top of page

GoldRiver 400 - Les Chemins Sauvages

It’s now six weeks - or it was at the time of writing this - to the GoldRiver 400. I would like to offer these words of encouragement, wisdom and advice if you are contemplating entering the event.

The Event

The GoldRiver 400 is the latest in a series of “navigation trials” staged by VIME from the village of Gold River in the Strathcona region of the north of Vancouver Island.

VIME backcountry navigation trials offer dualsport and adventure bike riders the opportunity to

  • ride their bikes in the environments they were designed for,

  • over very long distances

  • in a road-legal AND competitive event

  • that is representative of Rallysport

  • yet does not cost substantial amounts of money to participate.

Registration and sign-on and scrutineering starts on Thursday evening 27 June. Roadbook and Gaia routes are run on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Canada Day Monday. The routes are tests of your navigation skills and as such you ride them solo (Roadbook) or in pairs (if you are riding the Gaia class).

The event is arranged to offer Roadbook navigation enthusiasts an event as close as possible to rallyraid events without breaking the law in Canada…

Of course we can’t have racing on public land, private land is unavailable and we have to remain legal.

But….. we can ride the public highway-designated wilderness roads, on road legal, plated and insured dualsport and adventure bikes at legal speeds using roadbooks and GPS timing on smartphones over very long distance routes and have an affordable, accessible motorcycle motorsport in our own (metaphorical) back yard.

Accommodation, places to stay and eat, fuel for your vehicles

There are three (at least) options for places to stay.


The GoldRiver 400 event is very grateful for the support from

  • Uptown Cappuccino cafe - outside which each day’s route will start. Breakfasts at your behest

  • The Ridge pub - where each route finishes for a beer and a dinner

  • The Crossroads pub and restaurant in Sayward Junction will be passed on some of the routes

  • Woss - Shot in the Dark café

There are other places to eat in town, phoning for a table reservation is strongly recommended.

There is a petrol station in town selling ethanol added Regular and ethanol-free higher octane. There are also petrol stations at Sayward Junction and Woss (which funnily enough feature in the routes…).

Kove Moto Canada and Tuff City Powersports Nanaimo event partners

For 2024, following on from the debut of Kove 450 rally bikes on the international stage, Kove Moto Canada and their partners TuffCity Powersports Nanaimo will be attending the event with 450 road legal bikes. They have event entries and it will be interesting to see how the company riders, who are motocross and enduro riders get on with this motorsport genre with very different demands.

The classes of participation and what you need for them

There are two classes of participation, both of which require road-legal status.

  • Navigation. Either by Gaia, or for the developing rally rider Roadbook. This class is non-competitive and is intended for riders who are developing their backcountry travel skills and confidence. Riders may ride solo or with one or two companions. The routes will be the same as for the timed competition routes but start times will be offset to avoid cross-influencing of the competing riders.

  • Richta plus Roadbook competition. Richta is a iPhone-based GPS timing app developed for use specifically by the SCCA car road/regularity community. For backcountry motorcycle motorsport, the general principle of timing competitors through GPS virtual timing gates remains. The precision achievable by riders aiming for target times in legs is an order of magnitude less precise as a result of a whole host of confounding factors entirely beyond the control of organisers or participants (geometric mapping distance errors on steep ground, relocation of gravel roads not accurately represented on mapping apps and others) - but the unavoidable errors apply equally to everyone and so, the net effect is the same for everyone. A little bit RAF and rock’n’roll.

These three systems, Gaia (mapping), Rally Roadbook Reader (pdf roadbook display) and Richta rally timing all run on a gps-enabled smartphone. iOS is preferable to android as iOS is much more capable of multitasking. You need a separate iPhone for each of these apps, Roadbook Reader needs continuous display (and therefore a power supply), as does Gaia. You won’t need to display both Gaia and Roadbook Reader as they represent two separate classes of participation. Richta runs on its own phone as it needs it’s own uninterrupted connection to the GPS chip.

None of these apps need a SIM card. None of the phones need to be new. Data gets up and downloaded by wifi or cell hotspot. The only must-have is a power supply to keep the phones (mini tablets) fully charged throughout the day.

There is no men’s/women’s separation. So far no difference has been shown in the challenges faced by male and female participants. This is a motorsport of skill and navigational awareness. It is not an activity that responds well to the application of brute force and applied ignorance.

Similarly, there is no bike size separation. Previous winners of events have ridden large capacity adventure bikes and 250cc Dualsport bikes.

Suitable motorcycles and preparation

VIME events are intended and designed to be most relevant to grass-roots motorcycle enthusiasts who have an interest in motorcycle rallysport without the time, means or opportunity to get involved in high level rallying. Consider this “entry level” motor sport.

If you have a dualsport or adventure bike and don’t have wilderness 10 minutes away, this is your opportunity to make good use of your bike.

Additionally, if you wish to explore the back of beyond of Vancouver Island, these routes will take you to some of the places you didn’t know existed!

While riders of smaller smaller bikes are at a definite advantage compared to the riders of adventure litreplusbikes, all the routes can be successfully ridden by bikes of all sizes (provided you are up to it…). The hardest sections have workarounds and are signposted as “difficult bits - bypass here”.

The critical component is the tyres you have. The roads are almost exclusively gravel - blast rock, pebble cobbles, friable marl and good ole navvyjack. You can expect less than 5% tarmac (some of it anachronistic, unexpected, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere tarmac forests roads). If it has recently rained there will be puddles, if it is dry there will be dust. There won’t be any mud, sand or single-track through private property.

Motocross tyres, soft gummy knobblies or anything extreme will not be required. Trials tyres are good, MT21/D606 combination is even better. Road-oriented adventure bike block tread patterns will work but consider taking the work-arounds.

Take a InReach or a Zoleo if your smartphone doesn’t have SOS calling. Take something to drink and eat as picnic rations. Take a small can of WD40 to squirt rain out of your electrics. Take your usual spares and tubes.

Arrange for two usb charging ports to keep your Gaia and or Roadbook Reader phones going all day long - don’t cover them in the sun as they will overheat. If it is raining, try to arrange something to keep the rain off them. A handlebar phone mount is perfectly sufficient, you don’t need to go to the lengths of rally navigation towers - at least to begin with.

With that you are just about ready to ride your first navigation trial. Expect a steep learning curve to begin with, you can also expect much friendly help and advice - at least until you begin to get good!

How to enter, hyperlinks to the entries

Richta Competitor GPS rally timing:

If you have any questions you can contact me on or through this website.

I hope to meet you soon!

61 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

It's also a LOT of fun. As a first timer last year it was a steep learning curve. I'll be back this year on a big bike but with more aggressive tires this time, hoping for a scratch-free finish...

bottom of page