Live From Thailand: 2016 GS Trophy Update 3

Day 2 Review: A Race to Recovery, Pai to Mae Hong Son

BMW GS Trophy race, abandoned Huey helicopter on the trail
Like boys at summer camp: Tom, Dennis, and Charles play GI Joe on an abandoned helicopter in the mountains of Thailand.©Motorcyclist

What is it about food in a foreign country that can turn inside out? I don't know because I didn't look it up, and fortunately none of Team USA has that to worry about. Most of the week in Thailand now and we are all Raisin-Bran regular! Wish I could say the same for the Internet which is… well, let's just say, "in the toilet" would be an improvement. happily, Day 2 saw a huge upswing for Team USA.

The day that would end in a solid comeback started with the bright sunrise, followed almost immediately by a climb out of Pai toward the ridgelines and hillsides north of the town. Charles, Dennis, and Tom enjoyed the early scenery, but we're happy to see the roads get narrower and rockier later in the morning (though it's never tough enough for the squad). The trail led past an abandoned helicopter, which offered a photo opp and doubled as the spot for a special test.

BMW GS Trophy race, under the bridge
A race with no bridge. One special test today was to get from the far side of the bridge to where this photo was taken, taking the route through the dry creek bed. Gelande no strasse!©Motorcyclist

And a test is exactly what it was; pop quiz! Name the closest bordering country to Thailand from our current location, the exact displacement, weight, and horsepower of an R1200GS, and the tire sizes. Off the top of your head, in three minutes, go! Truth be told, this is exactly the kind of information the self-respecting journalist would have stored close to the surface of his or her brain. Alas, I'm not up on my GS stats like I should be, and knowing we were closest to Myanmar didn't win the quiz. It was a poor showing, but fortunately the worst of the day.

Just before lunch came Special Test #2 of the day. The scene was a bridge over a mostly dry creek, and the teams were told to get across to the other side without using the (fully functional) bridge. A choppy but clear road was visible, and teams tackled it hard, knowing that the fastest time would win. Some teams tipped over, stalled, and/or missed the finish line stopping point and were penalized. Not the Yankees. Team USA didn't have the fastest time, but the boys all rode exceptionally well and made no mistakes.

BMW GS Trophy race, scenic Thailand
USA, get it? Tom, Charles, and Dennis show their patriotism, overlooking scenic Thailand.©Motorcyclist

The afternoon descent out all of the wilderness took us in and out of thick forest, along more ridgelines, and through rural villages. And finally, some slightly more technical riding in the form of single-track trails running alongside horribly washed-out roads as we exited Huai Nam Dang National Park. The final 40 or so miles to Mae Hong Son were paved, and a lot of them stellar, twisty roads. The dirt-oriented Metzeler Karoo tires are not great for blacktop, but it was still an excellent ride. To quote Charles, "It was nice to have a less crash-ey day today." Yes indeed!

Adjacent to camp for the night there was a third special test of the day in the last couple of hours of sunlight. Two lanes were taped off next to each other for a push-and-reverse test. Each team had to push their bikes to the end of the lane, stop with the front wheels touching rears, and then push the bikes back(ward) to the start/finish line, all without tipping over or touching the tape. For, "a bunch of old guys," (Tom's words, not mine) Team USA kick ass. Again, not the fastest, but the guys demonstrated the finesse of reversing a bike manually and took home solid points.

GS Trophy race, standings
Team USA (second from right) is back in the hunt, but still has work to do to catch the teams from South Africa, the UK, and Latin America.©Motorcyclist

A total of 42 points were scored by Team USA on Day 2, for a two-day total of 59 points. South Africa took the overall lead today, scoring 53 points on the day for 85 total. Team USA climbed from 'we-didn't-even-want-to-count' to 8th place in the overall standings. Don't call it a comeback! Tomorrow, the boys and I hit the trail at 7 AM, ready for more dust, dirt, and surprises.