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There are thousands of women in the MOA, and this blog exists to give them a voice. Thanks to all who submit their entries! You can reach us on Facebook or by sending an email to submissions@bmwmoa.org with the subject "Women of the MOA blog submission." Please send photos in JPG or PNG format and words as a Word document or text file.


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Top tags: gs trophy  S1000XR 

300,000 miles on 5 BMWs: Debbie Fillian rides ...and rides ...and rides!

Posted By Debbie Fillian #30879, Tuesday, June 16, 2020

I started riding on the back of our KZ400 the summer before I married Lee in 1977.

In 1987 a friend suggested we ride to Alaska. Lee and I had ridden a lot of miles together two up, but I wasn’t sure about riding on the back on bad roads and decided it would be better to have my own bike. I had a motorcycle license, but only a couple hundred miles of motorcycle experience. Early spring 1988 I bought a new leftover 1987 K 75 T. I managed to get in 6,000 or so miles in before summer. Our trip was five and a half weeks and 10,000 miles and my total for the year was around 20,000 miles.

I never kept track of how many states I rode on my own bike. Riding solo and two-up, I've been to 49 US states and six Canadian provinces.

During the first 25 years we were married, we would take three-week trips and camp most of the time. These were big loop trips like Californian Coast or New England states. After that we started staying in motels and our trips were a little shorter, averaging two weeks.

Lee belongs to several forums and several times a year we meet with other forum members in different states and do day rides for three or four days in the area. These are motel rallies and the trips last one to two weeks. Almost all of our miles are together on trips. We rarely ride local.

I have owned the following bikes:

  • 1987 K 75 T
  • 1991 K 75 S
  • 2003 K 1200 RS
  • 2011 K 1300 S
  • 2016 R 1200 RS - my current bike

I put the most miles on the K 75 S (87,150) and K 1200 RS (84,250).

If you see a matching pair of Lupin Blue R 1200 RSes, stop and say hi to myself and Lee.

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GS Trophy 2020: DAY EIGHT!

Posted By Louise C Powers #212117, Tuesday, February 18, 2020

It’s a wrap!

Day Eight was the final day of the 2020 GS Trophy Oceania. Morning came and riders were exhausted. Seven days of riding, the previous three incredibly difficult and long, were making it harder to be up and ready to go before sunrise. The last day was short, with only 265 kilometers to ride.

International Female Team II and Team Japan hit the road together, and though there would not be a Special Stage until later in the day, the first surprise of the day came when the marshal stopped his teams and informed them they would be riding without their engines on.

The road into Arrowtown soon turned into a hiking trail, the Trophy riders having special permission to ride the technical, narrow "road." The only restriction was it would have to be done silently, with no engine noise at all. For the next couple of kilometers down into town, riders cut their engines and more than 100 F 850 GSes quietly coasted downhill. It was an odd feeling at first, but eventually there was something serene, almost zen-like, about dozens of bikes negotiating around ruts and rocks, single-file down the trail, in complete silence.

At the bottom of the trail, a traffic jam ensued as riders appoached the first river crossing of the day. The river was about 15 meters (50 feet) or so across, and not terribly deep, but it was rocky-bottomed with a fast current. It proved to be a difficult crossing for some riders, but IFT II had no problems. That was just the first of 27 water crossings for the day.

Just outside of Arrowtown, heading towards Queenstown, riders entered a valley on a road with large signs stating "four-wheel drive only." The next beautiful stretch of road criss-crossed rivers flowing down from the mountains on each side of the valley. In turns it was beautiful two-track, with large loose gravel, embedded rock, baby-head rollers, sand, mud and water. Jeeps, Land Rovers and FJ Cruisers were out in force, making the whole place seem like the Colorado high country during summer.

Once through the most difficult of the river crossings on that road, riders came to their first Special Stage of the day. It was a two-up jerry can challenge. One team member rode while a second rode pillion while carrying 10-liter (2.6 gallons) jerry cans filled with water. Beginning close to the road at the start gate, the rider had to negotiate a grassy road that turned into a single track loop at the far end. Once all the way around the loop, the pillion rider handed one jerry can to the third team member while taking the other. Those two team members had to run across the river, then alongside it until they made it back to the start gate, where the rider and bike met them.

