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Motorcycle Events | BMW GS Trophy Qualifier Review

gs trophy 2021

Visordown went along to the UK qualifier event for the BMW GS Trophy at Walters Arena in the stunning Brecon Beacons

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 125
Overall
Not rated

NOW in its twelfth year, the BMW GS Trophy is a motorcycle competition that sees riders from all over the world compete for the ultimate prize – being part of Team UK in the International BMW GS Trophy 2022.

The International BMW GS Trophy 2022 takes place in Albania this year and will see teams battling it out over seven days. Each day will be filled with riding challenges, navigational tasks, teamwork exercises, and more. I think the best way to describe it is like a motorcycle-based treasure hunt, with riding tasks thrown in and a beer or four around the campfire once the riding for the day is done! To get to Albania, teams must compete in regional events, with the top riders from each forming the team that heads to the international finals.

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How much is the BMW GS Trophy?

This year's 2021 qualifier for the GS Trophy costs a very surprising £125. That’s pretty good value for money considering you’ll likely arrive on Friday evening and, if you stay for the finals on Sunday night, leave on Monday morning.

What facilities are on the site?

Onsite you’ll find a large, wooded camping area sat amongst the windfarm at Walters Arena. There is a main area with a large marquee for eating and briefing, a couple of food stalls and a bar for the all-important après-ride. On top of the luxuries, you also have proper flushing toilets and nicely put together and clean showers. For those that want a little more refinement, you can even stump up a few more quid and opt for a pre-erected ‘glamping’ tepee complete with a log-burner!

What happens over the course of the weekend?

Riding will only take place on Saturday and Sunday, with participants completing two road rides and one off-road route at Walters Arena. Both of the road rides also included small off-road sections thrown in, although it’s down to you, your ability, and the spec of the bike you’re riding, as to whether you take part in those.

Road rides

Each road ride will feature a series of challenges along the way, some on the bike and some off it. Our first challenge was about 30-miles into the 90-mile road route. It consisted of a tight and twisting riding challenge taking place on a pub carpark. At around 15-feet wide and 100-feet long, we were asked to navigate a very narrow and twisting route around the carpark marked out by cones. Completing it without putting a foot down will get you zero points, a dab of the foot is one point and a foot and the bike stopping is five points – and so on and so forth. Luckily I was able to channel my inner CBT riding Toad and managed to ace it as I did back then!

Next up you’ll have another 30 or so miles to cover before reaching your next challenge. To get from challenge to challenge you’ll need to follow a series of directions and waypoints printed onto a laminate that will double as your answer sheet. After about an hour of navigating some stunning Brecon lanes and roads, we reached our next challenge. ‘Pull up at the purple phone box on the layby and find out what the ‘Old Welsh Favourite’ is. In this case, a bric-a-brac shop just across the road provided the answer – Ringers Shag. Tobacco I’m guessing. After a day of riding and more challenges and tasks, you’ll roll back into Walters at about lunchtime and you’ll be more than ready for something to drink and eat before hitting the trails.

Off-road

Our final challenge on Saturday was an off-road ride around the expansive Walters Arena. The wide-open fire trails are peppered with challenges that, like the on-road ride, feature on and off-bike activities. The first we encountered was a manual handling task, which saw us picking up a bike then moving it through a coned course. At the mid-way point of the course, you were forced to hop on the bike and swap sides, completing the course on what most would call their unfavoured side for manual handling. The task is against the clock, with your individual and team timings noted on your scorecard.

After blasting along the fire trails some more you’ll complete a few more challenges, with one of the most challenging being a trials route set up to test the rider’s fine control of the R1250 GS. Completing the entire loop will take about an hour or so, and once that is done you can hang up your helmet for the day and relax.

The GS Trophy finals

Sunday will see you tackling your third on or off-road ride of the day, again, with a mix of challenges thrown in. Once that’s complete all the riders will gather back at base camp for the finals.

The BMW GS Trophy finals take place in a bespoke area at the centre of the arena. It’s a spectator-friendly event, and pretty much all of the teams taking part stick around to watch the handful of top-ranked teams battle it out for overall glory.

The Finals course is a mixture of skill-based team exercises and solo riding around the course. It’s tight and twisty, and would be a piece of piss on a lightweight dirt bike – throw a 250kg R1250 GS between your legs though and it’s a whole different kettle of fish! That said, the teams that took part smashed it, with our own team of UK journalists setting a healthy pace amongst dealer teams, and the punters.

Who is the BMW GS Trophy suitable for?

The GS Trophy event is open to all riders of all abilities, and even non-BMW owners can join in too – albeit in the GS Challenge as they will be unable to compete in the Trophy event. While some of the routes and challenges are tough going, it is tailored to all abilities, with total noobs riding alongside seasoned GS Trophy competitors.

BMW GS Trophy verdict

As manufacturer events go the GS Trophy is a cracking weekend. It’s unpretentious, well organised, and exceptionally good value for money. Not only will you get to ride some of the best roads and trails Wales has got to offer, but you’ll also get to test your skills, knowledge, problem solving and teamwork skills in a relaxed and friendly environment.