Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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Day two – “What, are they still racing today?”

Posted by desflurane on July 20, 2011

I was unable to get on the media bus today, and as a result have no sweet photos of the action to post.

And since I wasn’t there, I will blatantly steal the Romaniacs website press release for the day. Here it is:

After two days of Jarvis coming first in the rankings, it’s Birch’s turn to take the lead for the day. It has been a day of fast, fun riding with bitter, hard work at the end and great gestures of riders taking care of each other.

Sibiu, Romania, July 18th, 2011 – Update from Day 2 of the Red Bull Romaniacs, the toughest Hard-Enduro rallye of the planet. The sun was back today and scorched the track without mercy, which was no problem for most riders, since the pace was relatively high and people went fast. Most riders enjoyed the beautiful landscape and appreciated the cooling airflow, but were also struggling with the navigation at these speeds. Therefore quite a few riders teamed up, for example Chris Birch and Letti who seemed to have had a blast together and were exchanging track-stories right after the finish. Birch however was struggling with an old hand-injury, which he kept cooling in ice after the finish. Letti also had started the race handicapped with a torn tendon at his ankle and was suffering every time he had to put his foot down. Bringing a handicap to the race was not a big problem for most of the day, but…at the end, trackmanager Seppo had prepared an uphill section through a muddy riverbed filled with logs (Pros only). He is not a very popular man after inflicting this pain on the competitors; many Pro riders screamed his name in vain and promised to kill him.

The, so far, leading Jarvis riding like a surgeon (precise), was also struggling with navigation – which helped Birch take the lead from him for the day. Jarvis got kicked off his bike twice, during the higher speed passages but again showed a few unbelievable stunts in the steeper downhill sections. Graham Jarvis: “I started off really good, found a good rhythm – even though it was difficult in the long grass sometimes; but then I had a crash, hit a tree and I was also catching up on some hobby riders, waited for them and then had another crash in their dust – that kind of spoiled it a bit. I also missed a few turns, so I lost some time there. But there are still two days ahead and it’s going to be interesting.”

Chris Birch: “I had a much better day today and had an awesome time. The bike was great – these KTMs just seem to like this kind of abuse… The heat was not so much of a problem, the track was mainly quite flowing so got a bit of venting going on, it wasn`t so bad. Only the last bit, a muddy section in a riverbed with wood-logs allover the place was quite nasty.”

An amazing display of camaraderie today saw two pro riders sacrificing ten minutes from their race times to help fellow pro Darryl Curtis. Darryl faced a tough day today, perhaps his toughest in his history as a familiar face on the Romaniacs’ racetrack. Crashing at high speed in the woods, which sent him tumbling through the trees, had him believing that he was “finished”. Although he was not hurt his bike became stuck in a ravine, which is how Martin Volny and Emanuel Gyennes found him. Had Curtis been injured both riders would have been given the time back that they spent helping him, thankfully he wasn’t, and knowing this both Volny and Gyennes took the precious time to see him back on the track again. Rather than take the opportunity to make a lead on Curtis they showed true sportsmanship. It is acts like this that demonstrate the true Romaniacs’ spirit. Naturally they also teamed up for a while and rode together, later joined by Gerhard Forster.

Xavi Galindo also had a tough time, with the navigation and also with his bike, which took a few rather severe beatings. A torn fuel line and navigation problems had cost Xavi some serious time. The most extreme beating aside from the inevitable crashes that many people had, took Paul Boltons bike, which got it`s carburetor torn out of it by a branch; it cost him about 10 minutes. He still managed to have some good fun: “There were some fast bits on the top sections, they’re fun when there’s not too many rocks around and it’s a bit single trail sandy, flowy stuff. That’s good. And then obviously when you come to some logs or something in a gully and there’s a sort of natural kick to the side you can bounce over them next to some hobby riders or something, that they’re trying to climb over them themselves. That’s good, yeah.”

Letti: “It was a painful day, navigation was ok (note: most riders stated it was difficult…), but I am still very excited to race here, we have the world`s best extreme-Enduro riders here and I enjoy riding with them.”

This year we have father and son team, Romeo and Cristian Dunca, riding together and also enjoying the experience of riding with some of the world’s best. Local Romanian competitors; this family team are having lots of fun riding together out in the forest. Romeo Dunca, the father, participated in Dakar in 2005 and by coming 79th proved his worth as a fast rider even though he is competing in hobby team class for this competition. However, it is beginning to become apparent that his son Cristian has inherited some of his father’s capabilities, and Romeo is going to have to recognize that his son could well be his match.

We did, however, take a trip over the Transfaragasan highway – the twistiest, turniest bit of road I have ever seen! It was built by the Romanian military back in the 1970’s so that there was an easier way to move troops and equipment from Sibiu to Pitesti. Apparently they were a bit nervous that the Russians would come over for a “visit” and they wanted to be prepared.

The road has more turns, tunnels and viaducts than any other in Romania. It’s impressive.

About twenty five miles out of Sibiu the road climbs into dense forest and begins to wind up the steep valley. Very soon amazing views begin to appear in glimpses between the trees.

Miles of seemingly endless switchbacks lead to a wide, glacial valley above treeline where amazing views of the twisting road are available.

At the valley’s highest point, there is a large flat area beside an alpine lake. Being Romanians, locals have set up a nice shopping area of moveable huts and tents where snacks, local meats, cheeses and crafts can be purchased – for a reasonable price…

Upon leaving the bazaar, we entered the two-kilometer Transfaragan tunnel which leads to a descent similar to the climb just completed. The southern valley is lush and green in contrast to the barren, rocky northern valley.

It seemed to take forever to get down the other side. The road was not as steep and it is a good bit longer. By the time we got to the bottom I was getting quite ill – as Traci is the only one who can drive our rental, and I had been trapped in the passenger seat for the entire trip.

I felt better by the time we got onto the main highway leading back to Sibiu, but it was fairly miserable for a good hour or so.

It was an enjoyable trip, I’m glad we went. But I would rather have been following the race!

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