The goal was to have all three team members, two jerry cans, and one motorcycle back at the gate to stop the time. A dropped bike was a DNF, but that was no problem for Lisa Taylor (USA), who was the pilot, with Andrea Box (AUS) as pillion carrying the cans. Andrea handed off one can to Klara Finkele (IRL), who slipped down the bank into the river. Andrea was right behind her as Lisa took off on the bike. The two women ran for the end, but it was a long, hard slog. As soon as Lisa got the bike back to the start, she jumped off and ran to take the can from Klara. IFT II was not the fastest, but they completed the course and came out ahead of several other teams.

Directly out of the Special Stage area was another water crossing followed by a long, steep, loose rocky hill. More riding through the valley, more water crossings and wet boots, more spectacular views, and a few more sheep rounded out the afternoon. Riders came into Queenstown and immediately headed up a ski hill for the second Special Stage of the day - the final Special Stage of the competition. They saw cones laid out and a hill climb. This would be a technical riding challenge, and one that was worth double points.

The special would have a LeMans start, with each rider in turn running to their bike, starting it and taking off through gates, negotiating up a hill followed by a wall climb, weaving through a tight slalom, then bombing back to the finish box, where they high-fived the next rider to get them started.

Time penalties were given for dabs, dropped bikes, missed cones, etc. and the fastest time won. Team journalists were allowed to be on the course to pick up bikes or help on the hill and wall. BMW MOA member Lisa Taylor had an almost perfect run until she dropped the bike on the final cone of the tight slalom. Andrea and Klara each got stuck at the top of the wall climb and got some assistance.

After completing their run, the team stayed to watch a few other teams before riding back down the mountain into town to say good-bye to their bikes. The bikes stayed at a warehouse, where they will be cleaned up, repaired if necessary and sent out on the Follow The Trail tours happening over the next two months.

Teams were shuttled back up the ski hill, where they would camp for the night and have closing ceremonies looking out over Queenstown. Riders showered, food and drink were served, and the scoring and closing ceremonies began. International Female Team II knew they would be finishing at the bottom, but that didn’t matter a bit. They had already won just by qualifying to be there, representing their countries and competing alongside riders from all over the world.

Each rider was given their windscreen with their number on as a memento of the event. Team South Africa was the big winner again, making it three GS Trophies for SA. Everyone involved cheered and applauded the winners, then proceeded to hug, give out gifts, ask to have T-shirts and helmets signed and enjoy each other’s company. A live band played well into the early morning hours as the incredible adventure came to an end.

The next morning would see most participants leaving in groups, saying goodbye but knowing they had new friends to last forever. Flights out of Queenstown gave a perfect bird’s-eye view of the beautiful country newly discovered by so many. As people make their way home, having accomplished something pretty great, they all had one question on their minds: Where will the 2022 International GS Trophy competition be?

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GS Trophy 2020: DAY SEVEN!

Posted By Louise C Powers 212117, Saturday, February 15, 2020

It was another beautiful day in paradise!

The 2020 GS Trophy has completed seven of its eight days of competition and the riders are still loving every minute of it. The morning dawned with pink and lavender skies in the middle of the South Island over Lake Tekapo. Riders rolled out beginning at 7:00 a.m. once again, headed straight for their first challenge about 20 kilometers away. International Female Team II rode with Team Middle East today and had a great time with a team that was all for having fun all day long.

The morning’s challenge took place in a natural half-pipe right off the road. Each rider had to drop in and ride a slalom course, including up the steep loose sides of the half-pipe, complete a left-hand full circle in loose soil, then come to a stop in a box, bike running, left hand in the air. As soon as the hand went up the next rider could begin. The score would be based overall time, but riders were not allowed to miss a cone or drop a bike.

International Female Team II did a fantastic job. All three women rode steadily and got through the course cleanly. They were not the fastest, but unlike other teams, they did not drop a bike or get themselves stuck in the loose, off-camber turn.

MOA members Lisa Taylor (left) and Louise Powers.

