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International GS Trophy 2020 Oceania (Live blog)

The 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy changed in the biggest way today as the South Island served up a sizable new challenge: mountains! The North Island was never anything less than hilly, but today in the South Island the GS riders found themselves tackling two mountains, riding on proper mountain tracks, not gravel roads. As promised, the riding intensity had been raised to a new level.


The morning started with a steep and winding climb up Mount Richmond, 20km of rocky ascent through native forest that took the riders above the cloud base before reaching the 754m Maungatapu Saddle where they found the first test of the day: the Emirates Challenge. In this test all the riders from each team had to ride a tricky trials section among the rock and bush while remembering three key flight details to be relayed to the marshal at the finish: flight number, boarding time and seat number!

The ride down the mountain was no less tricky and for sure the riders were grateful for the coffee stop in Nelson (the capital of the Tasman Bay region), known for its spectacular sea fishing as much as the local fruit and wine cultures. However, the coffee break was soon forgotten when the riders found themselves fighting their way up and over yet another mountain. This one was even more technical than the first, as they headed west to Murchison the town at the head of the Buller Gorge – the only access route to the west coast through the top of the island’s mountain ranges.

After such a tough morning, the afternoon took on a more reflective attitude as the riders got to enjoy the spectacular ride on highway through the Gorge, to come out upon the west coast and the Tasman Sea. Here the riders found a stunning ocean road bordered bylimestone cliffs and rainforest dotted with New Zealand’s unique and beautiful Nikau palm trees.

The riders´ final destination was Punakaiki Beach, made famous by its tall limestone cliffs often called the pancake rocks for their distinctive strata – and a sight of wonder on high tide when a blow hole spouts sea water many metres into the air. And here came the second test of the day: the Rab Challenge. This one brought many a laugh as the teams had to run across the beach, remove their boots, unpack and climb into their Rab sleeping bag, then reverse out, pack the bag, slip on their boots and run back to their next teammate.

In all it had been a full-on day that challenged the extreme riding capabilities of so many of the riders – and while more than a few had fallen, they all got up and got on, to finish the day with a great sense of achievement. A perfect day.
 
Lisa Taylor, Int. Female Team II: 

“Today was totally beautiful, the mountains were full of green trees and vegetation, and coming from the desert of Arizona I don’t often get to see this much green! When we climbed the mountain to the first special stage the clouds had settled below us and it was absolutely beautiful. Then as the day progressed we found ourselves riding along this amazing shoreline, with waves crashing onto the beach, it was again absolutely beautiful. And through all this beauty we were riding our bikes, having the greatest time.”

Manuel Febres, Team Mexico:  

“The Int. GS Trophy has been a great event, I enjoy every day – great riding, great people – and it’s impressive how BMW Motorrad can get all these people from all around the world to join in this event – it’s been the best experience of my life (note: Manuel is just 19 years old!). But this day has been the day I’ve enjoyed the most, it’s been so technical and the mountains are testing to ride – but I really enjoy this kind of riding. A great day!”
Shakeel Basha, Team India: 

“Today was great, I loved it, the best off-road riding I’ve done in my life. And I say this after I made a mistake going down one of the descents and crashed! It’s been very tiring, so I don’t always like the highway riding, I get dozy and I’ll be thinking of food or home, but on the trail I’m always occupied, thinking ‘don’t crash!‘ Team India are very proud to be back this year, we have a goal to improve on last time, when we were last. But we will improve. You see, we don’t ride adventure like they do in other countries, so we are learning every time. So we’ll keep coming back and improving, until we can challenge South Africa!”

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020 Oceania

Day Five overall standings: 

1 South Africa 277

2 France 266

3 Italy 247

4 South Korea 233

5 Russia 212

6 Netherlands 208

7 Brazil 205

8 Australia 192

9 USA 190

10 Argentina 186

11 Middle East 186

12 Latin America 185

13 Nordic 168

14 Mexico 165

15 UK 164

16 Japan 151

17 India 141

18 Malaysia 141

19 Thailand 136

20 Int. Female Team I 108

21 North Africa 106

22 Int. Female Team II 58

UPDATE: 02, 14 February

If day five of the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy had been upscaled, then day six was simply super-sized. The GS riders crossed the South Island west to east, riding 440 km over mountain passes and along the Canterbury Plain to reach Lake Tekapo, in the foothills of the Southern Alps, in the early evening. Along the way they encountered yet more mountain tracks, made multiple river crossings and, as Team Middle East were keen to point out, they’d been through that famous Kiwi experience: four seasons in one day.

