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April newsletter - The Sayward April Madness event, New Readers Join Here, the other events of the season, event sponsors, other musings…..



We made it! Spring is here.....

It feels like it has been a long winter, for some further east and north it probably still is and comparing to previous years, this winter on Vancouver Island has been less severe than previous winters. I am looking forwards to a long, motorcycling spring-summer-autumn.


I have three navigation events lined up, building on the events of previous years. Each will be a "navigation trial" in the backcountry of the north of Vancouver Island.

  • The Sayward April Madness event (Saturday 27th April) will be a one-day season opener as an introduction to navigation trials for new participants and a loosener for those that have ridden these events before. Trophy sponsored by Cedar Motorcycle Riding school for First Place.

  • The GoldRiver 400 - Les Chemins Sauvages (Friday 28 June to Monday 1 July) will be a four day major event with routes that will cover 1400km. To use some of the hackneyed motorsport jargon, it will be an event that you won't be able to win on the first day but you will be able to loose on the first day.... to finish first, first you must finish...... an event where the application of brute force and applied ignorance in a "red mist" environment will bring nothing but pain (to quote the Rocky Horror Show). Trophies for First, Second and Third place sponsored by Kove Moto Canada and Tuff City Powersports Nanaimo.

  • The Sayward September Showcase ( Saturday and Sunday 28+29 September, Monday 30 September is a public holiday) will be a two day season finale run to the established format with trophies for First and Second.

  • There will also be a Season Trophy, sponsored by Cedar Motorcycle Riding School, Kove Moto Canada and Tuff City Powersports awarded to the rider who records a) the highest number of Richta Control Points with b) the lowest number of Time Penalties.




Backcountry Navigation Trials: new readers join here....

We have here an (almost) unique form of motorcycle motorsport. Riders who have participated in previous events should already know this but the following points are worthy of repeating.

  • Backcountry Navigation Trials are not races, speed trials, time trials or rallyraid events.

  • They are tests of backcountry navigation from the back of motorcycles.

  • This distinction is of vital importance as these events are held on open, public roads on which you can expect to encounter other road users and oncoming traffic. As a consequence of this, all participants (event staff included) must have ICBC road insurance, registration and a full-entitlement motorcycle driving licence.


There are three classes of event participation:

  • navigation by Gaia as an entry level - the route is emailed as a Gaia hyperlink a few days before the event;

  • navigation by roadbook in the traditional rallyraid style - the route is emailed as a Rally Navigator PDF a few days before the event for participants to load into Roadbook Reader or print up into a roll;

  • the "competition" class Roadbook plus Richta timing - each day's route is broken up into a number of legs. Each leg starts and finishes with a virtual GPS timing gate that is triggered by an app running on a smartphone (iPhones work best). Each leg has a target average speed (which is entirely within the posted speed limit and safely achievable). The test is to get as close to the target average (speed and hence time) as possible - while at all times keeping on top of your navigating AND riding your bike over testing off road terrain. Time penalties are awarded and recorded by the app for every second over or under the target time.

  • So, this is not a test of riding at Speed, but a test of riding at A Speed... and in this way we get to have a motorsport without breaking any motoring laws and running afoul of the good ladies and gentlemen of the RCMP!

  • Riders in the Gaia class can ride solo or in pairs. In the Roadbook-only class, riders are stepping up to solo roadbook navigation. The Roadbook+Richta class is a solo-only class. Trophies are awarded in the Roadbook+Richta class only. Bragging rights are up for discussion!



Sayward April Madness: they said it would be madness to put an event on in April....

Winter weather in previous years has been on the wild side on the west of Vancouver Island, snow, ice, gales, trees blown down and roads blocked. It was a challenge to get the first GoldRiver event done at the end of June. This winter has been different. With the exception of a couple of fortnights when snow lay all about and the brass balls could be heard falling from the statues of monkeys hidden about the island, the winter has been much more cooperative (but none less grey). At the end of January I took a punt and announced an event for the end of April.


Over the past few weekends, myself and my highly-valued codefendants have laid out the course for the Sayward April Madness. In the light of our reconnaissance experiences, the route has been "retouched" to avoid two sections that are (as of the end of March) impassable due to snow and ice and two sections that have been closed by Western Forest Products while they do their industry. The end result is a route of 208km - slightly shorter than originally advertised and which comprises 4,500m of climbing - slightly more than before.


This screenshot from Gaia gives the route profile, it looks a little dramatic...

I have ridden this course a number of time now on my DR650. The steep bits are blast-rock rubble. Plenty of grip, even if you might displace a few stones along the way. If you have an adventure litrebike, provided you are a competent off-road rider you will be able to get round. It's not a course for beginners but it is not as hard as an enduro, trials or MX course.


The event will begin with registration and sign-on in the Crossroads pub and restaurant on Friday evening with a Saturday morning registration for local riders. The start will be from 9am at the junction of Sayward Rd and Hwy19 with individual starts over the next couple of hours. Halfway round is a compulsory census stop at a petrol station before rejoining for the rest of the route. Expect to take 6-7 hours to get round the course (an average speed of about 30kph).


Those riding the Roadbook+Richta will be able to see the results racking up on Richta Scoreboard courtesy of the CooP public wifi. Notwithstanding any protests, appeals or whinging, the final results will be declared in the Crossroads on Saturday evening and the trophy will be awarded.


You have a choice of accommodation at Sayward Junction, a motel, two serviced campsites and a camp-in-the-woods-with-the-bears campsite walking distance up the road. Please make your own arrangements.


Event sponsors and trophies - the rest of the 2024 season:

I am very pleased to announce the partnership with three motorcycle industry companies for 2024 as event sponsors.

  • The Sayward April Madness event is being sponsored by Cedar Motorcycle Riding School: https://cedarmotorcycle.com providers of MST and Class 6 test instruction in the Nanaimo area

  • The GoldRiver 400 and Sayward September Showcase events are being sponsored by Kove Moto Canada and Tuff City Powersports Nanaimo - expect to see some 450 rally bikes around the courses https://www.kovemotocanada.com and https://tuffcitypowersports.com Anyone with even a passing interest in motorcycle rallysport can't have failed to be impressed with the performances of Kove 450 rally bikes in international competitions, Kove Moto Canada are the Canadian importers, Tuff City Powersports are the Nanaimo distributors. Thank you gentlemen.

  • The 2024 Season trophy will bear the names of all three sponsoring companies whose assistance is greatly valued and appreciated.



The rest of the VIME 2024 season is made up of the GoldRiver 400 - Les Chemins Sauvages 4 day event in the last week of June and the Sayward September Showcase last weekend in September (that is also a long holiday weekend).


Entry details of all these events can be found on the Shop tab of this website www.gr200.com and there are many descriptive technical articles on the Blog.


I am very much looking forwards to the coming season's events and meeting old friends and new.


Best wishes, Jonathan Binnington.

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