A Day with GS Trophy Team USA

by Michael Satterfield

From February 9th-16th, 2020, 23 teams, from around the world will gather in New Zealand to take on BMW's International GS Trophy. An adventure where riders must tackle mud, water, rough trails, navigation challenges, and exercises that require problem-solving skills and teamwork. GS Trophy isn’t a race, it is a test of team spirit, skill, and resolve. This isn't a luxury trail ride from one resort to the next, teams will camp as they make their way across the New Zealand countryside facing some of the most demanding trails in the world.

After my own adventure with BMW Motorrad that took me across the Blue Ridge Parkway and the legendary Tail of the Dragon, I had the opportunity to spend a day with the US GS Trophy Team as they practiced at BMW's US Rider Academy proving grounds in South Carolina, seeing first hand what it takes to be one of the few chosen for the ultimate BMW motorcycle adventure.

The team was there to work with BMW US Rider Academy coaches in mock challenges to test their critical thinking skills as well as their ability to control a bike in different conditions. The riders come from different walks of life, some are just amateur riders who had bought their first adventure bike just a few years ago, others were semi-professional motocross riders, while yet another was a BMW motorcycle technician, the one thing they all had in common was a passion for BMW motorcycles and adventure. The GS Trophy has men's teams from around the world, but due to lack of female participants, the female teams are made up of women from different countries. This year of the 23 teams competing there are two international women's teams vying for the trophy. 

Most of the morning was spent drilling in the mud and gravel, push the bikes until they get stuck, get it out, help your teammate, solve problems, one thing you learn quickly is that the rules for each challenge are designed to make the team members think outside the box. Listening to the instructions carefully might just mean you can find a loophole that can save time and energy. One example was a challenge that required pushing your bike a fairly long distance, the men simply pushed their bikes in neutral, while the ladies figured out they could leave the bike running and just run alongside the bike saving time and more importantly physical energy for the next challenge.

From there we moved to the off-bike team challenges, which again requires coming up with unique solutions to overcoming obstacles. Moving objects, constructing bridges, and solving problems as a team again required listening to the instructions and figuring alternative resolution that many times weren't the obvious answer. 

The GS Trophy is the adventure of a lifetime and is open to anyone with a BMW GS series motorcycle if you want to take on the 2021 event you'll need to qualify at a regional event for your chance to make your national team. For more information and to follow the 2020 GS Trophy teams visit the official website HERE and enjoy more photos from my day with team USA below.