In three months' time, the fifth International GS Trophy - a fierce, intense off-road motorcycling competition - will take place in Thailand. And for the first time ever, an all-female team will be there.
Made up of three women from across the globe (France’s Stephanie Bouisson, Australia’s Amy Harburg and South Africa’s Morag Campbell), the team have worked hard to get here – even beating seven other women in a three-day-long competition (consisting of 13 separate challenges) in order to qualify for a place in BMW’s first ever all-female team.
For Stephanie, a 30-year-old lab technician with a young son, the chance to represent women in motorcycling is a dream come true. ‘Because we live so far away from each other, it will be difficult for us to train together, but I know that we will be great as a team,’ she says. ‘Each one of us has different qualities and I feel that we already know each other well. I’m going to be taking English lessons so I can communicate better with everyone. I’m also going to continue training and riding my bike, as Thailand will come around soon enough. In France I do enduro ride-outs with girls, just to explore areas off-road and to ride together in groups, and in November I’m organising a travel event with 15 ladies. I can’t wait!’
Around 17,000 kilometres away in Australia, Amy has also come to terms with the fact that she is one of just three women making history as the first female team ever to contest the GS Trophy. After spending years working on a 35,000 acre cattle station, she’s swapped horses for motorbikes – even developing an adventure riding app to help adrenaline-seekers explore Australia on and off-road.
‘I’m absolutely elated to be going to Thailand, but I worked hard for this for a long time,’ she explains. ‘I am competitive and I put in a lot of effort at home to prepare, and I’m proud to say that it paid off… I learnt lots but I’m going to continue training hard every day, in the gym and back on the bike, too.’
‘I didn’t expect how amazing all the girls were going to be at the South African competition but we’re all like-minded girls who share the same passion and we’re all strong believers in bringing more women into the sport,’ she adds. ‘You can’t live life on the couch – you’ve got to get out there and do it… I want lots of girls to share this journey with me.’
Meanwhile, for 44-year-old architect Morag, it’s incredible that she even made it to the qualifiers. ‘It was a tricky run-up to the competition,’ she laughs. ‘There was the last-minute application that I uploaded just minutes before deadline – in typical architect style. And a delightful surprise to be selected, but soon after I injured myself in a riding accident and thought that I wouldn’t be able to actually compete. But based on affirmation from the doctors, I did participate. However, the shortened period of available training meant I had to be very focused, so I was really excited when I made it into the final three. Now I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.’
‘There’s a real sense of support and sharing, and it’s great to be a part of this. I’ve met a number of women who I’ve since encouraged onto adventure bikes, but I’d like to find a way to provide a platform for even more women –and men– to gain access to adventure riding.’