International Motorcycle Competition in Tunisia October 15-24
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - October 10, 2008... Three BMW GS owners are about to embark on the motorcycle ride of their lives. Brad Hendry, of Thornton, CO; Jim Stoddard, of Middlegrove, NY; and Jason Adams, of Rosendale, NY -- the "Tunisia Three" -- will represent the United States in the inaugural BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy in Tunisia, October 15-24. They will be joined by three "embedded" journalists selected by BMW Motorrad USA to accompany Team USA: Dirt Rider Editor Jimmy Lewis, Cycle World Off-Road Editor Ryan Dudek; and writer Jonathan Beck.

Since their selection from a field of six GS owners at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, S.C. on August 28, Hendry, Stoddard and Adams have each prepared for the upcoming international competition in their own unique way.

Hendry, 25, manages a motorcycle dealership in Colorado and races extensively in on- and off-road competitions. He holds an AMA professional racing license for road racing and supermoto, and he is a professional level motocross racer locally. On Sunday, October 12, Hendry is poised to claim three roadracing championships and will celebrate both the end of a successful racing season as well as the promise of an international trophy on his racing resume.

ǣI thrive on competition, observes Hendry, who was voted Team USA leader by his fellow teammates in Spartanburg. ǣIm really excited to give my best effort.

Competing year-round and working out six days per week, Hendry feels well-prepared for the physical and psychological demands posed by the GS Trophy. The son of South African parents, he has considerable experience competing throughout the African continent.

Stoddard, 45, is a service manager for a large diesel engine manufacturer and a seasoned Hare Scramble, enduro and Iron Butt competitor in the Northeast. Last year, alone, he logged 34,000 miles on his BMW R 1200 GS Adventure.

Since his selection for the GS Trophy competition, his days have begun at 4:30 a.m. with a training regimen of aerobics, situps, and pushups. After work, he goes mountain biking. Several weeks ago, he got up at 2 a.m., road his GS 300 miles from his home in upstate New York to a friends home in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. He had a six-hour training session in the sand, and he rode back home the same day.

ǣIm so excited to do this, Stoddard says. ǣI wake up in the middle of the night and remind myself of what Im doing.

Adams, 36, is a theatrical lighting director for the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie. On his motorcycle, he prefers to take the road less traveled and he has ridden off-road in Africa, Central and South America, crossing the Andes twice. Adams has also ridden across the U.S., west to Idaho and east to the northern tip of Newfoundland, toured the pavement and dirt roads of Europe and Scandinavia on his Oilhead GS, and raced his BMW Airhead off-road (including the Sandblast, Black River, and West Virginia RallyMotos).

ǣTo beef up my desert riding skills, I've traveled to the Western deserts numerous times and the Sahara once, comments Adams. I do the majority of my own wrenching, and I can speak passable, if simple French, which may be helpful in Tunisia.

Living in the northeast gives him access to several miles of rocky, steep, tight and technical trails in his backyard, where he practices most days. During the past few weeks at the theater, Adams could be spotted running several flights of stairs from the lobby to the balcony (he says there are exactly 53 steps) and doing pull-ups from random bars throughout the stage area.

ǣI am incredibly excited and proud to represent the USA and BMW in this remarkable endeavor, he says. ǣWe have a strong team!
On Monday, October 13, Hendry, Stoddard and Adams will board separate flights to Milan, Italy, where they will join fellow GS competitors from Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan. On October 15, the riders and their identically prepared BMW F 800 GS motorcycles will travel by ferry from Genoa to Tunisia for the start of the ǣSurvivor-style competition in the Tunisian desert on October 16.

Fortunately, the Tunisia Three love to camp.

ǣI always look forward to camping, says Hendry. ǣWhen Im not racing, Im camping. So this will be like a holiday for me.

ǣMy wife, Lisa, and I motorcycle camp all the time, adds Stoddard. ǣIts just that this time, Ill be doing it without our queen-size air mattress. Im also really looking forward to the scenery in the desert.

ǣI would rather rough it and have this be an adventure. echoes Jason.

BMW Motorrad has provided each rider with an equipment bag, tent, sleeping bag, camping mat, headlamp, hydration pack, compass and Rallye Pro Suit. Competitors were asked to bring helmets, gloves, boots, goggles, sport shoes, tracksuit, fleece jacket, swim suits, sandals, suntan lotion, sunglasses, energy bars and mineral drinks, camping utensils, travel pillow, towels and personal hygiene items.

Riders, relatives and friends from home can follow the adventures of the Tunisia Three by reading their blogs posted on www.bmwmotorcycles.com.

