AMCN Interview with Amy Harburg by Paul Young.
The GS Trophy isn’t your average adventure ride, it’s both a highly technical and extremely physical challenge for all involved.
For more information on what the GS Trophy is about check out our previous blog post here.
For GS Safari and GS Enduro regular Amy Harburg, the events not only opened a new and enriching chapter in her life, they were also the catalyst and training ground responsible for her selection for the first multi-nation all-female team to compete in the International GS Trophy.
Australian Motorcycle News spoke to Amy from Thailand on the day after the gruelling weeklong event which tests the riders’ physical, navigational, mechanical and technical riding abilities.
How are you feeling?
Really good! I did alot of physical training for this, and as much bike time as I could. I knew I’d have to lift the bike, so I did a lot of back, core and upper body strengthening. Seven weeks ago I tore my thigh muscle so I wasn’t able to do much leg work. I had it strapped but it wasn’t a problem.
Tell us about the GS Trophy
Miles from BMW sent me a link to the website. I thought it looked amazing so I put in my video application with the help of Dave Darcy. It had to show my riding ability and passion for riding. I was selected top 10 for the finals in South Africa – three days of solid riding plus 13 special tests. I won day one, then on day two Stephanie Bouisson led, I was second and Morag Campbell was third. That’s how we finished.
And was it what you expected?
When we arrived in Thailand we had absolutely no idea what to expect from the route or the special tests. Each evening there was a riders’ briefing where they told us how many kay’s the next day’s route was, but we didn’t know what the special tests were until we arrived there. The longest day was 270km, and that took around nine hours. One day was only 140km, but there was a 10km section which took us around four hours.
Some of the tracks look tight!
I’ve never ridden single tracks as tight. It was only as wide as the GS wheels, and you were on the edge of a cliff. It’s not like you’ve got an option to turn around, or to say ‘I don’t want to do this,’ so you just look ahead and you do it.
What was the highlight?
Riding with my friends through this amazing country. Imagine the best trails you could find, your best friends and riding like you’re on the clouds. Riding with other people is great, riding with your friends is amazing, but riding with other girls who can ride this well is fabulous. Stephanie is a French enduro champion and has ridden in the ISDE, so her skills are phenomenal. Morag’s been riding for a few years back in South Africa, but she is just your average BMW punter like me.
How did you get into riding?
I took up adventure riding about nine years ago now. When I was young I had an interest in bikes, but never took the next step, until I saw Long Way Round. That’s when it all clicked, and I saw bikes as a great vehicle to go and see the world. It’s probably also what got me into BMW’s. So quite awhile after seeing the Long Way Round, I literally just woke up on day and thought ‘I’ve got to get my bike license.’ So I did, and a week later I bought my first BMW. Now I’ve got an R 1200 GS,
F 800 GS, G 650 Cross Challenge, and a Yamaha WR250R.
So how does the GS Safari and Enduro fit into the picture?
Without GS Safaris I wouldn’t have got the standard of riding I have now. They made me want to go and ride and start pushing boundaries. When you have this idea that you’re going to buy a bike and go adventuring, the next step is quite a big one. At my first GS Safari I didn’t know anybody, I arrived having just bought my
F 800 GS. The Safaris allowed me to explore that step in a fairly safe environment, and meet other people who do this sort of riding. They have been absolutely fundamental to the improvement in my riding ability. By the time BMW started the GS Enduro events, my riding had progressed and I wanted to give something more challenging ago. It was an amazing ride!
Have you done training?
I did the BMW Rider training after I got my R 1200 GS, and before I went to South Africa for the GS Trophy qualifying event. The BMW Off road training is incredible because they really know how to ride the 1200. They’ve got a girls’ only course in Dargle, NSW on 23-24 April which I’m going to be helping out with. It’s an honour to be invited to demonstrate my riding, and if anything I’ve done in the GS Trophy can encourage women to take up training that’d be fabulous, because it is really important.
Back to the GS Trophy in 2017?
Unfortunately, once you’ve done the GS trophy you can’t do it again, so if you do get the chance it’s literally a once in lifetime opportunity. It’s pretty cool. Being in the first female team, there were areas where perhaps we could have done better. There’s things that you don’t learn until you’ve actually done it. I’d love to be able to be able to help the next team, and give them some guidance on how to prepare.
I don’t know if that will be possible, but you never know.
Anyone you’d like to thank for helping you on your once in a lifetime GS Trophy experience?
Yeah! Big thanks to adventure Moto Australia, Altrider, Klim, CTI knee braces, Country Trax rider training in South Africa, and of course BMW Motorrad.
-Paul Young, Australian Motorcycle News.
This interview appeared in AMCN, Vol 65 No 18 and was used with permission.