GS Trophy 2018: Day 3, Canyon Delight

GS Trophy 2018: Day 3, Canyon Delight

Today’s stage was effectively a tour with no special tests. A generous time allowance allowed the competitors to make the most of the scenery as they rode. By the end of the day all were voicing complete satisfaction as Mongolia turned magnificent. Most notably the GS riders appreciated the breathtaking Dungeene Canyon where the riders rode along the gravel river bed for 12 miles (20km) between rock cliffs 300 feet (100m) high and sometimes only a dozen feet (5m) apart! And then the biggest surprise – finding one section of the river frozen (making for a tricky crossing!).

After this, the course took a short climb up onto the Yucca Plateau, again a surprise, for within minutes the riders had transitioned from a deep gorge to a high plain. A refuel in the village of Bayandalai reminded the riders that this was Mongolia, a sparsely populated remote country. They lined-up for the one pump operated by the one elderly Mongolian lady outside the one rendered building on the edge of the village, most of the other buildings being yurts (also known as gers), save for a school building. All roads here are unpaved.

The 60 miles (100 km) from here to the finish at Camp Gobi Erdene was – as ever – entire different. Instead of a high plateau the riders found themselves weaving along a vast flood plain between two mountain ridges – and such geology meant rock was mixed with the sand, adding yet more technicality to the ride. And finally, to the west of the trail rose sand dunes which were beautifully lit in the late afternoon sun. And what a stunning end to the day, the GS riders pitching their Marmot tents at the gateway to the sands of the Gobi Desert.

So far from being ‘boring’, day three has proved to be the most enjoyable yet. While the terrain continues to be difficult, the GS riders are adapting, learning. The Mongolian terrain deserves respect, but for all that it demands it is repaying with an experience so rich, so unique that the riders are having the rides of their lives.

Quotes:

Francisco Lopez, Team Latin America: “Today was awesome, it was great to watch the desert, to see the dunes, and we had good trails today, we had fun. As today’s stage had been altered and made a liaison we thought it was going to be boring, but it wasn’t, it was really interesting, we had grass, gravel and sand – so you needed your skills too. The canyon was beautiful, we woke to a temperature of 19ºC [66ºF] so to ride into there and find ice and then to go back out onto a vast plain to the warmth of the day – it was beautiful.”

Jamie Jones, Team Canada: “Out of 10, I’d have to rate this experience as a 12 or 13! Certainly I’ve never done anything like this before, for me it’s awesome to come here to Mongolia, never having been here, it’s really cool to see the terrain and the country, it’s amazing the expanse, how it keeps going and going. In Canada we have space but we don’t have the trails that just lead off the road everywhere, unmarked and gravel, it’s really different. And when we find these Mongolians living out in the wilderness I’m asking myself what are they doing here – it’s taken us three and a half hours to ride out this far. It’s just normal for them, but they must have a good grocery supplier for food – and water! And I love how the animals are out there on their own, and they seem to just hang around, there are no fences but they don’t take off, you couldn’t have that back home.”

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2018 Central Asia.

Day Two overall standings:

1 Korea 77 points
2 South Africa 68
3 Germany 56
4 France 54
5 Latin America 53
6 USA 48
7 UK 44
7 Argentina 44
9 Japan 38
9 Russia 38
11 Canada 35
11 China 35
13 Australia 33
14 Mexico 31
15 Southeast Asia 29
16 India 24
17 Ausamerica (female team) 15
18 Euafrica (female team) 5

Day three standings will be announced tomorrow.

 

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