Day 6: No river deep enough – BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020 Oceania

2020 BMW F850GS

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand: If day five of the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy had been upscaled, then day six was simply super-sized. The GS riders crossed the South Island west to east, riding 440 km over mountain passes and along the Canterbury Plain to reach Lake Tekapo, in the foothills of the Southern Alps, in the early evening. Along the way they encountered yet more mountain tracks, made multiple river crossings and, as Team Middle East were keen to point out, they’d been through that famous Kiwi experience: four seasons in one day.

The GS Trophy riders started the day as they always do, with a 5:30 am call to breakfast ready for a 7 am start. They then enjoyed a dawn ride along the west coast, heading south from Punakaiki Beach toward the port town of Greymouth. The one test of the day came early, just half an hour from the start. In ‘Rent-a-Ride’ the teams were challenged to ride a trials course twice, with two different riders recording as near as identical times as they could manage. With no timing devices permitted it came down to the third member of the team to pace the riders. At the same time, of course, they needed to ride the course immaculately with no footing or stops. And as part of the course was also submerged, it was a tricky enterprise start-to-finish.

Test finished, the GS riders passed through the Victorian gold rush town of Greymouth (which latterly became a port, and a farming and timber town, although these days tourism is an equal contributor to the economy). From here the GS riders turned inland, taking Arthur’s Pass to cross the mountains and enter the Canterbury Plain, although first came the Canterbury High Country where dramatic limestone escarpments rose tall in testament to the significant seismic activity that regularly reshapes the South Island.

Gravel roads then brought the GS riders across the gentler Canterbury Plain where for the first time on this cross-islands adventure arable farming mixed with pastoral as sheep and cows grazed next to fields of wheat and barley – a gentle calm beauty after the drama of the mountains. After a late lunch in Geraldine, the GS riders then took to the hills again, riding through the sheep stations of the Mackenzie Country where they found technical riding in the rocky climbs and descents and challenge in the many water crossings, as rocks and loose stone unseated more than a few.

The day ended at Lake Tekapo, located almost plumb centre of the South Island. The lake is in fact a reservoir built in the 1970s – it takes its sparkling blue-green hue from the silica found in the glacial waters that feed it – and is part of an extensive hydro scheme that provides New Zealand with 85% of its total energy needs. Along with energy taken from geo-thermal sources, New Zealand is close to achieving a total renewable, sustainable energy supply. With riders arriving in camp after 6 pm it had been another 11 hours riding day. Although only one test was completed the riders were more than happy given the challenge of the day’s riding and the never-ending spectacular scenery.


Rider quotes:

Jorge Osorio, Team Middle East:

“What an amazing day! We start with a nice test, very technical. Then we rode up the mountain pass, we saw massive slopes with waterfalls and a huge viaduct – and shivered in the falling temperature! The views were like we’ve never seen before – beautiful. And then we came to this amazing off-road route where we crossed glacial rivers and were riding up really technical climbs, it was amazing. And through it all we got to experience what the Kiwi’s call ‘four seasons in one day’, we had the cold, the rain and now the sunshine. Incredible.”

Gleb Koltsov, Team Russia:

“I came here as the team journalist but after we lost one of the riders due to visa issues I’ve become a participant too! And making me a participant is like an adventure – a real adventure – because I didn’t expect to be here in this situation; I didn’t prepare, I’d never ridden the BMW F 850 GS before. So now I’m doing every challenge, it’s a real challenge for me – and very exciting, if exhausting when I have to write my story every evening. Today, we’ve had a typical day for us – where we start the first test with a fail! But after that we relax and feel the emotions of the ride. Today was a great route. Our marshal, Jean-Luc took us on the toughest route, with big hills and so many river crossings, this has probably made it the best day of the trip so far. So thank you to Jean-Luc, it’s been amazing.”

Isabela Londomo Rivas, Team Int. Female Team II:

“Today was incredible. Very long, 440 km I think, with a spectacular route with gravel, rocks, hills, lots of river crossings and all the time the views were amazing. Today we rode together with the second international female team and being the first to leave in the morning we made it our joint mission to make it first to the camp at the end of the day. And we did this. So okay, it’s not a race – but we won!”


BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020 Oceania.

Day 6 overall standings:

1 South Africa 309

2 France 302

3 Italy 287

4 Brazil 260

5 South Korea 258

6 Netherlands 241

7 Russia 239

8 Middle East 217

9 Australia 215

9 Latin America 215

11 USA 211

12 Argentina 198

13 Japan 187

13 Mexico 187

15 Nordic 180

16 UK 172

17 India 166

18 Thailand 165

19 Malaysia 157

20 Int. Female Team I 127

21 North Africa 110

22 Int. Female Team II 98

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