DRIES VAN DER WALT
GS ECO RIDERS IN SA: The 2014 BMW GS Eco raised R10 000 to provide much-needed stationery to selected schools in the Maselspoort area. Image: DRIES VAN DER WALT
Once a year BMW GS riders flock in droves to the annual BMW GS Eco, an event organised by BMW exclusively for GS motorcycles. For the 2014 event, BMW invited Wheels24 to join the run from September 11-14 at the Maselspoort resort just outside Bloemfontein for four days of dirt roads, camping and camaraderie.
The well-organised event followed an open-form programme, with riders free to either join organised rides or go it alone during the day before returning to the camp site for the customary skills challenge in the late afternoon.
To make it easier to plot where to go to, BMW had a variety of suggested routes (tar and dirt) to accommodate riders of any skill level.
ECO-THEMED BIKE ADVENTURE
To make sure that nobody was stranded, BMW-on-Call was on hand to recover broken-down or damaged bikes, while the local BMW dealership, Sovereign Motors of Bloemfontein, had a mobile workshop at the camp.
Participation was limited to 600 riders, with their optional pillions, to make sure the impact on the environment was kept to a minimum. The limit, said BMW, was part of the Eco theme to minimise the event’s impact on the environment.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 BMW GS Eco
The participants also had the opportunity to put their technical skills to the test in the annual GS Eco Skills Challenge which was divided into two categories, intermediate and advanced.
The 2014 winner was John Gray who won a wild-card entry to the 2016 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy National qualifiers. That means he won’t have to participate in the provincial qualifying rounds in 2015 as he automatically qualifies for the National qualifying round that decides who will make up the South African team.
Alex Baraka, BMW Motorrad South Africa's general manager, says the prize was introduced to give more South African GS customers an opportunity to enter the illustrious event. Bakara said South Africa was one of the most important GS markets in the world and the only market where BMW sold more GS Adventures than any other model.
Baraka said: “Our customers have also indicated that they would like to have the opportunity to qualify for the GS Trophy."
RIDING FOR CHARITY
The BMW GS Eco is more than just an opportunity for GS riders to get their machines dirty – it also supports worthy causes in communities in the immediate vicinity of the event venue. At the 2014 event, BMW Motorrad and participating riders also raised money for community projects and schools in Maselspoort.
Stationery for Africa, an initiative started by GS rider and off-road riding instructor Marchant Maasdorp to make a difference to children’s education by providing stationery, raised R10 000 to provide much-needed stationery to selected schools in the Maselspoort area.
The final word goes to Bakara, who said the BMW GS Eco was unique because of its magnitude: “To have 600 riders come together is amazing. It shows the enthusiasm our customers have for this brand.”