After three consecutive high-mileage days, the BMW Motorrad GS Trophy riders today were allowed some respite with a less strenuous 143 miles (230km) stage distance planned. Only it wasn’t! The day again featured a ‘black run’ to properly test the riders’ technique and ended with a suitably physical Canadian theme – the ‘Logger Games’.
The departure time in Christina Lake came at a later 8am and the riders were visibly more rested, given the extra hour’s sleep. They were in good spirits too after the local community served them a traditional hearty Canadian breakfast. The interaction between the people of Christina Lake and the GS Trophy riders has certainly been one of many highlights of the trip so far.
On the trails the action came thick and fast. The first ride of the day followed the rail bed of the former Columbia and Western Railway track for the 47 miles (75 km) that link Christina Lake and Castlegar. Tracing a magnificent arc through the mountain valleys, the track is an off-road tourist route offering fantastic views of turquoise lakes and high mountains. However, thick dust clouds and occasional deep gravel sections saw a few riders take a fall, fortunately with no injury and only superficial damage to their bikes.
After 20 miles (30 km) of off-road heaven, they arrived at Special Stage 10 – Pioneer Bridge – where three team members and their team journalist had to push one of their BMWs down and up a tight, rocky path against the clock. The fastest time went to Team CEEU.
Continuing on the railroad trail for another 30 miles (45km), with its spectacular views and even a series of tunnels, the teams took a short road liaison before arriving at the day’s ‘black run’ – an intense zig-zagging climb through challenging terrain and dense foilage that had the GS riders whooping with delight on completion.
Then it was a dash towards the picturesque town of Nelson, where the ‘Logger Games’ special stage awaited on the shores of Lake Kootenay. Being in Canada, it was axe throwing, cross-cut sawing and log rolling challenges that were destined to set the men apart from the boys. And, perhaps unsuprisingly, Team Canada was one of the best, nearly bringing an overdue victory to the host nation. However, it was Team CEEU who was the overall winner, as well as the winner of the photo competition.
At Nelson, the Logger Games were watched by many visitors, who had arrived in town to see the GS Trophy in action and cheer on the participants. Among the supporters in the crowd were three former participants from the 2012 Trophy in South America. Chad Yoshitomi made the journey all the way from Alaska to cheer on Team USA, while Adrian Tobler, a Team Canada competitor from two years ago, arrived to support the host nation.
Another welcome arrival at the Trophy today in Nelson was Marc-André Octeau, who was also one of the Team Canada competitors from 2012. He was injured in the early stages of the South American GS Trophy. After missing the remainder of the Trophy, Marc contacted BMW Motorrad to see if he could come along and join part of this year’s ride.
“I must be one of the only guys to be associated with three different GS Trophies,” he said. “In 2010 I qualified for the team but then my wife became pregnant and because her ‘due date’ clashed with the Trophy, I had to give up my place in the team. Then in 2012, I managed to qualify for Team Canada again, but my Trophy dreams ended early after a heavy crash on the motocross special. And now here I am in 2014, coming back to the Trophy. The organizers have invited me to ride the final three days with them so I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do this.”
Today’s results were announced during dinner at the Kootenay Lakeview Lodge and while Team CEEU has significantly consolidated their lead at the top of the points table, tonight we’d like to focus on one of the newcomer teams, which is battling away at the other end of the leader board. “First of all, the GS Trophy is a lot of fun,” said Leonardo Noyola Vogel from Team Mexico. “The last three days have been great. We’ve made a lot of friends from around the world. Everyone is so friendly. It is very cool. It was a good day, we enjoyed the technical riding and we’re sure it’s going to be even better tomorrow.”
BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2014 Day 4 overall standings: