The team riders experienced the full GS Trophy experience on day two. If day one had been a gentle introduction, this was a taste of the tough, demanding reality that will be the week ahead. The overall distance might have been short at 105 miles (170km) but the intensity meant every mile was measured if not in blood, then certainly sweat and tears.
Named the ‘Helicopter Trail’, today’s course started gentle, again seeing the competitors ride through quiet rural villages, passing along centuries-old paths between paddy fields, before ascending into the mountains. The high point came at 5,531 feet (1,686m) which was marked by the wreckage of a crashed ‘Huey’ military helicopter that gave the course its name, close to the border with Myanmar.
The descent from there proved to be the day’s riding highlight, as the trail grew increasingly steep and technical, narrowing to a single track, then down to a single tire’s width through the most critical sections. Not all competitors made it through unscathed but none were injured either. It was intense and increasingly hot work as the temperatures rose, from 65ºF (20ºC) at the summit to 90ºF (32ºC) in the valleys.
The first special test of the day, ‘Mai Daeng’, required the competitors to beat the clock as they rode down a bridge embankment, then under the bridge along a rocky river bed before chasing a zig-zag path up the far side of the valley. Like a special stage in a rally, this was about speed and aggression – and a modicum of calculation, for the teams needed to get all three bikes to the finish without a crash, as a dropped bike would incur a 30-second penalty. Team South Africa were victorious in this one.
Special Test Two, called ‘Do You Know?’, was sprung on the riders randomly during the day as they were challenged on their knowledge of the BMW R1200GS motorcycle including the capacity, horsepower and weight.
A stunning ride through the valleys, with staggering cliff formations and jungle vistas brought the competitors to the overnight bivouac at Mae Hong Son where the third and final test of the day awaited in mid-90s heat and high humidity.
Simply titled ‘Dead End’, the teams were shown two parallel single trails about 165 feet (50m) long and marked with barrier tape. Starting from one end, two teams at a time faced off against each other with the goal to be the fastest to push all their bikes to the ‘dead end’, touch tires and then reverse them back again – all against the clock. With time penalties awarded for touching the barrier tape or going into the other lane, it was certainly harder than it looked, especially in the intense afternoon heat. After all 19 teams had run the gauntlet, it emerged that Team Latin America pushed harder and faster than all the other challengers.
As all the results were compiled after a fantastic evening meal at the bivouac at The Dai resort, it is Team South Africa who lead the Trophy after day two, with Team UK and Team Latin America rounding out the top three.
John Harris, Team South Africa said, ”As a team we came together. We had one or two snags along the way but we didn’t get upset about it. We stayed motivated, enjoyed it as a team and thoroughly enjoyed the day – that made the difference.”
Results BMW Motorrad Int. GS Trophy 2016 Day Two
1 South Africa 85 pts.
2 UK 76 pts.
3 Latin America 74 pts.
4 China 69 pts.
5 CEEU 66 pts.
6 France 62 pts.
7 Argentina 61 pts.
8 Germany 60 pts.
9 USA 59 pts.
10 Brazil 57 pts.
11 Italy 55 pts.
12 Canada 52 pts.
13 Mexico 49 pts.
14 Russia 48 pts.
15 International Female Team 29 pts.
15 Alps 29 pts.
15 South Korea 29 pts.
15 South East Asia 29 pts.