PHOTOS: Vanessa Blankenagel, Markus Jahn & Amelie Mesecke
OFF THE RECORD…
The alarm clock went off at some ungodly hour. There’d not been enough room at the beachfront campground so I was billeted miles away in a motel. In the dark of the car park I hobbled over to the Land Cruiser while Driver Susan and husband Richard loaded my bags. We drove back to the camp across the deserted outskirts of Napier.
The previous night’s dinner had been busy and noisy, but the body count was pretty thin at breakfast, the riders spreading their eating times between 5:30 and 7:00. We didn’t wait for the start, just drove south smartish for the pebble beach ‘special’ at Cape Kidnappers.
After the beach games the drive out through the vineyards was stunning, a quiet peace sat upon these fields, these orchards, and the low morning sun created a spectacular New England in the Fall effect. In the car Vanessa made her Vanessa noises as she reviewed the shots from the special, she has a sing-song intonation that pitches high-low regardless of sentence structure. It quickly becomes endearing. In all an agreeable start to the day…
We had a fun day. Driver Susan’s off-road driving was tested driving a crumbling track along the shoreline. Film maker Tom Moran’s navigation was tested on the trails – his ‘shortcut’ proving less than speedy as the tortoise Land Cruiser beat his fleet of F 850 GS hares to the next special.
It didn’t matter, the sun was shining and the sea and sky were competing over which was the ‘blue-est’ (probably the Pacific Ocean won there). On the move, there’s a bubble you travel in, it’s an inclusive bubble, everyone you meet shares in the fun and enthusiasm, it’s just a day-long feel good.
I call it work, still.
JB’s BMW REPORT… Castlepoint, New Zealand.
Today’s stage of the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy is best described as a long push south along coastal trails. The Pacific Ocean glistened an azure blue under an unrelenting sun, while the riders weaved between shore and hills on a mix of tarmac, gravel and even sand.
A brilliant sunrise over the Pacific greeted the riders as they struck their tents for the typically early start. They rode along the coast to Cape Kidnappers (so named as this is where in 1769 the cabin boy on Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour was abducted by Maori warriors). Here the GS riders faced their first challenge of the day, ‘Gravel Push’. For this the three teammates needed to push or pull their F 850 GS, with the engine off, across a slalom course set in the deep gravel at the back of the beach. A good way to warm up for the ride ahead!
After this the course took the GS riders inland through the Hawke’s Bay wine growing region, passing the vineyards of the famous Elephant Hill, Black Bridge and Clear View wineries. Te Mata Peak, an impressive 400m limestone escarpment guarded the road south, while the riders enjoyed the dappled shade offered by avenues of poplar and willow.
The vineyards eventually gave way to sheep and cattle grazing stations – the primary industry in the Wairarapa. Where the riders found stands of native manuka trees they also found another of the Wairarapa’s agricultural activities: bee keeping, manuka honey being a highly valued produce. From here the trails – a constant mix of tarmac and gravel – led back to the coast and at Pourerere the riders found themselves riding on the beach itself, sometimes on the broad swathes of sand revealed by the low tide, sometimes on tracks that weaved between the dunes and toi toi (like a pampas grass).
Back on the road, the GS riders headed south to Herbertville where again they rode onto the beach – a common theme for the day – for the second challenge, ‘Beach race’. In this just one member was tasked to ride against the clock on an out-and-back course across the sands, finishing in a prescribed ‘stop box’. This called for full commitment to attain high speeds, but good technique if the rider wasn’t to nose dive into the sand at the turnaround or finish.
The last leg of the journey was an arduous 200km twisting route through the heart of the Wairarapa, as ever switching between tarmac and gravel all the way. The gravel can never be trusted – as one UK rider found just 5km from the finish when he found deep gravel and slid to the ground, but no damage done. The finish came at Castlepoint – another of Captain Cook’s ‘discoveries’, named on account of the 162m rock formation that projects over the beach. There’s also a reef, which sailors need to avoid, but today makes this a popular surf destination.
The day again proved a long one, with riders still arriving after 6pm, but as ever an excellent locally-sourced evening meal awaited, and a special surprise: a sheep show! This being the Wairarapa what else would you expect?
Tim Mitchell, Team UK
“I’m absolutely loving this, the more we go on, seeing the mountains, and the views we’ve been treated to today, it’s incredible. We’ve had a few hiccups in the competition, but hopefully we’ve enough days left to come back into contention. The bike has been impressing me, I ride an R 1200 GS at home but I”m enjoying the way the F 850 GS rides in these twisting lanes and trails – and the new rider aids make quite a difference.”
Shaun Terblanche, Team Australia
“Today was brilliant, the scenery is beautiful, the tracks awesome. You just can’t imagine the scenery, the green hills, beautiful beaches and the sea. We’ve gone well today, as well, with good times in both challenges so we’re hoping we’ll improve in the rankings. The event is incredible, it’s been absolutely great meeting all these riders, the marshals, the crew – there’s so much that goes into this event, and the guys here have it covered!”
Yeonsoo Yun, Team South Korea
“We are loving this event. We practiced every week before coming here, as a team. I have so much respect for my teammates, we motivate each other and work together so well, bringing different skills, but always motivated to win! I’m young, just 23, so I want to win more than anything, but my teammates, despite being older than me, they’re sharing this feeling. It’s very exciting to have led after day one, so we’ll give maximum effort to stay ahead! But more than anything, we’re loving this experience!”
BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020
Day Two overall standings:
1 South Korea 120 points
2 France 90
3 USA 87
4 South Africa 85
5 Italy 77
6 Russia 77
7 Netherlands 77
8 Australia 59
9 Latin America 58
10 Argentina 57
11 Mexico 54
12 Middle East 54
13 Brazil 48
14 Japan 45
15 Nordic 44
16 Malaysia 39
17 India 37
18 UK 36
19 North Africa 34
20 Thailand 24
21 Int. Female Team I 18
22 Int. Female Team II 14