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Canadians aim high in Andes motorcycle race

Riders vie for BMW’s prestigious GS Trophy.

Published November 16, 2012

BMW’s GS Trophy has to be one of, if not the most significant and energetic motorcycle adventures out there.

It is a flagship race for the German automaker. The third edition of the GS Trophy, BMW is taking their seven-day motorcycle challenge to South America to test the mettle of amateur BMW riders.

On Nov. 24, 45 riders from 19 different countries will set out from Tecuma, Chile and cross the southern Andes into Argentina. The GS Trophy competitors are selected by way of national competitions and each country sends a three-rider team.

The GS Trophy was first held in Tunisia in 2008. Two years later the trophy took place on the African continent, tackling the dirt trails of Mozambique and South Africa.

The GS Trophy is designed to allow average BMW riders the opportunity to compete for national pride in a tough endurance race.

This time, Team Canada has some top-shelf candidates heading to the GS Trophy. The 2012 Canadian team includes Quebec-based Marc-Andre Octeau, a 38-year-old father of two. Octeau has a relatively short riding career of six years, but he has a vast amount of adventure experience: mountain biking, off-road motorcycle competition and a recent summit attempt on Mount Everest. The birth of his first child prompted him to drop out of the GS Trophy in 2010. He returned to the race this past June, winning the GS Challenge Quebec for a second time and earning himself a trip to South America.

The second-oldest team member is 28-year-old Albertan Adrian Tobler, who has 14 years of riding experience under his belt. Tobler’s background includes growing up off-road riding as a youngster. Adrian’s first GS Challenge in 2011 did not go well, he missed the top five and vowed to come back fighting this year. Tobler’s preparation paid off, he won the 2012 Rocky Mountain GS Challenge and his spot on Team Canada.

Of the three GS Trophy Team Canada members, perhaps Darius Rylander’s story is the most intriguing. The 23-year-old comes from a motorcycling family: His father Darcy very nearly earned a trip to South America as well. The elder Rylander’s bid fell short by only a few places in the recent GS qualifier.

Rylander has been riding off-road bikes since he was 12. He recently bought a BMW GS and entered the annual qualifying GS event in Alberta on a whim. Darius won the Rocky Mountain GS Challenge in 2011, claiming a trip to South America as a member of the Canadian team.

Rick Fleury, owner of Argyll Motorrad in Edmonton, is also the organizer of Western version of the GS Challenge qualifying event that has taken place the past three years.

“Both Adrian and Darius are customers of our store, they are young, enthusiastic and represent the future BMW rider,” said Fleury, “They have the stamina and riding skill to do well.”

Fleury went on to add; “There’s has been some conversation about Canada hosting the 2014 International GS Trophy in the Rockies. That would be huge step for us as Canadians.”

You can follow the Canadian team’s GS Trophy progress Facebook or at BMW Canada’s site.

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