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Coming to Terms with my Skills & GS Trophy Qualifier - Issue #21

Adam Chandler on Motorcycles
Coming to Terms with my Skills & GS Trophy Qualifier - Issue #21
By Adam Chandler • Issue #21 • View online

Two weeks and Two days until we head to the BMW Performance Center in Greer South Carolina where I’ll attempt to qualify for BMW’s Team USA and their GS Trophy in Albania set to take place next year. I started this year feeling confident in my skills but also a realist in that I knew I wouldn’t qualify but would do well enough to feel as if I gave it a good try. This year would be my ‘welcome to the trophy’ year where I’d show off some skills and have fun but aim to actually qualify a couple of years from now or later. The truth is, I ride off-road more than anyone with a GS that I know but now that I’m actually working on the skills needed to qualify, I realize how far I have to go before I’m considered a serious contender.
That begs the question, what is necessary to qualify? My understanding is it’s a measure of:
  • Technical know-how about the GS
  • Navigation soft-skills (using a Garmin NAV VI)
  • Style while on-course (standing, good body position, how you mount & pick up the bike)
  • Slow-Speed technical skills on-course
  • Team work and ingenuity
  • Stamina, fitness, cardio
The last three measures are where I am weakest and these are probably the most important when judges decide whether I’m worthy to be a part of Team USA. What do I mean?
I have never worked on slow speed skills. I barrel down very rough terrain every weekend on my 670 pound GS Adventure. I spent 10 days in Colorado riding the toughest mountain passes and did very well. I lead tours and take on really hard trails solo often bushwhacking my way through the woods sometimes with street tires. I’m very confident and @ home on my big adventure bike but these are not the skills you need for the GS Trophy Qualifier.
Technical Skills, to use a few examples are:
  • Full lock turns on loose terrain around barrels, trees and off-camber tree roots which have zero margin of error and no room for dabbing your foot
  • 180 degree turns on loose terrain where you have to break the rear wheel loose
  • 12" thick gravel runs without dabbing
  • Circling a barrel with a rope without letting the rope hit the ground
  • Slow Races where last person through the finish line wins which requires complete stops of the bike and dancing the front wheel without putting your food down
  • Moving tennis balls between PVC pipes which requires removing a hand from the handlebars, coming to a complete stop and starting back up again and put the ball in another pipe
I am pitifully bad at all of these. So bad that I honestly have no business even attempting any of them because I’d be in last place in every one of them. You can see it in two of my recent videos where I show just how bad I am
Training for the GS Trophy w/ Harry - BMW R1200GS & KTM 690 Enduro R
Training for the GS Trophy w/ Harry - BMW R1200GS & KTM 690 Enduro R
Go to 8 Minutes 4 Seconds In to see the obstacle course section
Go to 8 Minutes 4 Seconds In to see the obstacle course section
This all basically goes back to square one for me. I’m going to enjoy hanging out for 3 days at the Performance Center, a road trip with Heather, camping @ the BMW MOA headquarters and spending a lot of time with 45 people who are trying to make Team USA along with some volunteers, BMW staff, instructors and brand experts and just living the GS lifestyle for a few days over Labor Day Weekend. Qualifying will not be something I’m even trying to do. I’m going to try to do well for myself but I need to not let my anxiety or stress get the best of me.
…about that. I’m not competitive. It’s actually a very serious fault of mine and one I’ve never gotten over. When met with a challenge against other people, I just go home. I have to force myself to remember the GS Trophy Qualifier is a competition with myself and I’ll be able to survive the two days. If I get into my head that I’m going up against other people, I’ll quite literally drive off the course, get in the truck and go home even if I’ve only been there for one hour. I’ve alway dealt with it and it doesn’t help that I was an only child for most of my life and never played any sports or did any team events. As soon as I’m competing against another human, I just tap out. I did it at American Super Camp back in Delaware and I did it last week at the BMW RA Rally on their obstacle course. I just left. That feeling of ‘flight’ is a character trait I would LOVE to kill off but at 35, I think it’s with me for the long haul.
Enough of the GS Trophy, what about the RA Rally in Waynesville? First, Heather is amazing. She did such a great job riding around NC/TN roads with me for 2 days. I wish we were retired because leaving home and driving 1000 miles there on Thursday and then loading up the bikes and driving 1000 miles home starting Saturday Night is not much fun. We had a great road trip and a fun rally but I would have preferred leaving home on Monday and returning home a week later. 2 days of driving for 350 miles of riding sucks. It is what it is and, while we’re working full time, it’s the best we can do. Thank goodness the truck has a WiFi Hotspot so we were able to not take off Thursday from work and alternate working while the other person operated the vehicle. The truck already has 7500 miles on it and I’ve only had it for 2.5 months. We’re definitely getting our money worth here.
This was Heather’s first time riding her motorcycle outside of New England and she made a few wonderful breakthroughs.
  • She spent 2 straight days on very windy roads
  • She did 100 miles of Interstate (she’s never done interstate before)
  • She took on Tail of the Dragon after almost not going for it and did really well keeping about a 30 MPH speed the entire time
  • She did a hundred miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway with me
This trip, for her, did what it did for me back when I joined the Quebec BMW Club in 2018 for a week in Robinsville. We did 1,000 miles of riding in 6 days and I experienced a lot of new terrains on and off road and came back a more confident rider having spent a week on clay and windy roads. I think this trip served her very well!
The BMW RA Rally itself was a good time! Great people, huge props to Bob’s BMW for paying for dinner and coffee. We wanted to go to the GS Giants dinner but it wasn’t clear where or when it was so, given the huge rain storms, we headed out Saturday night and did half of our drive instead of sticking around for dinner. The rally had a good cell phone connection which I appreciated very much because I had a board meeting the first night we were there and the first morning. Heather and I always enjoy Asheville so we had to go through there and get breakfast and coffee one day. The only limiter I had was the full knobbies on the GS which are on for GS Trophy but they did better than I expected but if you watch those entire videos above, you’ll see that they break traction constantly when I’m riding.
Up Next? My 35th Birthday in New York City. We’ll grab Sushi and go to a Met’s game then it’ll be time to load up the truck and drive south for the GS Trophy Qualifier. I guess while I have you:
  • NYC - 8/26
  • GS Trophy - 9/3
  • Green Mountain Rally - 9/10
  • BMW MOA Getaway @ Sugarbush - 9/17
  • Wedding Weekend - 10/1
It’s going to be a BUSY month!
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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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