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David Knights Story of the BMW GS Trophy East Qualifier

Posted by Josh Shorley on

One of our "team members" is chasing a spot on the United States GS Trophy team. I'm personally very jealous that he's chasing this dream as I'd like to live his story sooner than later. Here's his story. 

Dave's story...

Loaded up to cover 8 states in less than 2 days on my way to South Carolina for the East Coast qualifier to see if I can earn 1 of 3 spots on Team USA for the BMW GS Trophy 2018 in Mongolia!!

I'm going to make a fun ride out there by taking some of my favorite 2 lane Missouri back road highways to blister the chicken strips off the new knobbies. Tomorrow it'll be fun to ride on the other side of the Mississippi for a change. As long as I'm in the area, I'll see if Deals Gap/Tail of the Dragon can compare to my favorite Arkansas routes. I have a nice route of almost all squiggly lines on the map and almost none of that boring 4 lane interstate junk.

Along my journey in pursuing this goal, I had a great team that started as coaches, scouts and fellow adventure riders that very quickly turned into great friends in my life - thank you all.

Huge shout-outs to Bill Dragoo, Susan Dragoo, the DART team of Tobin Vigil, Todd Hamm and fellow "Team BS" teammates Zeke and Josh.
The East Coast qualifier will be fun but I'm really looking forward to the Central qualifier the following week to meet up with Josh, Zeke and Susan!

Ready to go have some fun and it's finally time to find out where I stack up against the best that the East coast has to offer!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, watch this

If ya ain't got nothin' better to do, shoot me some good vibes for the weekend!
Peace love and ice cold beer to all y'alls!

Some practice time...

GS Trophy Practice

Time to get going. First stop, Tail of the Dragon.

Not a bad place at all to stop for lunch on the Tail of the Dragon.

tail of the dragon lunch
tail of the dragon river

Day 1

Day 1 of the East Coast BMW GS Trophy Qualifier complete! I was in the first group for the Navigation Challenge this morning which I have been little apprehensive about. Leaving with a sheet of paper with a route sheet (odometer mileage, turning points and intersections) on one side and checkpoints to hit along the route on the other, I left the starting line a little confused. However after a few miles I figured out what I was doing. I remembered back to riding enduros and today I really enjoyed the chaos of riding a motorcycle over varied terrain while reading a route sheet, flipping over to checkpoints, comparing against the odometer, doing the math in my head for odometer/route mismatches, confirming with Garmin Mottorrad GPS unit all at the same time! At each checkpoint you have to take a selfie at the desribed spot for credit and all checkpoints must be completed in order. Roughly 4 hours and 110'ish miles of beautiful South Carolina and North Carolina mountains - it was absolutely awesome! I wish I could do this challenge day after day after day after day 

The afternoon Team Physical Challenge was no joke! Literally, navigating a maze course thru the woods carrying a telephone pole while collecting and carrying bike parts along the way. 
Second challenge - moving 3 partially disassembled BMW GS motorcycles to the assembly area, then running a maze course in the woods to find all the missing parts (bike specific) to 3 bikes, then assembling the bikes was extremely challenging.
Third challenge - sawing wafers off of a large log by hand, well they did give us a 2 person hand saw, then shooting the wafers with paintball guns, then running them to the finish line. My back, shoulders and triceps now hate me and are on a temporary strike...
After a handful of ibuprofen and some sleep, I'll be ready to get to the technical riding competitions that start tomorrow morning. I think the first challenge will be being able to throw my leg over the bike in the hotel parking lot!

The BMW performance center is awesome, the BMW team here is even more awesome and the competitors are amazing - not sure what more I could ask for!
Things I learned today - I suck at taking selfies (thankfully they didn't grade on photography skills), I don't want to work for the telephone company hauling poles, I don't EVER want to be a lumber jack and Alpinestars makes terrible running shoes, ha!

GS Trophy

south carolina

GS Trophy

GS Trophy bikes

 Day 2

Day 2 of the Team USA East Coast Qualifier for the BMW GS Trophy. 
Tough day that made yesterday look easy. My body is wiped out just as I expected but I'm really surprised about how mentally exhausted I am. The heat may be playing a part in that but the mental aspect of constant strategy, line selection and figuring out how to make a 550+ lb bike fit in to and out of places is very tiring. Riders meeting was at 8:30am and we finished our last challenge at dark tonight. 
Too tired to write much, so to sum up the day -
1. I got to ride my bike to Germany today! I also got to drop my bike a whole bunch of times on official German soil and pavement! Not that that was ever really a goal of mine... but hey, I've never crashed in that country before! 
2. Lots and lots of mistakes today. Mostly mental mistakes which was discouraging. Things I could normally ride very easily just weren't coming together for me but I also watched a lot of very talented riders have the same physical and mental mistakes as the day wore on.
3. I don't remember any brains are too tired...

Great technical courses today, lots of heat, lots of dumb mistakes dabs, drops and stalls. It would be great to get to hit all these courses with a fresh body and fresh mind but that's not the point of this and that's why of all the different disciplines of motorcycle competition I've ever done - this is pretty much the toughest contest.
I've got another full day tomorrow and hopefully I'll make the cut to the final round tomorrow afternoon to ride the official BMW GS Rallye Team USA bike for the final challenges...which I'm sure my bike would appreciate having a break!

Here are a couple of pics but I'll leave out most of the ones that I took since I'm not sure if the other group has completed those sections yet and this is a public post... 

BTW - since it took me 25 hours of riding the motorcycle to get here, if somebody wants to swing by with an RV and a trailer to haul me back home while I sleep and pop ibuprofen like M&M's that would be great!


Day 2 GS Trophy BMW GSA

I made the cut! Day 3 here I come!

Qualifier list GS Trophy

Day 3

Day 3 finale! 
I think it was an obvious sign when I got off the interstate headed to the BMW Performance Center this morning and the bike started to not want to roll any more that it had had enough! By the time I got to the parking lot it was all I could do to get the bike to the main tent where the rear wheel finally locked up on me. It seems some of the muck from the rear wheel lodged in the rear brake lever and started applying the brakes until I cooked the pads. Thanks to Charles Lucht and volunteers for helping get the bike to roll again, ha! 
After making the first cut at 12 this morning which was a huge surprise based on how I rode this weekend, we ran another riding skills course which I completely bombed! First mistake was a bad line in tight cloverleaf circles around 3 large boulders. I wasn't able to make the final 3rd 360 since I had taken a bad line, was already at bar lock and when I tried to go around the wrong side of the tree I managed to drop the bike and wedged myself between it and a tree. Then I had a couple dabs in a deep gravel pit slalom course, followed by getting kicked off the side of the course on the uneven concrete drainage pipe slalom course and another couple of dabs in the mud pit rollers. After watching everyone else do great on the same course I knew I was at the back of the pack.
Next challenge was a physical off-bike challenge where you had to flip a tractor tire 2 times, then stand it up, roll it up and across a swinging bridge, then flip it 2 more times before lifting and then pushing a 550# GS motorcycle thru a maze in the woods. I had a very slow time and I dropped the bike 2 ft before the finish line. By the time I got it back on 2 wheels and pushed it across the finish, I knew my competition was over. I was then part of the next cut of the field. 
So I finished somewhere between 9th and 12th. 
I had an amazing time and would do it again as soon as my back, shoulders, triceps, hamstrings and all the stuff on my bike is healed/repaired/replaced, lol! 
I came to have fun and see where I stack up against the best the East coast has to offer and I accomplished both!

My riding was very inconsistent the whole competition with lots of mental mistakes, everything was based on one run with no practice which isn't my best format and my body and brain were completely worn out. 
But I was lucky to compete with some absolutely amazing and talented riders and had a lot of fun (and pain) doing it. I gave it all I had at every challenge, did the best I could do at that moment, never gave up even when I knew I was gonna be cut from the field but I just wasn't able to put everything together and perform to my best which is disappointing. 
Thank you all very much for all the support, I really appreciate it!
My next challenge will be trying to fit all this junk back on the bike and ride it back to Kansas 

Peace, love and ice cold beers to alls y'all's 

Here's some pics of a few of the the courses I rode.

GS Trophy Dirt Course

BMW GS Trophy Qualifier

BMW GS Trophy Qualifier 

BMW GS Trophy Qualifier

BMW GS Trophy Qualifier

BMW GS Trophy Qualifier

BMW GS Trophy Qualifier


I read through some of the comments on Dave's Facebook page and everyones support was fantastic. Dave is from the Kansas City area and were proud to call him a local. I believe he's also planning to attend the next GS Trophy in Southern Missouri, so there's more to follow! I can't get through this post without giving his business a shout out as well... Check out KC Banner and Graphics for more info. Great job Dave! 


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