Riders took off from the half-pipe for a 360 kilometer day. Much of it was gravel roads over three mountain passes with beautiful views of New Zealand's countryside. The final part of the day involved riding Thompson’s Gorge, a beautiful, exposed and steep two-track leading to the second Special Stage of the day.

The challenge at the top of the windy pass was to bump start an F 850 GS in the space of about ten meters (about 32 feet in American). If the team failed the first time, they could haul the bike back up and try again, but they only had one minute to complete the task. BMW MOA member Lisa Taylor rode, while Andrea Box (AUS) and Klara Finkele (IRL) pushed. They used their whole space and got some momentum going. With the bike in a high gear, Lisa gave it a good bounce and popped the clutch. The engine turned over, but only briefly. The rules stated the bike had to start and stay running, so the girls pulled the bike back up and gave it another go. Sadly, they were unable to get it started.

Failing to bump-start the bike did not deter them from enjoying the rest of the ride through the gorge, including multiple water crossings, lots of rocks and some soft sand. It was a bit late in the day when they rolled into camp, the last teams to arrive at a campground above Lake Wanaka. This lake is famous for its tree that grows up right out of the middle of the lake. It's worth your Google time to see the many beautiful photos taken during the 2020 GS Trophy. You can also visit gstrophy.com and vote for your favorites.

When officials announced the day's scores, IFT II gained only three points on the first challenge and eight on the second. They finished out the day with a total of 109 points. Tomorrow is the final day of the GS Trophy. Word is we will have some good terrain and some incredible water crossings. All points earned in special challenges are doubled tomorrow! Stay tuned for the final scores and photos of the wrap up.

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GS Trophy 2020: DAY FIVE!

Posted By Louise C Powers #212117, Friday, February 14, 2020

It was the hardest day yet!

Day five of the 2020 GS Trophy started off at a much more reasonable time than the previous day, but it would prove to be far more of a challenge. Riders set off beginning at 7:00 a.m. and were off-road and climbing within a few short kilometers.

GS riders from the States would say the passes today were very similar to those of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Think steep, winding, loose and rocky. There were a few extra challenges thrown in such as small water crossings and traffic jams as riders struggled to get up rocky steps or keep their bikes on the track.

International Female team II rode with Argentina today, and the women did extraordinarily well on the trails. At the top of the first pass, they encountered the first of the two Special Stages of the day. The first stage was the Emirates Challenge. Riders had to ride a steep, loose course while looking out for someone holding a plane ticket with a seat assignment. Lisa Taylor had a clean run on the course. Klara Finkele of Ireland went second, and struggled with a few bike drops; Lisa helped her up and along. The final rider was Andrea Box of Australia, and she had a clean run also. Unfortunately, this challenge had a time limit of four minutes for all three riders, and the women went over time. We would have to wait until the evening’s scoring to find out if they were awarded any points for the Stage.

After that challenge, riders headed over a second pass to their lunch stop. The most difficult part of the ride was over with at this point, and the afternoon had relaxed, sweeping gravel roads through forest and farms and 150 kilometers of beautiful, scenic twisty pavement.

During the course of the day, IFT II and Argentina picked up IFT I, consisting of Claire Bichard (FRA), Nikki van der Spek (NLD), and Isabela Lodono Rivas (COL), and they all reached camp in time to set up tents and head to their second challenge of the day.

The second Special Stage of the day was the Rab Challenge. One of the 2020 GS Trophy supporters, Rab, donated tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and functional clothing for all participants. This challenge had riders in a relay. Each member of the team had to run from the beach to the campground and find a tent set up with a sleeping bag lying in front of the vestibule. They had to pull the sleeping bag out of the compression sack, unfurl it into the tent, remove their boots and climb in. Then they needed to zip themselves in and promptly reverse the whole process, including returning the sleeping bag to the compression sack and running back to the beach.

The women all had showers and dinner, and headed down to a bonfire on the beach, where a stage had been set to reveal the day’s scoring. High on the cliff over the beach, “Make Life A Ride” shown brightly against the rock and the riders all congratulated each other on their fantastic day of riding.

