Lord of the Enduros.

Dirk Thelen overcomes the hurdles of the Enduro d'Agadir atop the BMW F 850 GS.

For Dirk Thelen, things are only heading in one direction: forwards, onwards and upwards. Where other participants of the four-day long Enduro d’Agadir overcome rocky gravel, sandy pistes and wet-clay mud with their hard Enduros, the four-time German Enduro champion effortlessly sets the pace – atop the new F 850 GS. A long-distance touring enduro subjected to a brutal test and terrain, right through Morocco. 

Wait for the magic.

When the morning sun rises in south-eastern Tafraout, the peaks of the Anti-Atlas mountain range shimmer with a magically glowing red. This is how Dirk Thelen remembers the barren yet impressive rocky landscape of the north African state. He has experienced these fascinating moments often in the past – this is his ninth time that the well-trained, experienced motorcyclist is taking part in the Enduro d’Agadir. And he always arrives at the destination successfully atop a BMW motorcycle – either a HP2 Enduro, F 650 GS, F 800 GS, R 1200 GS or now on the brand new F 850 GS. But this time, not much of the original magic can be felt at the beginning of the four-day Enduro, and no red glow can be seen. Not yet. 

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Water up to the seat bench.

The weather conditions are a real challenge for around 50 riders. Nine degrees Celsius and persistent rain make the first two days very difficult and almost completely unpredictable. What appeared at first glance to be a small stream swelled to a rushing torrent that had to be traversed by the participants. "The water almost reached our seat bench", Dirk recounts. Nevertheless, he expertly crossed the river on the F 850 GS. However, it rips another participant off his bike and carries him 50 metres downstream. He escapes physically unharmed, albeit fairly shaken up. The bike is found two days later when the floods recede.

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Push limits, grit your teeth.

An unwavering pair: riding come rain or shine requires a great deal of experience and endurance.

Push limits, grit your teeth.

Rain, wind, wet equipment, bivouac – the first day ends in exciting fashion for Dirk. "But I got the shivers in the evening." During the night, the temperature drops to around five degrees, with the wind chilling him right down to the bone. Despite a hat, down jacket, pullover, socks, long trousers and sleeping bag, his whole body shivers. "I gritted my teeth, pushed my limits and prayed it would get warmer. This was a very intensive experience for me." After the night outdoors, Dirk and the other enduro participants return to the rocks. In the meantime, the subsoil has become softer. Dirk is calm enough to plunge ahead through the deep mud. "I got used to it, applied the motorcycle accordingly or rode it tactically intelligently."

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The thrill lies in the unknown.

The thrill lies in the unknown.

For the several times Enduro champion, the thrill of the Enduro d’Agadir can be summed up in just one word: the unknown. "I do not know the route. Sometimes it takes us over rocky surfaces, and then back onto sand." No rider knows what awaits him around the next bend. No signs, no information. Instead, ravines, rocky terrain, steep inclines and descents and challenging boulders interchange.

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Surprises are a constant companion.

"You round a bend and the next second you are riding straight towards a huge pothole. You have to expect that suddenly a donkey or another animal will be right in front of you at any moment." The art is holding your nerve, making the right decisions and not damaging the motorcycle. "In this respect, my priority is arriving at my destination", says Dirk, describing his strategy. The 49-year-old rider from the Eifel is also excited by the possibility of testing his abilities with a BMW touring enduro on terrain that is just as challenging as the opponents on the starting grid are tough. And being absolutely competitive whilst doing so.

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In a field of wild hard Enduros.

In a field of wild hard Enduros.

The Enduro d’Agadir is no small undertaking by nature, and the competition is a real test as well. Because the hard Enduros are tailored to the sporty application, weighing around 120 kilos with an output between 40 and 55 HP. Dirk explains: "Compared to this is a BMW F 850 GS weighing almost 230 kilos and an impressive engine output of a meaty 95 HP. As soon as I want the required power, it is there – a motorcycle that can absolutely be relied upon." The Adventure bike ideally withstands the unfavourable conditions.

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A bike that can do a great deal.

Four-time Enduro champion is full of praise for the F 850 GS.

A bike that can do a great deal.

Dirk praises the incredible tracking stability, the impressive straight-ahead driving and at the same time the extremely precise steering behaviour of the F 850 GS. "The engine marches powerfully ahead and develops more than enough torque." Dirk also appreciates the low leverage forces and the new slipper clutch after a full day on the road. "The F 850 GS is a truly perfect motorcycle for off-road use. The big 21-inch front wheel makes sure of this. This bike can do a great deal and I am really impressed with the performance."

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"
The attraction of riding in the Enduro d’Agadir lies in showing that you can match up to a terrain that is just as challenging as the opponents on the starting grid are fierce with a BMW touring enduro. And being absolutely competitive whilst doing so.
"

Dirk Thelen, four-time German Enduro champion

Special test = period of suffering.

Special test = period of suffering.

From the Moroccan harbour town of Agadir, the Enduro route takes the riders to Tafraout located to the south east before proceeding westwards towards Tiznit on the foothills of the Anti-Atlas mountain range. The four-day stages are of varying lengths, with distances ranging from 174 to 239 kilometres. Day two begins for Dirk in Tafraout. Shortly after the start, there is a special test before entering the mountain range with a great deal of rocky climbs. "I push my limits in the special test, riding aggressively and at the same time carefully, so that I can get the most out of my machine. Then I subject the material to stress and the bike has to suffer too. Ultimately, it is a question of time." In the special tests on sandy surfaces, Dirk reaps the benefits of the GS's traction. When off-road, he switches into Enduro Pro mode. "The motorcycle is extremely easy to steer using the rear wheel. Whatever the surface, I got the feeling that the F 850 GS can be guided cleanly and in a controlled manner wherever the rider wants.

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Dirk continues his train of thought.

In the following days, Dirk is on extremely rocky single trails. On the narrow paths, he must always correctly judge the dimensions of his motorcycle. He spends most of the last day on sandy pistes. Whatever terrain he encounters: "It is important never to give up and not to make any mistakes. And when I make mistakes, I have to deal with the consequences and continue to think positively." During the stages, he doesn't think of the next day, but concentrates entirely on the moment. Dirk is in his element, enjoying every section, fully committed with every fibre of his body. "You must always be wide awake", the likeable sportsman says. His heart burns for motorcycling and motorsport. "I love experiences such as the Enduro d’Agadir. At night I would lay awake in bed – continuing my ride in my mind."

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If you are not fit and well-trained, you will not last a single day at the Enduro d’Agadir.   

Everything has a consequence.

Back home, Dirk intensively prepared for the Enduro, honed his riding technique and above all worked on his physical condition. "If you are not physically fit – depending on the stage and terrain – you have no chance of riding through the day and arriving at your destination." Everything you do has a consequence - of this Dirk is convinced. At the Enduro d’Agadir, he rides consistently and with immense concentration until he reaches his destination. In the evening, he is sure to take in the Moroccan culture. And at the end of the four days, he experiences the glow of the red granite rocks once more. "This is truly breathtaking.“

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F 850 GS

Adventure

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