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Riding the Wild Path – BMW GS Trophy Qualifier 2023

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

To give you some feedback on this epic event I need to lean heavily on information given to me by our friends Gus and Mariëtte Maartens from Grotto to Gravel, simply because they attended the event, and I did not. If the full truth be known, it is not just that. Mariette has a gift for describing things in a way that is so special that to try and re-write them would be pointless.

The event was staged from the 8th to the 12th of November in that rugged, somewhat untamed, and spectacular part of South Africa, the Karoo. The precise location was at Derick’s Farm, a unique Country Trax Training Facility, just outside the village of Aberdeen. To fully understand what went down, here’s how it works.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

Pre-qualifiers are held countrywide whereafter the finalists gather for the Aberdeen shootout to see who will represent Team SA at the GS Trophy 2024 to be held in Namibia. What makes the final qualifier so special is that spectators get to get up close and personal with the competitors in that they get to ride the same route as the qualifiers. This allows GS riders a unique and challenging experience, testing their skills, and pushing the limits of man and machine. Fuelled by excitement and determination, riders prepare meticulously for the challenge that lies ahead.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

The Karoo is in some ways not dissimilar to Namibia. The route included long and very dusty gravel roads, sandy and rocky river crossings, and typical rugged Karoo terrain with the stunning Sneeuberge and Camdeboo Plains as a backdrop. As always the event embodied the spirit of GS, exploring diverse and remote environments, enhancing your spirit of adventure with like-minded souls. Competitors and spectators alike were treated to superb amenities and accommodation, meals, drinks, branded merch and gift cards.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

What followed was three days of spectacular, albeit challenging riding. As is often the case, riders learn much about the capabilities of their GS’s and perhaps even more about themselves. When the dust eventually settled it was Ruhan De Villiers, JP Boer and Morne Van Rooyen who qualified from a pack of supremely skilled GS riders, to represent SA at GS Trophy 2024 in Namibia.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

As the sun set on yet another GS Trophy final qualifier, riders rode off homeward, leaving tyre tracks in the Karoo sand that whispered tales of courage, friendship, and the sheer joy of conquering the unknown. Team SA…..Go get ‘em.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

Here is what Mariëtte Maartens had to say:

“In a world of rugged and untamed terrains, the BMW GS Trophy emerged as the ultimate test of endurance and skill for adventure motorcyclists.

“Riders from all corners of the globe would gather to participate in this exhilarating competition.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

“The event offered adventure motorcycle riders a unique and challenging experience, testing their skills and pushing the limits of the best adventure motorcycle ever built, the BMW GS.

“Over the past 5 years, my husband Gus and I have formed an unbreakable bond with a group of adventure rider friends. Through all the ups and downs, we have always supported and inspired each other.

Images source: Grotto to Gravel

“Though he couldn’t participate in any riding, due to his ill health, Gus was determined to see me through the challenging gravel routes and finish like a champion. It was his love and encouragement that pushed me to achieve more than I thought possible. I am forever grateful for his unwavering support.

“Unexpected alliances were formed with fellow riders from different regions, bonding over their shared love for adventure and motorcycles.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

“The competitors were divided into different groups and pushed each other to their limits. Through teamwork, they discovered that true victory was not just winning the competition but forging lifelong friendships.

“THANK YOU, BMW Motorrad South Africa for hosting such a special event and providing us with an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Images source: BMW Motorrad SA

“And so, as the sun set on the BMW GS Trophy Qualifier, riders rode off into the horizon, leaving behind tire tracks that whispered tales of courage, friendship, and the sheer joy of conquering the unknown.”

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Compiled by the ZA Bikers team.
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