IFT II received three points for the Emirates Challenge, despite going over time, and another three for the Rab Challenge. Despite only being awarded six points on the day, the women smiled, cheered for their team and are hoping to make up for it with the day's photo challenge.

Tomorrow brings 440 kilometers, approximately 80 kilometers more than today. Riders will see more of beautiful New Zealand and try to win more points in the Special Stages. Come back and find out how they do! Remember to cheer on our BMW MOA riders in this year’s GS Trophy Challenge!

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GS Trophy 2020: DAY FOUR!

Posted By Louise C Powers #212117, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
The beginning of day four of the 2020 GS Trophy Oceania came far earlier than any of the competitors, media or support staff cared for. Most were awake by 3:30 a.m., bags packed by 4:30, breakfast groggily consumed, and on the bikes ready for a 5:25 departure. Riders rolled out of camp and through New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington in the early morning darkness, heading for the Picton Ferry. Today was the day to go to the South Island.

How do you get 140 motorcycles, 200 people and support vehicles onto a ferry in one go? Pretty quickly, it turns out. Everyone was ready to go and waiting for the ferry team to send bikes where they belonged. Marshals had tie-down straps and each rider secured their own bike, teammates helping out as needed.

IFT II's Andrea Box (AUS) takes advantage of the ferry ride between New Zealand's North and South Islands to get a little extra rest.

The passage was relatively smooth, but with a twist. Riders had one Special Stage once everyone was loaded and before the ferry pulled away — literally a test. Riders had to take a quiz on the history of the GS motorcycle. Officials kept the quiz scores secret until the end of the day.

For the remainder of the passage, riders relaxed. Some napped, some watched scenery and many chatted with their friends both old and new. When the announcement came for disembarkation, everyone was geared up and ready. Once off the ship, everyone was ready to get back on the bikes. A quick stop in town for a coffee and some quick souvenirs like kiwis and possum socks, and the riders enjoyed a beautiful, twisty pavement ride along the coast to the campground they would call home for the evening.

IFT II on the ferry between the islands - Louise in the foreground, then Lisa, Klara and Andrea in the distance.

The campground is nestled along a beautiful river, perfect for a quick dip to rinse away the warm day. Before anyone could hop in, they had to complete two Special Stages. IFT II were first to participate in the navigation challenge; they got a nav unit and coordinates. The objective: plug the coordinate into the Nav IV, run to the location given to find a second Nav IV. The second unit had coordinates in it, and the competitors needed to transfer those coordinates to the unit they had and run back to the start. It was a timed event, and IFT II came away with a finish time just over eight minutes.

Once finished, the women set up camp and were sent off to the second Special Stage. In this event, they had to remove the rear wheel from one of the fleet bikes, run around the bike with the wheel and put the wheel back on. Once on, the brakes needed to be pumped and chain tension needed to be checked to make sure the bike was ready to be ridden. Six teams worked on bikes at a time, and they were given 15 minutes to complete the task.

This is the new vote photo - head over to gstrophy.com and vote for this photo to score some points for IFT II!

The women had the wheel off quickly, ran around the bike, and set off to put it back together. After some struggling, they had the wheel back on and the axle nut tightened. Brakes pumped, hand in the air, they realized they didn’t have a great time but were quickly assured they had done better than many. After some celebration, the women headed off to create their next photo for public voting. It will be up tomorrow for you to vote - don’t miss it! - vote early and often at www.gstrophy.com.

Scoring took place after a quick dinner. IFT II earned 16 points in three Special Stages, putting them at 52 points but still in 22nd place. With half the competition left to go, they are ready for the challenge and more beautiful scenery along with the riding!

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GS Trophy 2020: DAY TWO!

Posted By Louise C Powers #212117, Monday, February 10, 2020
Day 2 of the 2020 GS Trophy competition in New Zealand dawned sunny and cool, but the participants started breaking camp two hours before the sun came up. Breakfast consumed, the teams met up with their new team partners and marshal for the day to start their long, 360-kilometer day of riding and challenges.

