BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Central Asia 2018. Day 5. The grass is greener

2018 BMW F850GS

Camp Munkh Tenger, Kharkhorin, Mongolia. A day of two halves today, on Day 5 of the 2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy in Mongolia. In the morning the GS riders continued their journey with a 100 km ride across more of the semi-arid Mongolian Steppe. In the afternoon the riders entered into a new world, a mountain landscape where sheep, cattle and horses grazed on green pastures and the fragrance of alpine flowers scented the air – an intoxicating mix after the sparse nature of the desert.

The morning certainly was an endurance test as first the riders took on special test 12, ‘Ongi River’ – a classic multiple river crossing. The challenge here wasn’t the water, which was shallow, but the shingle banks that were deep! Best run of the day came from Team Ausamerica, the second female team, not on account of their speed but for applying exceptional teamwork. The 100 km ride down Telegraph Road was not a romantic as the song (by Dire Straits) suggests, as the riders had to settle in for a long haul, with many sections of the gravel tracks rippled by trucks and at the end came a 35 km section of trail that weaved between grassy tussocks where again dust clouds and loose sand meant the riders needed to stay alert. The hard yards of the morning were repaid in kind when the GS riders reached the mountains and green valleys of the Khangai Nuruu National Park, where clay mixed with the sand (instead of rock) making for gentle trails that climbed and descended one valley after another. The riders were spellbound by the vibrance after the emptiness of the desert. A truly magical ride. A second special test late in the day, called ‘Orhon View’, saw the riders challenged to a trials ride around some giant stones on a high peak (with spectacular views). A great test in the most incredible location. When the GS riders finally reached camp, some as late as 7 pm (having started at 7 am!) they had just a short time before facing another special test, the ‘Metzeler Challenge’, that saw them tackle a tyre change against the clock. And after that, the final task of the day – a rush to submit their photos for the day’s Photo Competition. In all an exhausting, yet enervating day.

Quotes: Apis Sagimin, Malaysia, Team Southeast Asia: “Today was an awesome day with the landscape changing so dramatically – very very different to what we’ve had so far, the ground turned green with grass and we rode into the mountains and many river crossings – we haven’t seen a river since we’ve been here so this was special. For me riding is a long journey, it is not a race, but today our team could still feel happy about our performance in the special tests, we improved on yesterday. But I miss the sand, it was exciting to ride!” Craig Keyworth, Team UK: “We’ve had a good day – we’ve maintained our consistent averageness in the special tests! But the highlight of the day was when we rode into some amazing views just after lunch – this was what we were expecting from Mongolia. I even picked my spot for where I’d build my house if I were ever to move to Mongolia! It was so spectacular that today was the slowest I’ve ridden in all the five days – so I could take it all in.” Konstantin Zolotarev, Team Russia: “It was perfect today, after the Gobi Desert to come into this green valley and fields of green grass was an amazing feeling. Yet our highlight so far has to be our time next to the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert. While we were sad not to ride in them we’ll remember them always for the sandstorm that hit the campsite that night. One of our tents tried to fly away but we managed to save it, and we saved a guy from the Mexican team as well who really struggled with his tent. We were fighting our way around the campsite in our goggles as the sand flew and in the end the Mexican had to spend the night in one of our tents with us! In the challenges we are doing not so bad, not so good, we’re somewhere in the middle. The GS Trophy for us is about the experience, the emotion, meeting the other teams, this is the most important part of the GS Trophy; the challenges are just part of the game, it is fun but not more. The sharing of travels through this amazing country is the main event.”

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2018 Central Asia.

Day Three overall standings:

1 South Africa 195

2 Latin America 139

3 Korea 131

4 USA 130

4 France 130

6 Mexico 114

7 Argentina 106

7 Russia 106

9 UK 103

10 Germany 98

11 Australia 80

12 Canada 76

13 China 75

14 Southeast Asia 74

15 Japan 65

16 Eurafrica (female team) 43

16 India 43

18 Ausamerica (female team) 40

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