GS TROPHY – THAILAND
For JB the riding year started in February, in Thailand for the 2016 BMW International GS Trophy. Before the competition started there was a warm-up ride for the team-embedded journos. It poured down and with the clay base to the trails it was a trifle slippy. Everyone was soaked through, but it was warm, so not so bad!
2016 was the first year a female team participated. They were a strong team, too, and impressed with their full-attack attitude right from the start
Things you find in the jungle, no.4: Bell UH-1 Iroquois (‘Huey’) helicopter (crashed). It probably prompted over a thousand photographs in the one hour we were there, the GS riders crawling all over it like ants…
Not all photo shoots go as you’d hope. Shooting Jonny Walker portraits ahead of the season in a bleak mid-winter Doncaster was a bit of a flop. Lovely guy, great bike, but no backdrop, no story to shoot against. Fortunately KTM has a vast picture library of JW22 shots where he’s doing crazy-impossible things.
Trials and enduro ace Martin Craven has a side interest in scramblers (sometimes aka butchered classics). His Honda CB500/4 was an Elsinore tribute. We loved the bike but never got around to creating the feature story that should have gone with it
In one of the least popular moves ever in Chez JB, within a fortnight of returning from Thailand, JB was off on another adventure – riding into the remotest quarter of Madagascar. Riding with Herbert Schwarz’s Touratech UPoA team, the terrain got super-challenging. The ferry ride was like no other, too.
Herbert somehow managed to persuade a very nervous Ducati to let us have a pre-production Multistrada 1200 Enduro for the ride. American Benjamin Myers was the pilot and the pair got along famously – well, with only the odd lie-down (Ben rides with some flair!)
No wooden bridge could be ridden without a pre-inspection. Where we could we’d rebuild them, replacing missing planks, but where there was more gaps than planks it was prudent to walk the bikes across, sometimes taking big strides. What you’re not seeing here is the succession of gaps that follow this one.
This is Australian Andrea Box, easing her Triumph Tiger 800 down another slippery wet clay slope. You can see the wet wooden bridge would severely punish the slightest slip, and always with a 250-kilo bike (plus rider) you were wondering when one of the planks would give way (it happened…).
JB had a premium 2016 – two weeks after Madagascar he was off again, this time scouting the new ACT trail across Portugal. Rain was yet again a major issue as you can see from the leaden clouds.
The ACT route came across an old mining site. Quite what they mined here we couldn’t tell but it looked pretty toxic, a geiger counter might have had something to say about it. Of course it created the most amazing dystopian-pretty images.
In the Spring, sometime TBM and RUST associate Rick Kemp delivered us a lovely story on riding the Pilgrims Way on a couple of stunning Fantic trail bikes. We did a 7am photoshoot in historic Canterbury to kickstart the story. Rick’s a lovely gent, still very active editing Trail magazine for the TRF.
By May, at last Warren got in on some action, riding his first international launch, with KTM. Riding eight bikes in a day was a new experience for him, as it would be for anyone. Takes a bit of endurance.
ROAD OF BONES
JB’s Kiwi mate Chris Stephens took a few chums to Russia to ride the Road of Bones. It was challenging but they got through. Contrary to usual experience, where the locals bail out stricken western adventurers, the can-do Kiwis, with their engineering backgrounds, came to the rescue of the locals fixing the broken hydraulics on a stricken truck.
RUST hit the Welsh Two Day Enduro in some style, with a fresh Husky TE300 and Yam WR250F. Warren loved the cross tests where the 300 could be let fly.
No multi-day event is complete without JB doing his near-ritual puncture repair. He’s saving the planet he says, one mousse at a time.
JB took the trip to Sweden for the Husky launch. The bikes were great, the Alpinestars kit even better…
This was Herbert Schwarz’s interpretation of a scrambler. The stripped-back R 1200 GS was also stripped of its traction control and rider aids, so it was an unfettered 125hp at all times – a lovely, entertaining ride!
The Scrambler test/shoot took place on the Portuguese archipelago called the Azores, slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. One hell of an island…
We lost this guy along the way in 2016. Without Si Melber we wouldn’t be here. His inspiration had been TBM (Trail Bike Magazine) which he originated and helmed for 20 years. In 2015/16 TBM transitioned into RUST as an online publication. After two decades, though, Si was ready for new challenges. We miss him, still.