Day 1, with its combination of riding and festivities between dinner and bed, exhausted the competitors. A few kilometers in, everyone started to really wake and feel refreshed. International Female Team II rode with Team Latin America, which is made up of riders from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Paraguay, and a team journalist from Chile. They encountered their first Special Stage only 28 kilometers into the day.

The first challenge took place on the beach right along the eastern coast of the North Island. In this part of the beach, deep gravel is abundant and teams had to drag, pull, and push a dead bike through an off-camber, uneven, hilly cones course. This was a timed event with few rules. Teams just had to get through each of the gates and not knock over cones.

IFT II had Klara and Andrea pulling the bike using tow straps wrapped through the engine guards, while Lisa pushed and steered. They were given the three-two-one-go and started off, Andrea’s strap immediately giving way and tossing her to the ground. Klara and Lisa continued on while Andrea quickly recovered and got back to it. The rest of the run was clean and the women made it through in 60 seconds.

After a quick ride through some countryside and back to the coast, Trophy participants found themselves entering a beach and doing what most of them have only dreamed of doing - cruising along the coast, playing in sand and the salt spray of the waves.

Another quick hop on gravel roads though sheep farms and small villages brought the riders back to the beach for lunch and the second Special Stage. Teams had to choose one rider to in the sand straight down to a pair of flags, crossing behind them, then making it back to a box to stop, kill the engine, and throw hands in the air. The rider would have only one minute to complete this challenge.

Go to www.gstrophy.com and vote for this photo to score some points for IFT II! You can vote from each device you have, so vote often!

The women had been asked by the marshal to choose a member of the team to ride this Special Stage without knowing what it would be, even before they set off for the day. Andrea was the choice; she took off down the straightaway, made the turn around the first flag, and as she reached the second flag, she slid into the sand. Teammates Lisa and Klara, along with journalist Louise, ran to help her right the bike, which she had nearly up by the time they got to her. She took off, made it to the box, and finished dead bike, hands thrown in the air with time to spare.

After more kilometers of gravel roads and a couple of stunning stops on cliffs high above the waves, the tired riders rolled straight into dinner. After they tossed down some dinner and dessert of Pavlova - which Kiwis claim was invented in New Zealand - tents were erected and the GS Trophy participants enjoyed a sheep shearing demonstration in the barn where dinner was presented that evening.

just before riders were ready to fall off their feet from exhaustion, officials announced the day's scores. Though the women performed well, they gained only a couple of points for each Special Stage, and they found themselves in 22nd place. They now have nowhere to go but up, and you can help!

Day 2 was a special day, not only because of the opportunity to ride a beach in New Zealand, but it is also photo contest day! Here on the beach, IFT II posed for a picture they hope you all will love. If you love it enough, and vote for it, they will receive points that go towards their total for the competition. Make sure you go to www.gstrophy.com and vote for your favorite photo - the one for IFT II is just a little above, right there - LOOK AT IT! VOTE! That is the ONLY WAY competitors can receive points! You can like the pics on social media all you want, and the women will see and love that, but votes only count on the website! Remember, you can vote from each device you have, so drag out your laptop, phone, and tablet, and vote on your desktop at work, too!

Follow the action in real time (New Zealand time!) on Instagram (@AGirlOnAMotorbike, @GSTrophyTeamUSA), Facebook (GS Trophy International Female Team II, 2020 GS Trophy Team USA), and on the web at the GS Trophy website and the Women of the MOA blog.

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GS Trophy 2020: DAY ONE!

Posted By Louise C Powers #212117, Monday, February 10, 2020

Day 1 of the 2020 GS Trophy kicked off early in the morning. The competitors headed out, two teams to a marshal, to start off the competition's hours of riding through the beautiful North Island of New Zealand. Approximately 195 kilometers of the first day's 350 km was gravel roads, roaming over hillsides and through small villages.

One particular section of gravel road took riders over a mountain pass, but about halfway through they encountered their first Special Stage of the day. Excitement and nervous energy were high as the riders lined up to find out what they would tackle. Team journalists parked to the side, but were told to join their teams to hear what the challenge would entail. Riders were to cross a small river, ride the rocky shore on the opposite side from where they started, then cross back and do a small hill climb on loose ground. As soon as the first rider finished their run, the next rider could begin. As soon as that rider was done, the third could begin. All riders had to be across the finish line in four minutes, with points deducted for dabs and drops, as well as asking for help should it be needed.

International Female Team II started with Lisa, followed by Klara, and Andrea rode the final leg. Team journalist Louise Powers was available to help, should any rider need it. Each woman rode spectacularly, and each woman dropped her bike in one spot. The team quickly worked together to right bikes and send their teammates on!

Sixty more kilometers saw the riders reach their lunch stop and their next Special Stage. This was the Sena Challenge. One rider would ride and one rider would guide, using their new Sena 50R communication device. The rider would ride a short cones course, going through three gates and on to the finish. They could not drop the bike, they could not miss a gate, and they could not knock over a cone.

This seems simple enough until you recognize the reason for the comm system - the rider on the bike was blindfolded! They had to make it through the whole course without being able to see. After watching two teams miss out on points because of dabs and downed cones, Andrea guided Lisa through without a drop, a dab, or a knocked-over cone! Time would tell how their approach to this challenge would have them placed, and the team, along with Team India, moved on to lunch.

Following lunch, the teams finished out the day’s ride, rolling into camp in time to pitch tents and run to dinner. With little time to clean up, each team presented itself to all the others. Given two minutes per team to do so, some teams sang, some danced, some taught the whole crowd traditional dances or phrases from home. IFT II created a game show, searching for the perfect riding machine for each of the three women. The Trophy participants and staff went crazy for the women’s antics, and at the end of the presentations, it was time for scoring!

Each team crowded in close as officials announced the day's points for the two Special Stages. IFT II received zero points for the first challenge since they did not finish within time. They finished with nine points in the second challenge, and those points ranked them 21st out of 22 teams for the night. There is a lot of Trophy Challenge left to go, and they are hoping to move that spot up and up over the course of the next week. We know each of the teams are winners as they spend eight days riding through beautiful New Zealand, but check back for each day’s scores and Special Stages and to cheer our MOA member on!

Follow the action in real time (New Zealand time!) on Instagram (@AGirlOnAMotorbike, @GSTrophyTeamUSA), Facebook (GS Trophy International Female Team II, 2020 GS Trophy Team USA), and on the web at the GS Trophy website and the Women of the MOA blog.

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GS Trophy teams ready to go on the ride of a lifetime!

Posted By Louise C Powers #212117, Sunday, February 9, 2020
ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND! Here in Rotorua, among the natural thermal springs, the teams have all arrived, the bikes are waiting, tents have been pitched, riding kit unpacked and everyone is ready for the start of the seventh BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy.

With the exception of the Australian team, arriving here has been a matter of long haul flights for all participants so there’s been the matter of coming to terms with jet lag. Then they have to manage event registration, taking possession of the BMW F 850 GS motorcycles, adjusting the bikes to their personal needs, and then to embrace New Zealand life. The indigenous Maori people treated the riders to an introduction to New Zealand culture, including the world-famous haka, a traditional challenge to newcomers.

This year there are 22 teams from 25 nations competing. As in Mongolia in 2018, the competition includes two teams of female riders, all of whom are extremely keen to join the GS Trophy brother- and sisterhood. The teams from the Netherlands, Malaysia, North Africa and the Middle East are all first-time entrants and their finalists are naturally excited by what lies ahead – the road (using the term loosely) less travelled.

What lies ahead is eight days and around 2,400 kilometers of adventure riding traversing both the North and South Islands. Some 60% of the route will be off-road, the remaining 40%, while sealed, will look much like European alpine roads. New Zealand is a country of barely five million people, and most of those are concentrated in the urban centers. The quiet roads scattered across the country lead through incredible landscapes, nearly always hilly and often mountainous.

The route starts in Rotorua, close to the center of the North Island in an area of active volcanic activity. It will end in the alpine ski-resort of Queenstown deep in the South Island. Along the way participants will enjoy the nature and culture of these remote islands while facing the competition’s challenges, including riding skills, machine knowledge and wilderness understanding. As always with the GS Trophy, the riders have to expect the unexpected at all times

Chris Zimmerman is the course director; he said, "New Zealand is the perfect off-road destination, it’s not only about the roads and trails, but the people here, with everyone you meet, you discuss the off-road riding and they love it. You see it in their eyes. Everyone here is so supportive. We have a great route awaiting and as ever we have that unique GS trophy mix of riding and special stages, it’s going to be a brilliant ride."

Overall director of the International GS Trophy is Ralf Rodepeter; he is also head of brand and product at BMW Motorrad. Not only is Rodepeter delighted with the venue and format of this year’s competition, he said, "I love the GS Trophy, it’s a wonderful ride and so much fun, but what I like most is seeing the people connect. Every day the teams are mixed so they ride every time with new nationalities and they’ll have an adventurous experience together, which creates this bond and understanding.

"Bringing in teams from North Africa and the Middle East this year is especially exciting, so we can honestly say we have riders from all over the world and all walks of life. And this is the spirit of the GS, bringing diverse peoples and cultures together, learning about each other and discovering and enjoying the nature, playing and adventuring. All this is set in this most beautiful of countries – I know I’m looking forward to this as much as the participants!"

The 2020 GS Trophy kicks off tomorrow morning. Check back each day for updates on the teams, and follow closely as BMWMOA member Lisa Taylor takes on its challenges!

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Back up - and behind

Posted By Dana Stover #45947, Sunday, December 15, 2019

Thirty years ago, I had an essay published in the 1989 August issue of BMW Owners magazine. Two years prior to that, I had purchased a 1987 BMW R80 and had taken my first solo ride of over 2, 600 miles, from Washington State to Minnesota and back. My essay cited an old research study whereby kittens wheeled through a maze in baskets never “learned” the maze, regardless of how many trips they made.

Kittens allowed to wander the maze on their own, however, quickly learned the route. It was a study on passive versus active learning and I, flush with excitement after my first solo ride, used it as an analogy about moving from simply following my husband on his bike, or riding behind him 2-up, to navigating on my own….and thus becoming a true “active learner” in control of my ride. Over the next several decades I put nearly 40,000 miles on my R80.

Flash forward 30 years and a new purchase in our family: a beautiful BMW R1250 RT. We immediately planned a trip to several National Parks in Oregon and California. Not relishing the idea of navigating California freeways, I agreed – with mixed emotion – to ride 2-up for this trip and left my R80 in the garage. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel being “back up and behind”. Was I giving up my control, “my” ride? Should I feel embarrassed, sad? But the trip was a revelation.

I experienced many of the same sensations as when on my own bike…the same tugging wind, the same smells of the countryside, the same chills or heat as we changed elevations, the same thrill of being exposed to all the elements versus sealed off in a 4-wheeled transport. But in addition, riding behind, I could gaze longer at the passing scenery, twist around in my seat to see a roadside attraction, stare up and identify passing birds.

True, I was no longer in control of my ride. But was I a passive rider? No, I don’t believe so. I was able to study the road ahead, forecast the line and acceleration of tight curves, anticipate jolts from bumps, recognize a tight passing window and adjust my posture accordingly. I was still actively involved in the ride. Does this make me uniquely qualified to be a good passenger? No, by no means. But I do think my decades of solo riding has made me a more knowledgeable and aware-of -the -road passenger.

I still believe my R80 and I have a few more adventures left. However, as the saying goes, to everything there is a season. And if I’m entering the season of being back up and behind, I think I’m okay with that. After all, it is still a 2-wheeled adventure and I’m going to enjoy the ride.

As a side-note, we enjoyed the first 2-up trip so much that a few weeks later we rode to southern Alaska from our Washington home. We both love the ride, together.

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Rules of the road for group travel

Posted By Susan Gibson #198777, Friday, November 15, 2019

I am a veteran motorcycle traveler and fortunate to do multi-week trips with my girlfriends all around the country over the last 10 years. Different friends, different groups, different destinations - but we all share the love of motorcycles and seeing the country on our two-wheel steeds.

