Day five of the 2014 International GS Trophy was as action-packed as it gets, with spectacular off-road highlights, extremely testing specials, the surprise of a lifetime for one of the competitors and – in a first for the Trophy – a public reception where guests were invited to come along and see what the Trophy is all about.
Today was the first time the 2014 GS Trophy started and finished in the same place – Kootenay Lakeview Lodge – with a loop of approximately 125 miles (200 km) offering what competitors unanimously agreed was the best mix of riding so far this year. Highlights included a fantastic 28-mile (45-km) trail offering stunning views over glacial lakes, and a special stage called ‘The McDonald Turn’, where competitors had to get all four team members up a seemingly impassable steep climb on loose boulders, testing their skills to the limit.
There was little time to relax though, as the next part of the trail included ‘The Slide’, an extremely testing traverse then descent over a rock-strewn landslide. This was followed by the highlight of the day – the 28-switchback ascent of Sandon Pass – which was not for the faint-hearted as many of the competitors found. Special mention must go to the Italian team, who helped Team USA tow a stricken bike all the way to the top of the grueling course. The two teams arrived over an hour later, but were congratulated by the rest of the Trophy participants for their resourcefulness and teamwork.
The others who made it through the challenges in good time were able to take advantage of a full body soak at the famous Ainsworth Hot Springs resort on the way back to their camp, which was perfect for soothing their aching muscles. Then, waiting for them at the Kootenay Lakeview Lodge was the final special of the day – a multi-part skills test including wheel changing, trials riding and lifting more than 440 lbs. (200 kgs) of R1200GS over a raised tree trunk, all played out in front of an appreciative audience of VIP guests.
As the sun set over picturesque Balfour, guests, competitors, journalists and local dignitaries gathered for a special celebration of the GS lifestyle. There was much to celebrate, including the arrival of “One World. One R1200GS.” ‘ambassador’ Stephanie Rowe, who was flown in especially to meet the competitors and guests, much to the astonishment of her boyfriend Vincent Biau of Team France, who was expecting her to be thousands of miles away in London.
A tiring, but ultimately rewarding day ended with live music from rock band Frankie McQueen who had driven eight hours from Calgary to Balfour to be part of the GS Trophy. Tomorrow will bring more challenges as the Trophy heads north towards Fort Steele on its penultimate day.
BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2014, Day five overall standings: