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BMW GS Trophy 2022, My Attempt and Failure - Issue #22

Adam Chandler on Motorcycles
BMW GS Trophy 2022, My Attempt and Failure - Issue #22
By Adam Chandler • Issue #22 • View online
I first threw a leg over a motorcycle five years ago and for some reason, I thought I was good enough to at least finish top 10. That was ignorant but I learned a lot about myself and further solidified what I believe is my place in this community….

My GS Trophy Qualifier Team, Albert, Alex, Adam and our fearless leader, Kerry from BMW Motorrad NA
My GS Trophy Qualifier Team, Albert, Alex, Adam and our fearless leader, Kerry from BMW Motorrad NA
Let’s get the meaty details out of the way first because this one may go long and I know most of you just want the high-level
  • I do not know where I placed in the qualifier. I was not in the top 15. I may be able to request my placement after the West Coast Qualifier takes place in 3 weeks
  • I did injure myself with a possible torn rotator cuff. I won’t know until the doctor can see me in 2 weeks
  • Rosie Red is A-OK. She suffered no mechanical damages and just earned a few new scratches
  • The 2022 Team USA East Coast Qualifier Winners are, Men: Ben Phaup, Ryan Bottesi, Kirk Graydon  – Women: Gala van’t Schip, Kate Coit
  • The finals are secret and the scores are as well. This is so the west coast qualifier can be run identically and the top 3 men and women can become Team USA. We won’t know if any of the 5 individuals above will be Team USA until west coast holds their qualifier @ RawHyde the 1st week of October
  • Everyone attending the east coast qualifier knows exactly how the event is ran, scoring, deductions, etc but we were all sworn to secrecy so please don’t ask for that information. There’s little value though in me detailing that after the event because every Qualifier (like the one that will happen in 2 years) has been scored differently. The things I heard done at the 2018/2020 qualifiers weren’t present in this one
  • There were 39 Men and 5 Women (I think, based on what I saw / heard) for east coast which is why I told Heather she should have seriously considered trying to qualify as it would have been a ton of fun. She chose to volunteer instead
  • Teams were in groups of 3 with one “team lead” that was usually a staff member or someone affiliated with BMW Motorrad. Each challenge had a volunteer (Heather was in charge of one of the challenges). You were scored by your team lead & volunteer then the two discussed their scores after and ensure fairness. For example, Heather wasn’t allowed to score me which is more than fair
The sand challenge which came after a 4x4 plank, heavy rock and tire traverse challenge all in one go..no stopping
The sand challenge which came after a 4x4 plank, heavy rock and tire traverse challenge all in one go..no stopping
About the challenges….
If I were to build a pie chart of the sort of skills you would need, it would look like this:
This is my interpretation of the East Coast 2022 Qualifier skills, not an official chart
This is my interpretation of the East Coast 2022 Qualifier skills, not an official chart
Keep in mind though that these challenges are only in place to find the top riders. I won’t get into the scores here or how people were picked for semi-finals but I will say that the scores between people was very tight up until the end and you did not need to excel at every category to be a semi-finalist.
Police bike was very high. In fact, the three professional motorcycle cops in the qualifier made it to the semi-finals. Navigating very tight on-road cone exercises was a challenge that I was not expecting to even be a part of this. The Trophy is off-road and I didn’t practice cones at all on-road. We’re talking tight figure eights, snow man, light-bulbs, slalom with angles that were next to impossible to make (tight slalom), turns within boxes then exits, elephant turns (off-road) and deductions for basically any kind of error you could make. If I wanted to qualifier in 2024, I would become exceptional at slow-speed police-bike maneuvers.
The rough terrain included slaloms up hill, down hill, up a mountain, down a mountain into a 180 degree turn with little to no space to turn, up stairs, through gravel/rocks/sand and balance beams and some single-track up and down hills sideways (as in not straight up and down but riding off-camber around cones then back up a hill with no runway on loose/muddy terrain).
Slow speed balance was a part of every single exercise except the team challenges. There wasn’t a single exercise where you didn’t need to be completely balanced atop your bike both standing & sitting (yes these were rules depending on the exercise)
I assumed physical and mental stamina would be higher but it wasn’t. if you’re healthy and can do woods riding for an hour, you’re healthy enough for this event. That would have been different if this was a typical Labor Day weekend in SC but temps were mid-70s and a nice breeze so I didn’t have to sweat too much. We had a lot of downtime where I’d spend 2 minutes doing a challenge then rest for 10-30 minutes. Stay hydrated and you’ll be fine. The rules weren’t there to trip you up. I took them all literally and I felt I did okay but I later found out there were some unspoken rules that frankly, upset me. I can’t go into detail here but now knowing I had DNFs for rules that I didn’t know existed is pretty frustrating. I spent 4.5 minutes on a steep hill getting my bike picked up and positioned only to find out a few hours later, I probably DNFed that event. I would have just rolled down the hill and let the next guy go if I knew that
Staff + Volunteer keeping track of points as semi-finalist Wayne completes a course
Staff + Volunteer keeping track of points as semi-finalist Wayne completes a course
My preparations for this event were sparse. I did a lot of hard riding on my bike and that’s it. I thought about the qualifier every time I did something at slow speed off-road. I worked for a few days on slow speed elephant turns, skid-turns and loose-terrain full lock turns.
All I know is that I was not in the top 15. 16th? Probably not. No one in my team made the semi-finals and we were all competent riders. I don’t think it was pandering for Aaron, who runs the BMW US Riders Academy, to say that we were all top riders for even being here. A lot of GS owners were sitting at home while we were trying to qualify for team USA. I didn’t see a single rider who was ‘bad’ or needed a level 1 RawHyde course because they were too afraid to drop their bike or leave pavement. These were all great riders and we were heavily challenged. That is not an exaggeration. A few people who I spoke to that were in the past 3-4 qualifiers as participants or volunteers told me this was the most challenging qualifier they had ever seen. I went into this thinking it was 50% skills and the rest of the qualifier would be made up with style, attitude, perseverance, team work and how well I am on camera. Seriously, this is a BMW Motorrad Marketing event, of course they want people who are good with their team and on camera. Turns out this as entirely skills based which is how it should be so I was wrong in that regards. Not that I acted any differently but throughout the day, when I spent my entire lunch hour on Friday helping a buddy with his steering issues, I figured there’d be a mole who’d see that and grant me a few extra points. I was wrong.
Fresh and Ready for the 1st challenge on Friday morning
Fresh and Ready for the 1st challenge on Friday morning
Here’s what I learned at the Qualifier that I didn’t know going into it. I don’t want a free trip to Albania to represent Team USA. There are people who want that badly enough that they practice for over a year all of the skills I lacked and they do extremely well. They usually have other goals, either a life bucket list or they want to gain the notoriety because their livelihood depends on it because they work for a training academy or accessory company and they want to add GS Trophy to their resume. Me, I just want to spend a weekend with like-minded people, ride GS bikes and have a great time but most importantly, I want to capture these events on film.
Wayne on the sand
Wayne on the sand
I had some fantastic conversations with the BMW Contracted Photographer throughout the event. I don’t want to be him but I envied his ability to photograph this event. All I wanted to do at each challenge was run it one time then throw a drone up in the air or run alongside a competitor with my SLR in a gimbal and video-tape their run or grab my SLR from the tank bag (absent for this event) and get a photo of any one of the amazing riders I was surrounded by. The 2 hours after I finished my challenges running around capturing the photos you see here were my favorite moments of the entire event.
Gala (#1 Woman) and Dmitri (#4 Male) going into the Semi-Finals
Gala (#1 Woman) and Dmitri (#4 Male) going into the Semi-Finals
If you take a step back and look at my place in the BMW community, I am 1st and foremost a motorcycle rider but, if you look at the bigger picture, I’m a historian and documentarian for this community. I’m on the Vermont & National boards and I help lead rides, organize events, market events and get new riders into our sport but through it all, photos, video, audio are things I create and broadcast and it’s what I love doing. I can leave my house, ride 500 feet and ride off-road all day on my GS or dirt bike. I get to do this kind of riding all of the time. What I can’t do all of the time is be with people who are just like me and capture their smiles and celebrate their successes. This is unique to the events I attend and something I take very seriously.
Smiles following the first-round of cuts
Smiles following the first-round of cuts
I don’t want BMW to hire me to be a photographer but I do want to find some way to continue attending events yet be there to capture them from my standpoint. It’s a part of this that I really love. So much that I will sign up for the next qualifier in 2 years and just take photos the entire time if they’ll let me. Knowing that BMW’s photographer will be sending all of his images to BMW and there they will sit in some folder used only for marketing when a lot of participants would love photos of themselves and most will never get to see the entire set of images, it feels criminal. This is a BMW event…they paid for the photographer but those pictures belong to all of us and we’ll never get to see ourselves. I know the photographer was present for me on 3 of my challenges. He has photos of me looking like a bad-ass and falling off my bike…I’ll never see those photos. It sucks knowing they’re out there and in a corporate Sharepoint site locked away.
Louise Sporting the X3
Louise Sporting the X3
Who knows, I may also attend the 2024 GS Trophy Qualifier cheering on Heather because she things she’d really like to try her hand at it in 2 years and I will absolutely be there to support her.
