Insights on an extreme lifestyle

10 Jul

The imaginary story of a RBR rider

Let me tell you a story…

You open your eyes and wake up, at once with the sunrise. You open the window and breathe…the fresh mountain air fills your lungs and you feel that this is no ordinary day, the same thing your heart already knows. Your blood runs faster, you feel the adrenaline tickling the tip of your fingers and all you think about is that, soon enough, your hands will hit the gas. It’s the first day at Red Bull Romaniacs.

You dreamed of yourself on the prologue track today, you rode like a God over the obstacles and you finished first. For how many of you is that true? How many had to face another reality, crashing into the loose roots and rocks or falling from the ramps? …actually it doesn’t matter, your dream was good enough to give you the confidence boost you need to start the day. You will do everything you can to reach that goal and make the best of it.

Walking to the paddock you see normal people looking up to you, waving, winking and nodding at your presence…do they know how you feel? Do they see the excitement? The fear? What kind of emotions do you let hit the surface? You shake them off and FOCUS. you put your equipment on and, with a confident smilew, you pull the helmet over your face and say a silent prayer.

The bike is there, waiting for you – for many just an object they admire, for you is part of your soul. BALANCE – that’s what you need, that’s what she gives you. You need riding to live, you need to escape from the city into the forest as often as you can, it’s your passion and you made it a lifestyle. Riding gives your life a balance you never thought you’ll find and you’re forever grateful to those who first showed you how to handle and drive a bike.

Since then, you came a long way and now you’re at the start line of world’s toughest enduro rallye, Red Bull Romaniacs. You look around and you see riders you’ve admired ever since your first connection with this sport, extreme legends like Graham Jarvis, Chris Birch, Paul Bolton or Andreas Lettenbichler. It fills your heart with pride to ride with them in the same competition and you can see your name next to theirs in the future.

The crowd around you is loud as ever. And there are so many people that you don’t even try to count. You feel them looking at you, throwing expectations and judging every move, even though they probably have no idea how it feels to be in your place or what it takes to get to the point where you stand. Shake off every emotion, tune down the music around, the MC and the people cheering around you. You woke up with a plan and now you have to FOCUS and make it through the race.

It’s your turn. Feel the blood rushing in your cheeks? Feel your hand clenching the gas? Feel your feet trembling on the pedals? GO! It’s your turn to prove a point, you’ve been training hard to get fit and find your BALANCE. The time you spent with your bike now shows off and you get together perfectly – she moves the way you want, you pull the hand-guards, hit the gas, adjust your posture and get over every obstacle! You tune in to the people cheering around – do they call your name? Do they admire you? Envy you? Did everyone see how good you rode? – Don’t. You fell. You lost the focus and the balance for a moment and crashed, but that’s ok, get back on the bike and don’t mind about the others until the end of it, they will still cheer for you when you make it to the finish line!

In the end it was a good day. You made it, you’re proud of yourself. The bike is ready for tomorrow, but are you? Will the forest be your friend or enemy? Will the bike listen or will you get in a fight? Will you crash? Will you get lost? Will it rain? Will someone surpass you?
Tune out your thoughts like you did earlier and go to bed.
Tomorrow is the second day of Red Bull Romaniacs.

*Balance & Focus – keywords inspired by Wade Young

You never liked mornings to begin with, but who does? It’s too early for a lot of things, but not for riding. A true riders makes compromises and trades sleeping late for success. Will this be a good day? You’re confused. The weather is great, the bike is ready, your body recovered from yesterday’s prologue and it’s eager to get moving, so you’re all nervous!
You’ve TRAINED hard for this race and so the game begins. Mind and body, they’re all shaping up for a long day of riding.
You’re hungry for success? First eat your carbs. That’s right! Number one rule of the morning, for a good pace and longtime energy you should get your carbs fix at least half an hour before the start.
Rest a little before completing the second important rule of the morning. Get your blood running and do a little cardio to get your heart used to the physical effort. Don’t over do it and if you skip it, try to make the first part of the race your training zone so don’t push it too hard, or you’ll regret it later when your liver will start questioning your body with severe aches. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, get your vitamins, electrolites or whatever your body needs to run the mile. NUTRITION is a fundamental step of an overall good training: all the best riders know what, when and how to eat properly in order to help their body in a race and avoid exhaustion.

*Training and nutrition tips from Dani Otil and Russel White

Some questions from yesterday still cross your mind now and then: you still wonder how the forest will be like, how will the bike behave, but no matter the odds, you know that once you hit the gas you can only go forward. You’re not trained to lose, neither to give up.

It’s been a while since you’ve been in a tough competition like Romaniacs, probably a year since the last edition of RBR, so you know how things go from this point. Four more days in the woods and more than 500 km later you have to climb the Gusterița hill and claim your prize. It’s a race that challenges your body and mind the same. Impossible obstacles lose their fierceness when your race enemies rush from behind, your teeth clench and your eyes narrow when you’re on the bike wrestling with a steep climb, going left-right-left-right avoiding the trees. Did you make it to the top whole? Did you fall and break something? Did your engine drown in the quest? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but I bet you did a great job with it…i mean, you’ve trained so hard, now it shows off!
You can see the finish line getting closer and all the focus fades away after your mind starts throwing questions at your sore body: who finished first? Who surpassed me on that descent? Who’s left to beat tomorrow to get the biggest prize? Did I miss any part of the track? -“silly me, i followed the GPS all along, of course I’m fine!” Insecure subconscious

The crowd waits impacient for your finish and you see them narrowing the circle with microphones, cameras… they’re all ears for what you have to say…but do you know what to say? You don’t even remember where you’ve been through at the moment, you saw forest, hills, mountain peaks, beautiful landscapes and painful obstacles. How was your day though? – Fine. It was amazing, hard but beautiful, incredible views and difficult impediments to overcome. You made it whole to the finish line, you can do it again tomorrow, your bike needs a quick therapy then she’s like new!
Was the day like yours for everyone? You have no idea how many things happen while you think you and your bike are all that matter!
The photographers scratch their knees and elbows to get the best shot of your jump, the reporters run from rider to rider to get all the stories ready for tonight’s news, the mechanics work their a**es off to help you and your team mates, packing, unpacking, fixing you, fixing the bike then going to the next interest point to see if you’re all good, the organisers try to keep everything running smooth and greet every problem with professionalism, solving them as soon as possible.

