MCN's GS Trophy Diary: Day Two

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MCN’s Michael Guy is in Thailand for the BMW GS Trophy, which pits teams from 19 countries against each other in a gruelling series of challenges on R1200GS bikes. Michael is resident journalist for the three-man British team

If day one was all about getting to Thailand and acquainting ourselves with our tents, day two has been a small taste of what lies ahead.

After a morning of filling in obligatory paperwork, we got to hear from the man responsible for the route we’ll be riding, Tom Wolf, and the masochistic special tests he’s created to push the competitors to the limit… and beyond.

While they are keen not to give much away, the underlying message is that it’s going to be hard. The last GS Trophy took place in Canada and while the miles were big and the going was fast it was on fast dirt super-highways that had been carved through the forest. Thailand is different – especially in the north, where huge areas remain largely undeveloped.

First of all it’s going to be very dusty and secondly we’re going to be riding on a lot of narrow singletracks through jungle and over mountains. They’ve warned us that stages of certain days are going to be seriously hard – in fact they’re saying they are unrideable, meaning I’ll have to work with my team-mates Gordon Blackley, James Berrill and Oliver Twig to get each of our four bikes up and down some of the hardest obstacles.

In the past the GS Trophy has taken place in South Africa, Chile and Canada, but the word on the street here in Thailand is that this year is going to be different. Instead of big fast, open trails we’re being warned of dusty open trails and tight, technical singletracks making up a large percentage of the riding. It’s also hot here with temperatures in the low to mid 30s, which should make manhandling an R1200GS on technical terrain a challenge in itself.

In preparation for what lies ahead the journalists, videographers and photographers got out on the bikes today for our first training session. Aimed to acclimatise each and every one of us to riding a GS, the day was spent focussing on low-speed riding, full-lock turns and probably the most important thing – how to pick up a 238kg GS when (not if) we crash it.

The training took place in the controlled surroundings of a local motocross track, complete with toilets, cold water and lots of shade – there was even an ice-cream lady.

We’ve got more training tomorrow before the arrival of the 19 international teams in the evening, but all of this is going to be relatively tame compared to the real event, stifling heat and manhandling an R1200GS, which starts in earnest on Sunday.

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider