Day 4 is officially Hump day of the GS Trophy. Not only is it Wednesday, but three days of competition have been completed, and three are yet to come. Today was a loop day, meaning riders did not have to break camp-they rode a loop in the surrounding area and returned to Farma Sotira for a second night. However, that did not mean the day would be easy.
Today featured 125 kilometers of riding, 80 of which were technical off-road trails. The team left camp along with Team Thailand, but missing journalist Justin Dawes of Cycle World magazine-who has been at the event providing coverage for the team-remained in camp to have an injured ankle evaluated by event doctors. Despite being down a man, the team reports it was a fun day of technical riding, and they enjoyed the terrain greatly.
First up for special stages was the Farma Sotira Trials Relay. This was a three-part trials course, with one team member staged at the beginning of each section. The first rider started on the marshal’s mark and rode his section. He finished by riding up to the next rider and high-fiving his teammate. That rider would then start their bike, ride their section, and high-five the remaining team member. The third rider was to ride their portion of the course and end at the base of a ramp to a trailer, dismount the bike and load it on to the trailer while team members strapped it in place.
Time stopped when bike was secured and hands went up. Points were added to the final time for dabs, drops, crossing borders or stepping on the fender of the trailer. The team did well, adding a couple of points for a dab in the elephant turn (a very tight turn designed to make riders decide if they were going to take the dab point to make the turn and not add time, or if they would risk more points by crossing the border) and another point for knocking over a cone in the final slalom. What made this challenge especially interesting is that it was designed for three riders, but the women’s teams-and team Japan today-only had two riders. This meant one rider had to complete two sections of the course, and there were only two people to accomplish balancing and securing the bike.
The second challenge of the day was the traditional Navigation challenge. Teams were given a GPS and had to start off on foot-in riding gear-following arrow navigation to a spot where another GPS was stashed. Once they located the second GPS, the needed to transfer a waypoint from the second GPS to the one they were carrying using the Bluetooth transfer method. Once complete, the team ran back on foot to the start and time ended. Difficulty getting the Bluetooth connected slowed down the team, as did transferring the waypoint with the added pressure of competitive time constraints. When winners were announced after dinner, chief marshal Chris Zimmerman said overall the women were simply faster than the men. He also mentioned that perhaps the men should just ask for help in navigating from the women, eliciting good-natured laughter form the whole crowd.
The final Special Stage of the day was the ever-popular Slow Race. Each team member rode from start to finish in their own lane as slowly as possible. Dabbing a foot, dropping a bike or touching a lane line stopped the time for a rider, and riders were not allowed to touch other motorcycles. One rider of Team USA touched a line, so the team only had two good times to stand on for this event. Unlike all the other timed events in this competition, teams wanted this time to be high. The higher the number, the slower they were able to go. Word from the competition was that this was some of the best slow racing ever seen at a GS Trophy, apart from Team France that one year. If you know, you know!
Team USA finished 5th in the first stage, 11th in the second, and 10th in the third. This placed them at 11th overall for the day, falling three spots on the full leaderboard to 8th. Women’s Team Germany is still on top of the leaderboard for the women, and Men’s Team UK reclaimed their spot at the top today. It may seem like Team USA are headed the wrong direction, but there is still a lot of 2022 International GS Trophy left. Keep an eye out, as there will be one more opportunity for you to help the team gain points!