There’s always room for help in a competition like this, but sometimes it’s simply amazing how the right people in the right place can save a life….even if it belongs to a horse, yes, a HORSE! – Chatting with our brasilian friends who booked a tour for these days we came across this beautiful humanitarian story. While they passed a nearby village, they saw two people gathered around a hole where a horse fell and couldn’t get out. They jumped to the rescue right away, so no pictures were made of the moment, however, I’m sure that those locals and the horse will see the future riders passing their home with different opinion. They’re good people, loving nature and protecting as much of it as they can while enjoying this extreme sport.

How did my day end? I was on my way to the media room to write a new story for you, but I made a detour by the local hospital when Dave called and asked me to hurry there and check on Luke and Blake, two unlucky british riders. Luke Copestake, prologue expert single class winner, had severe lower back pain after crashing in the prologue and hitting it again today, he can barely sit down, however it’s just a muscle injury and nothing’s broken, besides a swollen behind/a**.
ER sum up:
Doc: what happened with you?
Luke: i fell and hit my back.
Doc: ok, sit down.
Luke: I can’t!
Blake Summers was even more unfortunate, he caught his right foot between the bike and a big stone and sprained a few joints inside his foot. After we raced a little with the wheelchair on the ER hallway, we went into the doctor’s office:
Doc: “what’s wrong with you now? I mean, you’re a rider, of course that SOMETHING’s wrong with you!!! Anything besides that? ”
That was a short visit though, Blake jumped like a crazy bunny from the wheelchair to the car, arriving faster than normal I think!

A lot of ice, some medication, or better yet, the miracle cream of Russel White will help them both recover, and if it really does wonders, to get back on the bike tomorrow, the third day at Red Bull Romaniacs!

To hell and back

…well it wasn’t exactly going to hell, but the road to Petrosani and back was gruesome enough! How can Romania be the land of so many contrasts? Did you have enough time to notice this or was the race so tiring that you only had eyes for the pillow after it?
No one will argue with you about the beauty of romanian landscape, especially when you cross the most beautiful part of it (in my opinion)- Parang mountains with lake Vidra and the surroundings look like an all natural paradise. Do you realise how lucky you are to see places some people only dream of? To pass lands where some don’t even dare to walk?
My opinion? – I think you have to go through hell to reach paradise. It’s lost somewhere in the mountains and a few lucky people in this world dare to find lost paradises far away from civilisation, wandering the lands, seeing breathtaking places and going beyond their limits trying to accomplish every quest with success, passing all the obstacles in their way.
Were you one of these people or the only breathtaking experience was the exhaustion from three days riding in the forests?
It was real hard enduro to go to Petrosani and back to Sibiu, reaching 2500 m altitude on your way and some of the riders didn’t make it back on the bike. Lucky or not, you came back whole, but the race starts to feel deep down in your bones. Your muscles ache, you feel completely sore once you reach the finish line and relax a little. Your hands are hard and hurt, your body a little bruised, your legs tired and your mind is questioning your stamina to complete another day of racing tomorrow.

The grim looking town of Petrila was once again animated by the riders who climbed and descended the old building of a communist coal mine industry who used to sustain the whole area. Those times are long gone, the locals try to move on, but you can feel the sadness in their eyes and in their homes. Events such as Romaniacs point out perfectly how treasures stay hidden in remote areas, how amazing landscapes could be promoted into large business, if only everything around there didn’t look so 50 years ago!

The same thing works for the road to Petrosani and back, on the under contruction route of TransAlpina, the highest road in Romania. Before you reach the altitude of approx 2000 m in the Obarsia Lotrului area, down in the valley near Sugag, you could see packs of cars parked by the road and small colourful heads between the trees near by. Stop and walk around for two minutes, follow the noise and you’ll see things you wouldn’t imagine to happen so close to the road. Brave riders going up and down the steep hills did a great show for those who knew when to stop and where to sit for the best view. Some of them got lost on the way, some got injured, some had problems with the bike: Alfredo Gomez reached the service point without brakes, so he was a point of interest going down without them on such steep descents!

The third day explored the mountains of Parang and Lotrioara, with a finish line in the Olt Valley, near the brink of the river. Some of the riders complained about the fog they encountered in the alpine zone above 2000 m elevation: they couldn’t admire the view, moreover they got lost on the way! Everyone had a nice surprise from Romaniacs’ top track manager, the rain, the one who spiced up the competition during the third day of riding in the forst!

The worst accidents of the day? From what you’ve seen and what we’ve heard there was a close left turn somewhere on the track and on the best line there was a huge hole in which at least 10 riders fell and got injured. Your heart skipped a beat when you thought you’ll go down too, but you actually managed to stay on track!

One more day. Does it sound good? You’ve learned by now not to judge to quickly when it comes to what Martin Freinadametz considers an easier day!
Breathe deep and go to bed. One more day to go until you complete your goal, finishing the anniversay 10’th edition of Red Bull Romaniacs!

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