Heather and I
Heather and I
This was my first exposure to BMW Corporate as well. They’re a customer of ours @ my day job and I’ve been to the Performance Center and I’ve been heavily involved with the clubs and community that surrounds their motorcycles but attending a corporate event showed me that the GS Trophy exists to sell motorcycles. We were the actors on a stage set to sell GS Bikes to more people and I think the media that comes out of this will work but the amount of people out there who ride with me on GS bikes who don’t know what the GS Trophy is too DAMN high. I want GS Trophy full size banners at every dealer, I want mass email broadcasts going out to GS customers and I want live interviews with the winners on YouTube. I want every single BMW GS owner to know about this event and follow everything live from start to finish covering every qualifier, winner and team from training to the final event next year in Albania. The marketing just feels so sporadic. I love BMW motorcycles and I love the riders in our community of GS Adventure Touring Riders but the Trophy is an amazing event built just for us so BMW can sell more bikes and the amount of work and money that goes into it is very high for so little online activity following it. That’s my opinion as an individual and not of my various club affiliations or my employer. I write this as a GS owner who wants to see more GS owners at the qualifier in 2 years. I want to fight people for a spot and not have tickets still on sale a few days before the event.
Our Staff who ran the event from start to finish
Our Staff who ran the event from start to finish
The ‘boots on the ground’ staff from Performance Center & BMW Motorrad NA were AMAZING. What a fantastic group of people who made this event awesome. There was so much work that went into preparation, organization and execution. Truly a team effort and I have a huge appreciate for how much they did to make this happen! I hope we get to do the event here again in 2 years.
Our Amazing volunteers & one of the finalists
Our Amazing volunteers & one of the finalists
My team leader who works for BMW and was an amazing coach!
My team leader who works for BMW and was an amazing coach!
Above, our volunteers who showed up Thursday and gave 20 hours of their time over Three days to coach, help, guide, mend the competitors. These unpaid helpers were all smiles and worked their butts off. I’m glad to call a few of them my friends now and I hope to see them again.
I’ll leave you all with a few more photos of me competing. These photos are sourced from 4 different people who shared them with me after the event.
Playing on the hills
Playing on the hills
Team Challenge
Team Challenge
Chatting up the volunteers
Chatting up the volunteers
Going through cones while going over obstacles
Going through cones while going over obstacles
No foot down 90 degree turn on a hill w/o hitting a cone
No foot down 90 degree turn on a hill w/o hitting a cone
Dabbing and DNFing at an obstacle course
Dabbing and DNFing at an obstacle course
Riding the Plank
Riding the Plank
Tight Turns on-road
Tight Turns on-road
Slalom in Water
Slalom in Water
Picking up the bike un-assisted on a hill
Picking up the bike un-assisted on a hill
Here are a few more photos I took with my camera in the 2 hours I was running around as challenges come to a close for the general qualifier before the semi-finals took place. Semi-Finals / Finals were not allowed to be captured so we could keep things fair for the West Coat qualifier:
Cassie aka Full Gear Female, before the Semi-Finals
Cassie aka Full Gear Female, before the Semi-Finals
Chris from NH who did all of the challenges in one day after arriving late
Chris from NH who did all of the challenges in one day after arriving late
90 degree turn off the tires before sand
90 degree turn off the tires before sand
Perfectly Planked
Perfectly Planked
Awaiting to hear if they were cut
Awaiting to hear if they were cut
"Reserved for A. Chandler"
"Reserved for A. Chandler"
Sunrise @ The BMW Performance Center
Sunrise @ The BMW Performance Center
Getting ready for our challenges - 7AM on Saturday
Getting ready for our challenges - 7AM on Saturday
Wayne, who made the semi-finals changed from Anakee 3 tires to TKC80s at 10PM at the MOA headquarters. My headlights kept him going
Wayne, who made the semi-finals changed from Anakee 3 tires to TKC80s at 10PM at the MOA headquarters. My headlights kept him going
Driving home as both a loser and a winner
Driving home as both a loser and a winner
…and that’s it. That’s the 2022 GS Trophy Qualifier East Coast hosted at the BMW Performance Center. I spent $400, drove 2200 miles and was atop my bike for 2.5 days and slept on the ground so I could attempt to get a free trip to Albania. What ended up happening was a lot of self-realization, a lot of laughs and some new friendships. You can’t put a price on all of the dividends attending this event will give me. I’ll see many of you again in 2 years but this time, I’m hoping to be standing alongside all of you as a photographer and cheering on Heather as my wife and participant.
PS: A video is coming. It’s a lot of content and I have a busy week ahead.
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Adam Chandler

This is my weekly ramblings about motorcycling. For the most part, these will be editorials you will have seen in regional and national motorcycle publications or longer posts and ride-reports as seen on ADVRider.com. Occasionally, I will post content here that is exclusive to paid subscribers and eventually be made free for all. Thank you.

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