Team Canada arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday without a hitch. Our base camp was located at Touratech’s South African headquarters, where we all pitched tent for our first night outdoors.
During the riders’ briefing we learned that points will be awarded during two types of special tests, one that includes riding and one that doesn’t. Special tests are revealed just before they take place, so no one knows what BMW has planned.
Points will also be awarded in a photo competition in which pictures taken by each team will be uploaded to the GS Trophy website, where people can log in and vote for the best image.
As a journalist my capacity within the competition will be limited; I can participate in the non-riding special tests and I can provide images towards the photo competition.
On Sunday, we rode to the first rally stage, located on a 600-hectare ranch. The riding was easy; the first 180 km on pavement and the last 100 km on dirt roads.
The first special test challenged the team’s GPS navigational skills. The team had to locate five waypoints located on the ranch, within 60 minutes. Team journalists had the option of riding along with the team during this special test, and in a show of solidarity, the team elected I follow along.
I have to say that following the Canadian trio and watching them navigate from one waypoint to next was very impressive – and the riding wasn’t easy. A hint that the riding would be difficult was the tow rope handed out during the pre-test briefing. We were also warned to watch for warthog holes, which we were told could swallow a bike. I saw a few of these holes and I can say that they can probably swallow a Toyota.
Our team finished at 56 minutes, 40 seconds, placing them in fifth position in the first special test. Team USA finished third, Spain second and first was Team South Africa.
Uncharacteristically, the weather has turned for the worse, and as I prepare to turn in, the temperature outside is 11 degrees and it’s raining.
We’ll try to post another update tomorrow. Stay tuned.