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ADV Rides5 Reasons to Follow the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia

5 Reasons to Follow the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia

Teams of GS riders from around the world battle it out in daily competition.

Published on 05.24.2018

What if I told you that if you spent enough time on your adventure bike you’d win an all-expense-paid, fully-supported ride in an exotic country with a bunch of cool people. That’s right, just practice doing fun stuff on your motorcycle and you’ll be gifted with the adventure of a lifetime, including all travel expenses, head-to-toe kit and the use of a brand-new bike.

In a nutshell, that’s the GS Trophy. Civilian riders from around the world are invited to compete at qualifying events within their own countries. No past or present pro riders can participate. The top three riders from these events go on to represent their nations during a week-long competitive adventure held every other year in a new host country. This is the sixth GS Trophy to date, with previous events taking place in Tunisia, South Africa, Patagonia, Canada and Thailand.


BMW GS Trophy Mongolia 2018 Adventure Motorcycle
Courtesy BMW Motorrad

If you remember the Land Rover Camel Trophy series from the 80’s and 90s, the GS Trophy is very similar: Teams traveling over challenging, unpredictable foreign landscapes where endurance and cooperation are crucial, though the meat of the actual competition comes in the form of interspersed special tasks and team skill challenges. All the while the participants are treated to a flip side of adventure travel as they get to know the host country’s culture via an itinerary of local interactions.

And yeah, here’s the part where I tell you it’s a BMW-branded event (you have to own one). But don’t stop reading even if you’re not a fan of GS and its cultish fervor. The coolest element of the GS Trophy is that the men and women competing — people just like you and me, many whom have never visited a foreign country — are about to engage in what’s likely to be the most demanding and interesting week of their lives.


BMW GS Trophy Mongolia 2018 Adventure Motorcycle
Matt Kelley | Courtesy Dimitrios Tournas

Watching regular people do magical stuff. Imagine watching elephants suddenly stand on point and pirouette. Lifelong trails competitor and Trophy participant Tom Thompson says, “Who would think they can ride trials on a 1200?” Well, it appears lots of folks can. Competitor Jocelin Snow, at 5’1” and maybe 100 pounds in full gear, wears her 500-pound GS like a Transformer, a mechanical extension of her body. All of these competitors report that they learned how to ride their gigantic ADV bikes so well by watching other riders do things that seemed impossible. Sure you get that when you’re watching the pros, but there’s something very satisfying about seeing un-jaded civilian riders master the controls.


BMW GS Trophy Mongolia 2018 Adventure Motorcycle
Courtesy BMW Motorrad

What the heck is it like to ride there? Definitely not your typical thru-traveler stopover, Mongolia is an off-beat destination that feels mysterious and isolated because it is mysterious and isolated. We conjure visions of its vast undulating steppes dotted with yurts, horses and wind-worn nomads because that’s what we’ve seen on the Discovery Channel. But what’s it really like to travel there? Few know, and even fewer know what it’s like to ride a motorcycle there. This location is by far the most remote, unpredictable and logistically challenging Trophy event to date, and evidently a very costly headache for BMW to organize. None of us know what to expect, which makes for a true adventure.


BMW GS Trophy Mongolia 2018 Adventure Motorcycle
Bettina Nedel | Courtesy Brian Voynick

These ladies deserve their own umbrella girls. These women kick ass on the big GS and its fun to watch. It wasn’t until the last Trophy event in Thailand that women were involved in the competition, and at that time, it was just one International Team of three women, the best riders from ten participating countries. This year there were almost triple the female riders at the qualifier, which resulted in not one but two International Teams, a very accurate reflection of the numbers of women worldwide who are drawn to the ADV lifestyle. While the guys muscle their way through the skills events, look for the girls to employ captivating finesse as they ask these monster bikes to mind their manners.


BMW GS Trophy Mongolia 2018 Adventure Motorcycle
Courtesy Dimitrios Tournas

How nice to put aside politics. The news is such a wasp’s nest today. We get up and brace ourselves for the headlines, cringing as we’re faced with the next disruption, the next school shooting, the next divisive battle. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issues, these are stressful times. The GS Trophy is a bit like the Olympics of Motorcycling, a time when we can watch the best of our best represent us all on an international stage. There are teams for 18 countries competing in the event this year, from China to Mexico to Russia, and each and every one of them is just an ordinary citizen striving to accomplish something we can all related to: Adventure Bike Mastery.


BMW GS Trophy Mongolia 2018 Adventure Motorcycle
Jocelin Snow | Courtesy Alfonse Palaima

There’s no other event like the GS Trophy — a full factory ride for well-practiced owners, and you have to hand it to BMW for that. As Jocelin Snow said, “It’s like they’re thanking us not only for buying the bike, but for spending the time to be good at riding it.” There are definitely more than a few cool ADV bikes out in the world, and maybe one day those brands will rally behind their owners and create some neat way to celebrate that enthusiasm. But in the meantime, let’s get behind these men and women who’ve taken their game to the next level. It’s not about the bike as much as it is about being the boss.

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Author: Jamie Elvidge

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May 24, 2018 9:55 am

How/where can we “tune in” to see this rally? Is it televised?

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
May 25, 2018 2:05 pm
Reply to  HalcyonRider

The best way to keep up with the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia is to stay tuned to the advpulse social media channels for updates and links to daily videos and reports June 3-11. Sadly the event will not be televised, though it would make a super fun-to-watch reality show!


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