Mongolia welcomes BMW Motorrad GS family.
The BMW Motorrad GS community’s best amateur riders from across the globe have arrived in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbataar for the start of the International GS Trophy 2018, the sixth edition of this prestigious and challenging competition that takes place every two years in exotic, far-flung destinations around the world.
The quest for the Int. GS Trophy crown.
This year there are 18 teams from 21 nations all aiming to become the Int. GS Trophy 2018 champions but the truth is that each individual participant is already a winner, having won the right in their respective national qualifying events to compete in the international finals against fellow riders from right across the continents of Europe, The Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. Although many teams and individuals had already connected via social media, their arrival on 1 June at the Chingisiin Khuree Int. GS Trophy base camp near Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbataar was the first time these GS ‘ambassadors’ had actually met in person.
The arrival of the participants was the final piece in the Int. GS Trophy jigsaw. Waiting for them were the marshals, who had successfully finished their final scouting tour, and the team journalists, who arrived at base camp a couple of days in advance of the team members they represent. Finally, it was time to ‘get the show on the road’. After the necessary briefings and relevant paperwork had been completed, the traditional Int. GS Trophy group photo was taken with all the countries’ flags waved wildly by team members.
Then it was finally time for the competitors to be united with their machines — the BMW R 1200 GS Rallye models specially prepared for the Int. GS Trophy with official BMW Motorrad parts and accessories. It was a time of high emotions, especially when participants saw their motorcycle for the first time, complete with their country flag and their own name, as well as their family name additionally ‘lasered’ with an aluminium silicone compound onto the unique radiator guard, using a special 3-D printing technique. There were many selfies, videos and team photos taken with the bikes, despite hail and high winds battering the new occupants of the base camp.
Jose Vivanco, #201, Team Mexico.
A mesmerising Mongolian welcome.
On the evening before their first competition day, the participants were treated to a wonderful display of Mongolian traditional pursuits. This included an impressive display by Mongol horse archers, who entertained an enraptured audience with daring feats such as jumping on and off while their horses galloped, and sliding down either side of their horse to retrieve objects off the ground — a skill which was also used historically to shield their bodies from enemy arrows. Inside the shelter of a huge ‘Ger’ (Yurt), the evening’s entertainment included harmonic throat singers, acrobats and contortionists.
Time to get into gear.
Time to get into gear.
But for many of the participants, a really late night was out of the question because one thing is certain at the Int. GS Trophy — the wake-up calls start early and remain that way for the eight full days of gruelling competition. At 5.30am tomorrow, the klaxon will sound and it will be time to jump out of bed, throw on some rider equipment, pack the bags and leave the comfort of the Yurt behind. After wolfing down a quick breakfast, there will be lots of final preparations and checks to complete before the long-awaited first competition day.
This first riding day will also be the longest day in the saddle because ahead of the riders will be around 470 kilometres of tough on- and off-road terrain (even the paved sections can be challenging in Mongolia). The route will take the participants away from the Chingisiin Khuree camp in a southerly direction towards the Tsagaan Cliffs, with two special stages thrown into the mix, before finishing at the Camp Tsagaan Survaga, near the small village of Ulziit. For everyone concerned, it will be a first taste of the real Mongolia, shared with fellow GS enthusiasts and new-found friends.