Strength, endurance, and a lot of heart

Last year, our good friend Aris Cuevas triumphed over a dozen hopefuls in the BMW GS Trophy South East Asia regional qualifiers held in Thailand. After months of preparation, Aris and his team mates, Mohd Apis from Malaysia, and Ouy Thawongpeay from Thailand, joined the rest of the teams from all over the world as they slugged it out for the 2018 GS Trophy crown in the very unforgiving terrain of Mongolia.

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

Although a relative ‘newbie’ when it comes to the GS Trophy, Team SE Asia still managed to place 11th overall, even besting powerhouses like China and Canada in the competition. we sit down and chat with Aris on what it's like to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime ultimate adventure.

MotoPinas: “First of all, congratulations BOSS (BMW Owners' Society of Safe riders) Aris for waving our flag in Mongolia. I could only imagine the ‘butterflies in the belly’ feeling when you’re up there competing with the rest of the world.”

Aris Cuevas: “It feels like you are a national player, like in PBA, and suddenly will have to play at the NBA with the big boys. I’m like a fan in there. Seeing the people on YouTube and Facebook in person posting about their amazing skills in riding, then you are there, brushing elbows with them.”

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

 MP: “From your perspective, what does the competition look like?”

AC: “This competition separates the boys from the men. You cannot go there as a learner. You must be there already equipped with expertise. The sand is very unforgiving terrain. You must really know the tricks to survive.”

MP: "That must be really exhausting; I can remember when we rode together for one of your training sessions  we could hardly catch up.”

AC: “When you are in the competition, the excitement will add to the fatigue, you cannot eat and sleep well because you are excited for the next day.”

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

MP: "How was the group? I mean, were they always wearing their ‘game faces’? In other words, suplado ba sila (were they amicable)?”

AC: “You will meet a lot of friends while you are there. Everybody feels like a brother or a sister. Besides the fact that you are competing with each other. Friendly naman silang lahat. (They were all friendly)”

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

MP: "You're riding in that unforgiving terrain on bikes that are more than double the weight of an average dirtbike. It must be pretty tough for all of the competitors.”

AC: “In GS trophy, not only skills matter. You must have strength, endurance and a lot of heart to survive. That’s the Spirit of GS.”

MP: “Adventure of a lifetime – I think for us who are into adventure riding has the GS Trophy placed at number 1 on our bucket lists.”

AC: “It is indeed the dream ride of your life. That is why, when I was injured by the other rider and informed by the event doctor that I could not ride anymore, I cried for hours in the hotel. It was really devastating. But I’m still happy that it was not a very serious injury, it could’ve been worse.”

MP: "With the way we do our adventure rides here in the Philippines, do you think that we can go head to head with the international teams in the future considering that they were riding their big rigs on the crazier side?”

AC: “Well, I am a Pinoy and I was there. If not only because of the injury, I believe I can survive 'till the end of the GS Trophy tournament. I certainly believe that there are many other Filipinos out there who are better skilled than me when it comes to adventure riding. That’s why, if I was able to qualify, no doubt there will be more Filipinos qualifying in the future.”

MP: “You’re the first-ever Filipino to compete at the GS Trophy. What advice would you say to riders like me who daydream about competing in the GS Trophy one day?”

AC: “If you’re dreaming of joing the 2020 GS Trophy, better start training NOW. We can never tell what conditions or where the next GS trophy will be. You must be prepared for all the difficulties that this competition presents.”

MP: “I remember watching the guys from Team USA on YouTube, cross-training with their big BMW 1200GS on terrain only dirtbikes would dare venture. I was like, 'WOW.'”

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

AC: “Yes, don’t be afraid to fall down, drop or even roll down with your bike. It’s all part of learning. If you are afraid to drop or magasgasan yung GS mo, your skills won’t improve, because definitely, you won’t be tackling the more technical terrain that you might also encounter during the GS Trophy.”

MP: "That being said, can the Filipinos win competitions like the GS Trophy?”

AC: “Filipinos are natural born fighters. No doubt, kaya natin yan!”

As a bonus, Aris also shared what the participants do behind the scenes; some helpful, som just plain funny:

1. Do not be shy to take a shower in an open bathroom. So show off your “GS1200” to them proudly!

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

2. Learn to sleep in different and uncomfortable conditions and positions. Train yourself to sleep in tents.

3. Travel light because it will be only you and you alone to carry everything you bring. Forget your kikay kit.

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

4. Try to eat very early in the morning, say 5:30 am to 6:30 am, because if you missed breakfast, you will have no energy for the whole day of hard riding – on average 250 kilometers per day, plus team skill competitions.

5. Use pain relievers in tablet or capsule form. It is kind of embarrassing if the other competitors smell the scent of Salonpas or other pain reliever ointments when your tents are very close together during the night.

6. Taking a bath is OPTIONAL. Haha! I am serious about this. There were some participants who lived by this.

Aris Cuevas on competing in the GS Trophy

7. Make sure that you are already used to or can sleep with a loud snorer. Oftentimes, you cannot choose your neighbor when you pitch your tent. So don’t get upset when the next tent has Akrapovic full-exhaust system installed on it.

Should you have questions or suggestions, or even violent reactions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]