As has become somewhat of a tradition, BMW Motorrad Motorsport team riders planned an off-road GS ride after their impressive showing at the opening round of the 2012 Superbike World Championship season at Phillip Island in Australia. This trip would be different, however, since it was also used as on opportunity for the national press launch of the G650GS Sertão and therefore included a group of Australian motorcycle journalists. And while new recruit Marco Melandri – who saw his first WSBK race action on the BMW S1000RR and came away with a second place (the RR’s highest finish yet) – was there for his first ride aboard a GS, Leon Haslam had to skip the event to recuperate from the operation just three days before the races to put screws into his fractured tibia.
Grabbing the opportunity to take Leon’s place and discover the great Australian outdoors on a GS was Bernhard Gobmeier, Director of BMW Motorrad Motorsport. BMW Motorrad Australia Marketing Manager Miles Davis, who is no stranger to this magnificent part of the country, prepared a great route for the riders to enjoy. The group was also joined by 2011 Australian Superbike Champion, Glenn Allerton.
A world away from the high-pressure environment of world championship racing, this was pure motorcycling joy, GS style. In other words, a mixture of minor paved roads linking into hundreds of miles of off-road paradise, including small tracks and dirt roads snaking their way through dense Eucalyptus and Mountain Ash forests high up in the invigorating mountain air.
Fortunately the intense 104-degree heat of the weekend had been replaced by weather more conducive to enjoying the ride. Leaving Phillip Island the group headed east for lunch at Mount Baw Baw, mainland Australia’s most southerly ski resort. The conditions in the national park had become slippery with drizzle and a light fog giving the alpine scenery a touch of magic.
The G650GS Sertão, with its lightweight and usable power, made the ride easy. “The bike is easy to ride, with a wide spread of power and with good grip you can go anywhere in the right gear,” said a smiling Marco Melandri. “I’ve never ridden a GS before this but I want to get one back in Italy!”
The first day ended just out of the old gold mining town of Woods Point. Woods Point is a village lost in time and Marco Melandri was amazed. “It looks like it is not real, a movie set” said the 2011 WSBK championship runner-up as he explored the main street and the iconic pub.
After a break it was up to the Gap Getaway private hotel, perched on the top of the mountain above the town. It was a steep, slippery and very foggy climb, with a creek crossing but the first beers were soon going down standing in front of an old goldmine boiler that had been turned into a heater. With good food and good company, far away from the crowds, it was a perfect way to end the day’s two-wheeled adventure.
Unfortunately steady rain in the mountains the day before caused a change of plans for day two. “We were planning on riding to the top of the iconic Mount Terrible but it would have been too difficult and as we had to be back in Melbourne on time [so] we chose another interesting route with a few less steep climbs,” said Miles Davis. “That’s all part of riding a GS, being adaptable and working with the conditions.”
On the morning of day two the fog lifted, revealing the mountain scenery in all its pristine glory. Glenn Allerton, who like Marco was new to GS riding, was soon showing the way as the Sertãos were ridden along. The day went quickly and soon the group was heading back toward Melbourne. A stop at Marysville (a town that is being regenerated after the total destruction of the 2009 bushfires) was the start of the final leg home to BMW Group Australia headquarters in Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs.
“I had a lot of fun, it is a wonderful area,” said a tired but happy Bernhard Gobmeier at the end of the ride. “For me it was exotic with the eucalyptus forests, the landscape, the mountains and the roads. All very interesting.”
For Marco it was an experience he will never forget. “When you think back it is always fun, even the difficult times, including the rain, the fog and the slippery surfaces. I had so much fun riding and it is sad it is finished but it is time to go home and get ready for the next race,” said the 29-year-old Italian, who will be looking forward to racing in front of his home round at the next round of the WSBK championship at Imola in Italy on April 1st.
MXTV was there and shot this short video of the event: