Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 BMW GS Challenge recap

OK, so I went.  The end.


You want more?

Oh, OK.

a Big HELLLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!! to all 2 of my fans out there!

Life has been hectic and crazy.  I have neglected my blog for a bit and it needs some updates, so as they say at JetLife Stadium, heeeeeeerrre we go!

GS Riding

Captain USA has been set up and ready to ride in the dirt.  I took the Max BMW offroad class a few months ago, and did not get a chance to do anything meaningful with the new skills, until The Trophy Challenge.

Every two years, BMW bring sin riders from countries spanning the globe, to compete on spec bikes in some far flung exotic location.  On alternate years, they establish teams for each country participating at tryouts.  This year, the tryouts were in Greer, SC at teh BMW facility.  I had to take part.

I went into the event knowing full well I would not make the final team.  I don't have the skills needed yet, but I also knew the event would (should) be fun.  I also knew that any of the challenges put before us would be "doable" on the bikes we were riding.  So I looked at this outing as a chance to get out there, in a controlled environment, and test my skills on the GS.

My preparation entailed adding larger footpegs to Captain USA.  I felt that was adequate.  Others, namely those who made the team, actually practiced their skills and worked hard at getting ready.  Fools.

Heading Down

So I get on the bike and I ride like the wind, or more accurately, like a snail.  I was going along at a car's pace.  Keeping up with traffic, just doing my thing.  I figured that with a 700 mile trip in front of me, and plenty of time, I would smell the roses.

Left NJ at 1:00 AM.  It was 50 degrees.  NBD, I will just plug in my heated liner.  Except I had done some work on the bike and forget to hook the Gerbings connector back.  Sweet.  I had to get gas in the first 100 miles.  I really hate that.  I prefer to run along at least 200, but what are you gonna do?

Then, I got to DC and got some more gas.  I also filled up my auxiliary gas can thing.  And promptly over filled it.  And the overflow ended up on my helmet.  Awesome.

Riding along and I see a flash in front of me.  WTF was that?  Look down at the dash and see LAMPF!, which is German for "Your headlight just blew".  Luckily, I had recently installed Denali DX lights on the bike and I literally could not see a difference from before the headlight went out.  Those lights are BRIGHT and very directional, so I was in fine shape.

Around 8:00 AM, I was getting a bit tired, so I decided to take a nap.  Found a municipal building and Library with a little garden.  Conked out and grabbed a quick 30 minutes. 

Got up and motored on, until I was really feeling like breakfast, which was had, at a Dairy Queen.  I had not seen this before, but the DQ had full on breakfast menu, like a diner.  Pretty sweet.

I had Gerbing HQ on my route.  My liner had been burning me on occasion and I wanted them to check it out.  The facility was a lot larger than I thought it would be.  Stopped in, and they were nice enough to look at the liner and diagnose the problem.  It seem the male portion of the connector for the heatroller can get squished a bit, and that introduced resistance, and dumb riders like me get burned.  Quickly fixed and on my way.

Remember my "smell the roses" plan?  That held in place until NC.  I was on some highway, and a cager was sitting next to me texting and weaving.  Decided to get the hell out of there and put some space between us.  Aaaaand got a performance award.  Sweet.

Lunch time came around, and I ate at Hill Billy's BBQ.  OMG, so good.

I had planned on spooning on new rubber in SC, but the performance award negated that plan.  The TKC 80s I had on there were in good shape, so NBD.  Instead, I checked into the hotel, stripped the bike down for the event, ate some crappy grub and went to bed.

Day 1

I got prepared, which in my case means, eating breakfast and putting on my Captain USA outfit.

I followed some other riders to the performance center, which was about 3 miles form my hotel.  Checked in, got my swag and my rider number, 34.  I have some numerical superstitions, and 34 was right around mid pack, which is where I was hoping to end up, so I was encouraged.  Foolishly encouraged, it turns out.

I will make this comment once, so as not to bring down the tone of this posting, but the organization at the event was very un-German.  I will leave it at that.

We were broken out into teams of 15, I believe.  Each team was given a color.  We were purple.  GO TEAM BARNEY!  Looking around, there were a good spread of bikes, riders, equipment and skill.  And right there, behind me, is another rider wearing my helmet.  How dare he?

Day 1 Exercises

Slow race.  Easy peasy.  I practice this all the time.  Standing on the pegs.  We had to remain seated.  ZERO points.  Booo.

Figure 8
Just like it sounds, nothing crazy here.

Long Slalom
Even Easier.  

Trial Stop Slalom
Uphill, challenging, but straightforward.

Box 720
two complete turns, both directions, inside a box.  Tricky.  Made it, but lost points for hitting cones, etc.

Long straight slalom
How much easier could this get?  A straight slalom?  Come on.
Oh, what?  I managed 4 out of 12 cones?  Oops.

Board ride
Fast and easy.

Max points for a 35 MPH swerve.  I was probably around 30.  Ah well.

Here is the score sheet from Day 1.  See all that purple towards the bottom?  Yeah, we were not the top performers.

Had dinner and a beer with a new friend from NYC, who happens to ride a 2012 Rallye bought from Max.  Funny.


Team Purple didn't do great, but we did have fun.  A member of our crew went out and bought us all pony tails.

There was a LOT of this during this event

Day 2 AM Exercises

Hill U Turn
Climb a small hill, make a u turn, come down the hill.  Straightforward.

Steep hill climb, down, turn ABS
Climb a steepish hill, crest the top, down the other side, and make a turn at the end.  Pretty simple.  Except if you forget to turn off your ABS.  Then it goes something like this:
Climb the hill, crest the top, look down, ease over the top, start down the hill, grab some brakes AND WHOOAAAAAAA I AM NOT STOPPING!!!!!!!  Blew the turn at the end.

Good sized whoops, well separated, and easily done.

Slalom through a gravel trap.  I have never ridden in gravel before, so I did my best.  Touched downa couple times, but kept the rear wheel churning and made it through.

Big concrete culverts,  side by side, and you ride over them.  Intimidating looking, but not that hard in practice.

Dirt slow speed slalom, again, pretty straightforward.

Figure 8
In the dirt.  Managed to get through it with minimal loss of points.  I think I dabbed once or twice.

About 50 feet of large rocks.  Kept up momentum and made it through.

Fun Zone
We had the opportunity to play in the fun zone.  Bunch of exercises and dirt and whatnot.  I am not in the best of shape, so I took my opportunity to rest.  Good call, since afternoon was tough.

Day 2, PM

Slalom over logs
Tight slow slalom course, with logs at each gate, where we had to trial stop.  Definitely tough.

Slalom climb
Wet rocks, slalom course, up a pretty steep hill.  Made it, but it had my attention.

Off Camber 270
Finished the uphill climb, then continued on.  No one letting us know where the start gate was, so I continued on until a corner worker jumped out and told me to back up.  Downhill.  Off Camber.  On Wet rocks.  I managed to drop Captain USA on both sides. Well, to be fair, I dropped him on the left side.  When he started to tip over on the right side, I pushed him over.

After that excitement I managed to get through the exercise.

Trail Stop Decline
Steep downhill.  Wet Rocks.  Trial stop at each gate.  Or you can just blast down the hill and get no points.  I did not have the skills to do this exercise.  So down the hill I went.

Big old car teeter.  Nice and wide, so it was easy, but you had to get pretty far past the midway point for it to activate.  I stopped a little short and had to put my foot down, but managed to complete the exercise.

Water Crossing
I have never done a water crossing.  This was more of a "Ride the River" rather than cross the river.   The obstacle was about 18 inches deep and about 100 feet long.  There are rocks at the bottom, which you can't see through the muddy water.  I made it 95 feet, before I managed ot dump the bike.  Running.  Into the water.  Soooo yeah.

After clearing the spark plugs, pumping out the water and changing the oil, all was well.

 And here are the results after 2 days of riding.

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