James Ber­rill 39

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Day four over­all 3rd Day seven over­all 14th 2nd 3rd

clear strengths of Team UK.

The open­ing test was a com­bi­na­tion of rid­ing and ob­ser­va­tion with the three riders hav­ing to work their way down a rock-filled river while look­ing for print­outs of words po­si­tioned strate­gi­cally along the river bank.

Spe­cial Test two was a case of man­han­dling a GS over a 4ft high log Ð a feet we achieved in just 16 sec­onds!

And Spe­cial Test three was a slowspeed ob­sta­cle course which re­quired full-lock turns, but with only one hand on the han­dle­bar at any one time while pick­ing up bot­tles and putting them down again. This par­tic­u­lar test was played out at the end of the day at base camp un­der the pres­sure cooker at­mos­phere of ev­ery other team watch­ing. But clearly pres­sure was a ma­jor mo­ti­va­tor for Team UK who won the day scor­ing the most points over­all in the three chal­lenges. Spe­cial test 1

Chae Son to Chi­ang Dao 170km

Start­ing the fi­nal day in third – two points be­hind Ger­many in sec­ond, 19 points be­hind South Africa in first and 16 points ahead of China in fourth – it was all to play for.

A rare mis­take in the first tri­als sec­tion Spe­cial Test saw Team UK slump to 14th and put their chance of a podium in jeop­ardy. The fi­nal Spe­cial Test of the GS Tro­phy was a long tech­ni­cal stage in­cor­po­rat­ing parts of a mo­tocross track. It was a com­bi­na­tion of fast en­duro type rid­ing, tri­als and tech­ni­cal skills with points de­ducted for dabs or crashes. And to raise the stakes even higher it was worth dou­ble points with a po­ten­tial 40 points up for grabs.

Team UK shrugged off their ear­lier dis­ap­point­ment with an ac­com­plished per­for­mance, set­ting the sec­ond quick­est time in ar­guably the most cru­cial Spe­cial Test of the en­tire event. The re­sult meant that while they couldn’t do enough to over­haul South Africa for over­all vic­tory they reeled in Ger­many fin­ish­ing joint sec­ond place in the over­all stand­ings of the 2016 Gstro­phy. This was a week of rid­ing and com­pe­ti­tion that I will never for­get. Rid­ing deep in the Thai rain­for­est we took our GSS to places I didn’t think pos­si­ble.

As the em­bed­ded jour­nal­ist in the Team UK I was only able to com­pete in se­lected Spe­cial Tests – in­vari­ably not the rid­ing chal­lenges. While I found this hugely dis­ap­point­ing, it was nec­es­sary be­cause it was un­fair for teams to have their re­spec­tive at­tempts made or bro­ken by the per­for­mance and rid­ing abil­ity of their jour­nal­ist. As a re­sult my role within the team tran­scended my jour­nal­is­tic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and to the amuse­ment of my team-mates I was ap­pointed team man­ager – a role I was gen­uinely hon­oured to ac­cept.

The UK Team of James, Oliver and Gor­don should all be in­cred­i­bly proud of their achieve­ments. They ap­proached the whole event in a very Bri­tish way. Calm and me­thod­i­cal with the abil­ity to pull the pin and take risks when nec­es­sary. They prob­a­bly didn’t have the fastest riders and they cer­tainly didn’t have the strong­est, but as a team they ex­celled in many of the rid­ing and phys­i­cal chal­lenges. And the fact that all our rid­ing abil­i­ties and skill sets were sim­i­lar turned out to be one of our big­gest as­sets as we re­mained a tight-knit team re­gard­less at what was thrown at us. Not for­get­ting our abil­ity to mer­ci­lessly take the piss out of each other and re­tain our sense of hu­mour when it all went wrong – a key strength that the Brits do so well.

And while the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween coun­tries was in­tense, there was also an over­whelm­ing sense of com­mu­nity and team spirit on ev­ery level of the event. The fact that each and ev­ery com­peti­tor won the right to be there through a tough se­lec­tion process is hugely sig­nif­i­cant as it changes the ethos of the chal­lenge in a pos­i­tive way. Life-long friends were made and per­ma­nent mem­o­ries in­grained. The GS tro­phy re­ally is a very spe­cial event.

The Ger­man team work­ing to fix a UK punc­ture Smiles all round from the bike- lov­ing Thais Age: Oc­cu­pa­tion: Age: Oc­cu­pa­tion: Age: Oc­cu­pa­tion: Age: Oc­cu­pa­tion: The women's team dug in to com­plete ev­ery chal­lenge

Day 7 – Beaten Track What a week! Gor­don Black­ley gets some air Ri­vals on track share a wel­come drink Twigg, Guy, Ber­rill and Black­ley show off the re­wards of their ef­forts Team UK com­plet­ing the con­tro­ver­sial tow­ing chal­lenge

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