Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meet Team USA

Left: Bill Dragoo...Middle: Shannon Markle...Right: Iain Glynn

Meet Team USA

Team USA leaves for Africa Thursday and I find myself in good company. I have met my teammates only  a few times, but our friendship has come along fast and furious, as things do when a timeline forces the usual inhibitions aside. Iain Glynn, 26, from Seattle, Washington is a master bike handler, large or small. He says it is because his legs are too short to reach the ground, hence he never touches a foot unless he’s ready to get off.  He is a pleasure to follow through the rough, picking good lines and managing clutch, throttle and brake like he was born with a bike beneath him. His calm, calculating mannerism belies his ability to think fast and make good decisions. And he’s a pretty good wrench.
Shannon Markle, 37 from Laramie, Wyoming is our insurance policy. If Iain or I hesitate a moment to head into a tough trail section, up a ravine or take that last foray into a dark single track at the end of a long day, Shannon disappears into the woods bringing all discussion to a rapid halt. And he has the chutzpah to get us to the other side. What Shannon sets his hand and mind to gets done. I have seen him peel a partially loaded F800GS from the side of a 500’ sand dune like he was picking up a bicycle. Shannon reminds me of Chuck Norris, only with a BMW instead of a round house to the jaw.
To date, we have trained together twice as a team. Shannon and I also enjoyed a week long ride together up the OBDR, (Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route), a trail from California to Washington. It was there that I learned of Shannon’s stoic decision making when he swore the trail went where I couldn’t imagine a loaded R1200GS Adventure could possibly go. He pointed the way by slicing a good sized deadfall out of our path with is Stihl folding saw and aiming his machine up the steep, silt covered mountain. An hour and perhaps 300 yards later we smashed our way onto a roadbed that appeared not to have been used in twenty years or more.
Our first ride as three was another week spent on the Mojave Desert, led by Jonathan Beck of Cycle World fame and one of the embedded journalists with the 2008 Trophy team in Tunisia. Jon was our tour guide from the Rawhyde Adventure Ranch north of LA to the perimeter of Death Valley, Prim, Nevada and Big Bear, criss-crossing the desert on power line roads, through Dumont Dunes and chasing one another through twisty mountain passes like squirrels around an oak tree. BMW graciously, if not wisely loaned us new F800’s and a couple of R1200’s to “test,” and test them we did. The 2008 team, Brad Hendry, Jim Stoddard and Jason Adams joined us for the first three days and we simply had a blast finding out what these awesome machines could do.
Our final meeting was last month when Shannon and I flew to Seattle and spent three days on the Olympic Peninsula and in the Cascades up north, riding “skinny bikes,” Huskies and a BMW G450X provided by South Sound BMW. Staying injury free was the theme of the ride and rain made the rocks, roots and ruts of the northwest a fine test of our absorption abilities.
My personal training has consisted of mixed days of running bleachers at Owen Stadium, hitting the gym several  times a week and if you have seen a man dwarfed by the massive motorcycle he is pushing in laps around his yard…that would be me.
I hope you will visit my blog often and read on down…click on the links, videos and peruse the photos. There is much to tell and competing in the BMW GS World Trophy Championship is an opportunity few will ever experience. Keep us  in your prayers as we set off on this big adventure!
Grab a cup of coffee, enjoy this slideshow, then scroll on down.


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