Did you see all those bikes on Tuesday morning? What was that all about? Was there another bike rally in town? Looked sick though.
You might be just like me and have never heard of the international motorcycle contest, The GS Trophy enduro, but in the week leading up to this publication you may have noticed the GS Trophy logo around the village displayed on shirts or printed on hats worn by members of council or teachers. And then there were all of those motorcycles and trailers and buses parked outside of the Nakusp Arena on Monday afternoon; was it all a coincidence, or perhaps you missed something?
Well, it just so happens that Nakusp played host to yet another international motorcycle event; the BMW-sponsored GS Trophy enduro is a contest that involves 64 riders representing 16 different countries competing in a 1900kilometre ride through western Canada over the course of seven days with numerous special test sections. For most, the bridge of comprehension can be crossed by drawing on the pop culture reference, The Amazing Race, but the GS Trophy organizers undoubtedly want to distance themselves from that association.
The GS Trophy enduro is not strictly a race in the sense that the teams are jockeying to cross the finish line at the end of every day, but is rather a comprehensive adventure that tests individual riding skill alongside teamwork through a variety of challenges both on and off the bike. Each team competes for points by completing tasks along the predetermined route, then closes out the day’s ride with a final challenge before the group eats, then bivouacs for the night. The twist? The riders don’t know what challenges wait for them on the road or at the end of each day. Each stop is filled with surprises governed by the unique character distilled from each location’s culture.
Teams began their odyssey in Calgary and traveled a muddy route to Golden where they competed in the Golden 8 Test, which required each team member to ride a figure 8 at slow speeds, dropping a ball in a bucket with each pass.
At 5 a.m., Monday morning, the group roused themselves out of their tents and hit the road, slipping and sliding their way along Donald logging road then traveling by paved highway to a 60 km logging road skirting the west side of the Arrow Lakes. Somewhere along the route the group had to complete a scavenger hunt through a recent cut block, seeking red plaques marked by GPS points.
The group then made their way to Arrow Park Ferry where they crossed and turned north towards Nakusp.
Upon arrival, the entire crew unloaded their gear into the arena then engaged in a hard-nosed single elimination tournament of Broomball. The event was organized in partnership with Zac Wethal with support from the Nakusp Parks and Recreation staff. Local high school student Lindsay Cann contributed by reffing the Broomball tournament in front of a crowd of onlookers and camera crews.
Previous to the start of the single elimination tournament, the enduro host asked the crowd of GS Trophy racers if any of them had ever seen or heard of Broomball before; only one hand went up. The game quickly jumped the language barrier and was soon mastered by some; teams from Germany, Russia, France and South Africa quickly adapted to the stick and ball dimensions of the game and fought a spirited battle to the semi-finals.
In the end, the Germans won the final match against France with controlled passing and ability to slow the game down to a pace that allowed the Germans to exploit the over-eager French.
After the tournament the exhausted teams dragged themselves into the auditorium to enjoy a dinner prepared by Deb Guest’s catering company then pitched their tents on the arena floor for the night. On Tuesday morning, it was another 5 a.m. start as the group headed off to Christina Lake and their next set of challenges.
The GS Trophy is organized through BMW Motorrad International and is completing their fourth year of competition. The first competition was held in 2008 across Tunisia, Africa, with subsequent competitions held in South Africa and South America.
Each rider in the enduro has been outfitted with a top of the line BMW R1200GS adventure bike equipped with all of the bells and whistles.
Team progress can be monitored via the GS Trophy website.