GS Trophy 2012
GS Trophy Day 5
It sounds like a cliché but with each day of the GS Trophy, the landscape and riding just keeps on getting better and better. Today's second Marathon stage saw the riders share a memorable journey that would see them leave Argentina for the final time and head back into Chile.
The 5.45 wake-up call was far too early for most, but there was a long way to travel today, so the mission of the organisers was to 'get the show on the road' as soon as possible.
By 7am, with tents packed, bags loaded and breakfast eaten, the first GS bikes left Peuma Hue, heading north on paved roads to Bariloche and Villa Angostura, past the Siete Lagos (seven lakes) and San Martin de los Andes, before heading west towards the border at Charirrine.
Today was the day that the Trophy saw its first rainfall and in fact it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the riders as the damp tracks meant that the volume of dust was greatly reduced, making for better visibility. Persistent rain then turned some of the tracks to mud, adding yet another riding challenge for the Trophy teams.
Arriving at what seemed like the smallest border post in the world, the entire Trophy 'circus' was ushered through with remarkable efficiency, with friendly smiles and quick exit stamping of everyone's passports. What followed was 50 kilometres of the most amazing rainforest trail, with a dirt road made of volcanic ash testing riders skills to the maximum.
This 'no man's land' between the Argentinean and Chilean border posts was a sensory overload of the wonders of nature, with many species of tree and shrubs unique to this region. The Parc Nacional Lanin also contained the remnants of the Achen Niyeu volcano, where a massive lava eruption four centuries ago spurted molten rock seven-and-a-half kilometres down the valley, leaving wide lava fields scarring the landscape for eternity. The road was incredibly narrow and the scenery reminiscent of a tropical rainforest, but the route showed up clearly on everyone's BMW Motorrad Navigator GPS system.
On entering the Chilean border post, the officials had employed extra staff, thanks to some advance warning by the GS Trophy logistics team, making this second crossing just as relaxed as the first one. From the border, more excellent riding followed all the way to the overnight stop at Hotel Baobab in Huilo Huilo – a private eco park containing 60,000 hectares of rainforest, close to the Mocho volcano. Surrounded by ancient forest and breathtaking waterfalls, it was an awe-inspiring place for the GS Trophy teams to put their tents up.
Because of the 'Marathon' distances involved today (with around 10 hours needed to cover approximately 400 kilometres of tough riding) there were no Special tests where active riding was involved. With so long in the saddle, the teams deserve a relaxed evening among new friends from around the world, before they start day six – the penultimate riding day of the 2012 GS Trophy.