The GS Trophy riders started the day as they always do, with a 5:30 am call to breakfast ready for a 7 am start. They then enjoyed a dawn ride along the west coast, heading south from Punakaiki Beach toward the port town of Greymouth. The one test of the day came early, just half an hour from the start. In ‘Rent-a-Ride’ the teams were challenged to ride a trials course twice, with two different riders recording as near as identical times as they could manage. With no timing devices permitted it came down to the third member of the team to pace the riders. At the same time, of course, they needed to ride the course immaculately with no footing or stops. And as part of the course was also submerged, it was a tricky enterprise start-to-finish.

Test finished, the GS riders passed through the Victorian gold rush town of Greymouth (which latterly became a port, and a farming and timber town, although these days tourism is an equal contributor to the economy). From here the GS riders turned inland, taking Arthur’s Pass to cross the mountains and enter the Canterbury Plain, although first came the Canterbury High Country where dramatic limestone escarpments rose tall in testament to the significant seismic activity that regularly reshapes the South Island.

Gravel roads then brought the GS riders across the gentler Canterbury Plain where for the first time on this cross-islands adventure arable farming mixed with pastoral as sheep and cows grazed next to fields of wheat and barley – a gentle calm beauty after the drama of the mountains. After a late lunch in Geraldine, the GS riders then took to the hills again, riding through the sheep stations of the Mackenzie Country where they found technical riding in the rocky climbs and descents and challenge in the many water crossings, as rocks and loose stone unseated more than a few.

The day ended at Lake Tekapo, located almost plumb centre of the South Island. The lake is in fact a reservoir built in the 1970s – it takes its sparkling blue-green hue from the silica found in the glacial waters that feed it – and is part of an extensive hydro scheme that provides New Zealand with 85% of its total energy needs. Along with energy taken from geo-thermal sources, New Zealand is close to achieving a total renewable, sustainable energy supply. With riders arriving in camp after 6 pm it had been another 11 hours riding day. Although only one test was completed the riders were more than happy given the challenge of the day’s riding and the never-ending spectacular scenery.

 

Rider quotes:

Jorge Osorio, Team Middle East:

“What an amazing day! We start with a nice test, very technical. Then we rode up the mountain pass, we saw massive slopes with waterfalls and a huge viaduct – and shivered in the falling temperature! The views were like we’ve never seen before – beautiful. And then we came to this amazing off-road route where we crossed glacial rivers and were riding up really technical climbs, it was amazing. And through it all we got to experience what the Kiwi’s call ‘four seasons in one day’, we had the cold, the rain and now the sunshine. Incredible.”

Gleb Koltsov, Team Russia:

“I came here as the team journalist but after we lost one of the riders due to visa issues I’ve become a participant too! And making me a participant is like an adventure – a real adventure – because I didn’t expect to be here in this situation; I didn’t prepare, I’d never ridden the BMW F 850 GS before. So now I’m doing every challenge, it’s a real challenge for me – and very exciting, if exhausting when I have to write my story every evening. Today, we’ve had a typical day for us – where we start the first test with a fail! But after that we relax and feel the emotions of the ride. Today was a great route. Our marshal, Jean-Luc took us on the toughest route, with big hills and so many river crossings, this has probably made it the best day of the trip so far. So thank you to Jean-Luc, it’s been amazing.”

Isabela Londomo Rivas, Team Int. Female Team II:

“Today was incredible. Very long, 440 km I think, with a spectacular route with gravel, rocks, hills, lots of river crossings and all the time the views were amazing. Today we rode together with the second international female team and being the first to leave in the morning we made it our joint mission to make it first to the camp at the end of the day. And we did this. So okay, it’s not a race – but we won!”

 

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020 Oceania.

Day 6 overall standings:

1 South Africa 309

2 France 302

3 Italy 287

4 Brazil 260

5 South Korea 258

6 Netherlands 241

7 Russia 239

8 Middle East 217

9 Australia 215

9 Latin America 215

11 USA 211

12 Argentina 198

13 Japan 187

13 Mexico 187

15 Nordic 180

16 UK 172

17 India 166

18 Thailand 165

19 Malaysia 157

20 Int. Female Team I 127

21 North Africa 110

22 Int. Female Team II 98

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