Threatening skies and thick, humid air did not dampen the spirits of GS Trophy Team USA members during a special two-day training program held at BMW Motorrad USA’s Rider Academy at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “Rider training at the BMW Performance Center is exceptional,” explained lead instructor Harald Schmidt, who organized the event. “I think the U.S. team will benefit from the skills they learned here.”
The GS Trophy, which began in 2008 and takes place every two years, has been described as the ultimate motorcycle adventure challenge. This year, 64 riders comprising 16 international teams will compete in seven daily stages September 6-13 in the vast expanses of western Canada.
U.S. team members Blair Young, of Belmont, NC; Bobby Wooldridge, of Atlanta, GA; and Ben Profitt, of Apex, NC, earned their coveted team spots during a qualifying competition held in Spartanburg last year drawing more than 70 riders.
Joining the team and Rider Academy instructors were 2008 GS Trophy Team USA champions Jimmy Lewis and Jon Beck. During classroom sessions and outside on the course, the duo offered their first-hand insights on what to expect in the competition.
“The thing about this competition is you never know what to expect,” said Beck, who in addition to winning the first GS Trophy, has attended all of the other GS Trophy events as a photographer and journalist. “The organizers will literally invent challenges on the fly. You have to be ready for anything.”
“You need to be ready for it all,” Jimmy Lewis told the squad with an evil grin.
Members of the U.S. team were grateful for the training and eager to put their skills to the test in the upcoming competition. “I gained valuable insight from Jon and Jimmy about their previous GS Trophy experience,” commented Ben Profitt. “Since Jon has been to all three events, his knowledge is tremendous. Seeing his photos and hearing his stories helped calm my nerves about the unexpected things that can occur. The training was incredible. The staff at the BMW Performance Center helped our team tremendously.”
“The instructors showed us the importance of balancing the bike when in an awkward position before trying to ride off,” added teammate Blair Young. “We did a drill where we walked around the motorcycle keeping only one finger on the bike. That was a real eye-opener!”
Lead instructor Schmidt anticipates the U.S. Rider Academy providing continued support and training for future GS Trophy teams every two years. “We have a lot to offer here in Spartanburg,” he says. “The facility continues to expand and we have the best instructors in the country. I’m thrilled to be working with this year’s team and look forward to helping future teams bring home the trophy.”