I often hear negative comments about these adventures from both riding and non-riding friends. I’m told about the cat fights, drama, crying and being asked what happens if your bike breaks down - and these are just the things I can repeat here!

Below are touchpoints and recommendations for planning a trip I use for my ladies-only trips, but I’m pretty sure most of these will relate to any group road trips.

LEADERSHIP: A group needs someone to be in charge. The leader should not be bossy, but plan the routes, ensure everyone is hydrated and take on other mundane tasks of organizing a ride, be it four hours or four weeks. Someone needs to have the overall plan and be prepared to lead the ride because, in truth, most people don’t want to lead a ride. They just want to ride. Discuss this in advance so everyone has a part in the route planning and there are no surprises 10 days down the road. (Remember - surprises will always happen.)

COMMUNICATE with the group. Before the trip begins, ensure everyone knows the destinations, duration, approximate hotel nights and estimated costs. I find sending the route out in advance with my best estimates of where and when we will be at a destination is a good starting point. It won’t be enough once you are on the road. The group wants to know the night before where you are going, what time is KSU and what the overall goal for the day may be. Doesn’t sound difficult, but seven days into a trip the group leader might start getting sloppy with this. You have to let people know what the game plan is and communication is key.

EXPECT PROBLEMS: Things happen that will mess up your plans. On my most recent trip we had one dead battery, two bikes requiring trips to the mechanic for codes, multiple weather delays from storms, wind and heat, food poisoning and altitude sickness. All of these issues required me to make changes to the plan in the middle of the trip. Of course, back to communication, you have to talk with everyone and get input, but ultimately the group leader needs to make a decision.

MEDICAL: Be prepared with how you will deal with illness. For example, our food poisoning victim told us to go ahead and she would meet us on the road the next day. If someone is sick, will you hold up your trip or leave them behind? Sounds harsh, but it’s the reality when six people are traveling on their only two weeks off all year. By the way, we didn’t leave her behind. The dead battery on a Sunday in Dodge City, Kansas, gave the food poisoning time to ease.

If you have a chronic health condition make sure people know. Diabetics need to let the group leader know their requirements for meals, rest and other considerations. If the planned route takes you to 14,000 feet but you suffer from altitude sickness at 6,000 feet, let the group know. Are you allergic to bee stings? You leader needs to know where your Epi Pen is. Make sure you have all your medication with you along with drugs like anti-nausea, anti-histamines, pain killers and all of your prescriptions. Only you know what you may need. Bring it!

MECHANICAL: Have your owners’ manual with you on the bike or an electronic version on your phone. Know some basic things about your bike, like where is the battery, recommended air pressure in your tires, how many miles to a tank of gas. If you have had a problem with your bike, make sure you’ve addressed it before a road trip.

TOOLS: Have a set of tools for your bike on your bike. I have a BMW that’s all metric. Those tools aren’t much good for a Harley. Consider having an air gauge and a pump in the saddlebag. We’ve all heard of the air pump at the gas station that doesn’t work - or even worse, lowers the PSI in your tires.

LODGING: I never make reservations in advance unless it’s for a multi-night stay. Too many times my planned route has been altered due to weather or some other unexpected delay. Each travel day during the lunch stop I look to see how much farther the group can expect to ride and we discuss where we will stop. I’ve never had a problem getting a room, even during busy holiday times. But make sure your group agrees on the type of lodging. Some folks are fine at a Motel 6 but others need something fancier. Discuss this in advance.

MONEY: Everyone pays their share. I’ve never had a problem with this but we’ve always agreed in advance how we will repay someone. Will you split each night in a hotel? Will you PayPal someone daily? Talk about this so that everyone knows how money will be handled.

EXPECTATIONS: You can expect that everyone wants a fun, safe trip, but don’t expect that to happen without some bumps. Be flexible and resilient. At the end of the trip people will remember the beautiful vistas, the epic roads and the lifelong friendships forged on the road.

I hope these recommendations help to dispel some myths and misperceptions and inspire riders to hit the road on a glorious adventure. My road trip with my girlfriends is time cherished. Thanks to the time we spend planning before our trips, I can’t wait until our next one.

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