The GS Trophy

The GS Trophy is not a race, but a lengthy and challenging ride, both on- and off-road, through the rugged countryside of Tunisia on new BMW F 800 GS bikes adapted by Touretech and Metzeler. The competition will include numerous tests in individual riding skills and group teamwork to overcome natural and manmade obstacles. Routes will be announced at the last minute, allowing competitors to demonstrate their navigation skills and team spirit characteristics which make competent enduro riders. Each machine has had a selection of Touratech parts added, all designed to protect the machine and rider from the African conditions.
ǣMany of the parts weve adding give increased protection against the conditions riders will face out in Africa, said Herbert Schwarz, Executive Director or Touratech. ǣFor each bike, weve added crash bars, a skid plate, installed small LED blinkers, foot-pegs with additional grip, foldable brake and gear change levers, hand protectors, and cross-brace protection pads for the handlebars.

ǣWeve added a modification to the front fender to raise it by 3cm because of the extra ground clearance that will be needed on certain terrain in Tunisia, Schwarz added. ǣWeve also installed a headlight protection grill, a special protector against stones for the radiator, and a chain guard. Other little extras include a tail rack that a small bag attaches to for everyday necessities, and all bikes are being fitted with Metzeler Karoo off-road tires, which are perfect for the conditions participants will encounter.

Schwarz is keen to stress that there have been no engine modifications whatsoever carried out on the F 800 GS machines, and that the majority of the work has been carried out to minimize the effects of crash damage, as he is expecting riders to drop the bikes on a regular basis due to the competitive nature of the event and the diversity of riding terrain on the courses.

The Road to Tunisia The Selection Process

The road to Tunisia began in June when all BMW GS and G 650 Xchallenge owners were invited to apply for an opportunity to represent Team USA against teams from Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain in the international competition, October 15-24. Nearly 100 riders made the first stage of the application process to be considered for Team USA.

ǣIn a country as big as the U.S., a single GS challenge/elimination for scores of riders would have been impractical, said Laurence Kuykendall, Community & Communications Manager for BMW Motorrad USA. ǣSo, unlike other markets, we relied on a paper process to start. Next year, we will probably have more regional challenges to initiate the selection process.

Five equally weighed criteria were used in selecting 20 semi-finalists from the initial pool of 96 applicants: Riding skill (the obvious skill for which all markets are testing); Experience, including competition (amateur, XPLOR GS, AMA Adv. Series, rallies etc.); Fitness (physical and mental); Ambassador (the ability and track record of getting the word out); and Teamwork (demonstrated ability to work well with others). All 96 original applicants were graded with 5 points for each criterion by four judges within BMW and Husqvarna Motorcycles NA, LLC for a total of 100 points possible per person. The top 20 point recipients were then further reviewed and judged by the references they provided.

The 20 successful riders were informed separately that they had advanced to the next round, while the 76 who didn't make the cut received a gift from BMW Motorrad to say thanks for participating and to encourage them to try again in 2009. The 20 International GS Trophy semi-finalists that remained were then subjected to further tests to determine a final shortlist. The six chosen riders were then invited at BMWs expense to participate in further testing at the BMW Performance Center, in Spartanburg, SC, on August 28.

In Spartanburg, seven judges evaluated the riding, leadership and teamwork skills of the six riders in a series of grueling challenges aboard equally prepared BMW R 1200 GS and G 650 Xchallenge motorcycles. Competitors navigated an offset slalom course, circle drill, controlled ascents and descents, an uphill slalom, sand recovery, sand relay, team trail challenge, a barrel race and high speed maneuvering drills.

This final test determined which of the ǣSpartanburg Six (as they have become known) would become the ǣTunisia Three who would go on to represent the United States in the International GS Trophy in October. As Kuykendall stated, ǣjust getting down to the final six riders was an extremely difficult task for his team.

ǣWeve not only had many excellent riders to chose from, but the criteria was complex too, including not only riding ability and experience, but more intangible qualities like teamwork, personality, physical and psychological fitness, and the capability to spread the BMW faith. It would have been equally easy to end up with six other, equally deserving names, as the standard was so high, but as a consolation, there is always next year, when we will require new riders for the 2009 GS Trophy wherever it might be!

ǣThe real point of the GS Challenge is to have real BMW riders in a "Survivor-style" environment, Kuykendall summed up. ǣIn the end, its the same kind of adventure that any BMW GS owner can indulge in. If you own a GS, you can do this for yourself!

Link to selection announcement : Three motorcyclist selected to represent the USA in BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy