil I will ride in the winter – I don’t have an excuse not to anymore!”

Julian Quiroga / Team Argentina

“The GS Trophy has been so much fun. The first two days were really bad for us, as a team we don’t know each other, but by the third day we’d become more like friends, to know each other and start to have fun, and with that we managed to climb to fourth place! If you have fun, you will go higher and higher in the positions. This was amazing.

“I have a lot of new friends now too, I’m so happy to have made friends from all around the world. And Canada was amazing, they have a really good place to ride here, amazing, really friendly, I’m really happy to have come here and got to know Canada.”

Blair Young / Team USA

“It’s been so fast paced with miles and miles and miles and miles of roads, dirt, asphalt and beautiful scenery – clear waters, beautiful skies – it´s hard to remember it all.

“The best bit was hanging out with people from all the different countries. It goes without saying I like motorcycling, because I like motorcycling! But coming in a close second are all the cool people you get to meet and hang out with, and share experiences with. You’re by yourself when you’re riding but at the end of the trail you talk about it all with friends, you’re sharing same experiences. It’s a great thing.”

“Generationally too, the mix has been fantastic. I have absolutely loved getting to know young Ryan (Dudeck – Team USA journalist) this week, it’s been a real pleasure hanging out with him. You know, we’ve got some guys here in their 60s, some in their 20s, lots of different ages but everybody is here with the same purpose and that makes it a great event.”

Diego Perez Gavilán Echartea / Team Mexico

“Incredible, I’ve never experienced something like this, we’ve seen things I can’t imagine. I think Canada is one of the best places to ride a motorcycle and thanks to all the team at BMW that did a wonderful job, this week has to be one of the most amazing weeks of my life I cannot describe how amazing it was. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful trip.

“It’s been an intense week, too, every day we woke at 5 or 5.30am, having gone to sleep at 11 – that’s a long week, but one of the best weeks of my life.”

Camilo Andres Patiño / Team Latin America

“We rode 2300km and it was beautiful: rivers, mountains, almost three times a day up and down the mountains. It was difficult for the muscles only, pushing a heavy motorcycle, but we know how to ride, in the tests it was okay! The cold was really bad, though – this is new to us, it was freezing, we were wearing two pairs of socks, so many clothes to not let the cold in! This morning the tent was frozen with ice – wow!

“And we enjoyed meeting everybody. We rode with different countries each day and that changes the experience, it’s a good experience.”

Matt Wareing / Team Canada

“We’ve had more fun than we could ever have imagined. The people – every single last man has been virtually like a brother, we all felt like a big huge family. I’ve made more friends in one week than I’ve made in a lifetime. It’s just been a fantastic experience, one that I will take to my grave!

“The trails Pat Horan and Tomm Wolf set out for us have been fantastic. I’ve been so proud of this country, the terrain, the trails, words fail me. Cory (Hanson) has now downloaded the tracks and we’re coming back – we’re going to relive this again and again!”

Thomas Ringler / Team Alps

“An amazing week, we’ve had a lot of fun, in the team and whole groups together. And we had a nice surprise here on the final day – finishing sixth, we hoped for a top-10, yesterday we were 12th, so 6th for us is a big surprise!

“It’s a little bit difficult to find one highlight, the whole week was a highlight, if only one then it was for two days we rode through the highest mountains, an amazing ride, not easy but much fun to ride.”

Ahn Duk Hyun / Team Korea

“I can’t explain just how good this has been, I haven’t been in such a good party ever. The experience is amazing. And now we are tired – it’s been a long week, we’ve crashed many times but learnt so much. And I hope we will pass on our knowledge so that next time Team Korea will be stronger. And I hope as well, like us, they will find so many friends.”

Karel Řeháček / Team CEEU

“The GS Trophy has shown me that people are the same, whether they are from Canada, Korea or the Czech Republic, we are all very alike. When you like riding off-road, enjoy riding the GS, then the feeling, the enjoyment, the sharing, is the same for all nations. And even in competition you can make such strong friendships. We have won twice – we’ve won the competition, but also so many friendships. An incredible week, I only wish I could do it all over again!”

The BMW R 1200 GS – Unstoppable

The BMW R 1200 GS proved more than up to the challenge. The riders reveled in the GS’s versatility and adjustability – seat heights were raised and lowered, screens too, handlebars rolled forwards and back, suspension preload electronically raised and lowered, and the riders were choosing every mode from Rain to Enduro Pro.

And given the often extreme terrain plenty were crash-tested, repeatedly. Only one bike failed to complete the distance – after being ridden into a tree (the rider was uninjured). All other bikes, following a fall were put back on their wheels and finished the week with just patch-repairs. There were no mechanical failures in nearly 250,000km (combined distance) of riding.

Here’s what a few of the riders thought of the bikes:

Ruan De Lange: “I am at a loss for words to describe the bike – it held up through everything, and we threw everything at it that Canada has to offer. I cannot see any faults with the GS, let’s be honest, it’s fantastic!”

Matt Wareing: “The bikes have performed flawlessly, unbelievable power, unbelievable balance, the bike is incredible for its size. Never have I ridden something so big that’s felt so small, it’s just wow!”

Luca Viglio: “I have an R 1200 GS at home, the last of the air-cooled GS, and I love it – and I was not so convinced about the new one. In the road use I was sure it was very good, but not so convinced about its off-road capabilities – when BMW called it the ultimate riding machine I thought that was going a bit far, too much. But after the last seven days, after this GS Trophy experience, I can say they are right!”

2014 BMW Motorrad GS Trophy North America Final Standings:

BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2014 Final Standings:
1 CEEU 276 points
2 South Africa 227
3 France 198
4 Argentina 182
5 USA 174
6 Alps 160
7 Russia 158
7 Latin America 158
9 Canada 153
10 UK 142
11 Germany 136
12 Mexico 125
13 Korea 124
14 Japan 120
15 Brazil 117
16 Italy 116