Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

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

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Moments with Martin

Posted by desflurane on January 21, 2012

I’ve been meaning to write about this experience from the 2011 Romaniacs, I just haven’t gotten it done until now. I thought it was worth mentioning.

Rewind back to July of 2011. I am in Sibiu, hobbling around just on the verge of weaning myself from crutches after my accident. I was meandering around taking pictures of the goings on, trying my best to “cover” the whole Romaniacs scene. Of course there were riders and support people everywhere, including some fairly well-known individuals (pro riders, for instance) and it was rather mind-boggling to take it all in.

As the prologue course was being set up, and throughout the prologue, Martin Freinadametz was to be seen buzzing around on a trials bike, overseeing the entire event. All went well – except for the torrential downpour that soaked everybody to the skin…

The next morning I was on the media bus careening along through the Romanian countryside trying to get to one of the “spectator” points before the pros blew through. We entered a quarry and set up cameras next to the roadside where the pros would be exiting the dirt road and heading up a steep hillside on a loose bit of single track.

As expected, the riders zoomed past us and many photos were snapped. All the other media people went dashing up the hill to get further shots of the riders as they battled their way up through the trees. Due to my gimp leg, I was left standing by myself beside the dirt road as the echoes of screaming motors faded into the forest.

The next spectator point was further up the road on the other side of the quarry. Since I had nothing better to do, I started limping along toward the next spot.

I had only gone perhaps one hundred yards when Martin came whipping down the road on his trials bike headed in the opposite direction. He spotted me, hit the brakes and pulled over.

“How’s the leg?” he asked.

I replied that it was “OK” or something like that. There was no way I was going to whimper about my aching, swollen leg in front of the very creator of the Romaniacs.

“It’s maybe four more miles to the next spectator point.” Martin said, clearly indicating that there was little possibility that I could actually walk there in my present condition.

Realizing the futility of my plan, I told Martin that I would just head back to the media bus and wait for the rest of the gang to return.

Certainly having something more important to do, Martin fired up his bike and vanished in a cloud of dust.

Now we move forward to the very end of the whole Romaniacs extravaganza – to the awards ceremony held in a bar near the HQ Ramada. Pretty much everybody who bothered to travel to Sibiu for this event has crammed themselves into this bar. In an establishment that could comfortably hold perhaps 150 people, somewhere around 500-700 living, breathing, drinking, smoking, SWEATING individuals are suffering indescribably in the sweltering heat, waiting for Martin to get up and announce the event’s winners.

Since I neither smoke nor drink, there isn’t much for me to do right now. I fought my way through the crowd to get over to the small group of “Media” people whom I had gotten to know over the past few days. My one real goal for the evening was to thank Volker Jacob (the media guru for Romaniacs) for allowing me to participate in some small way.

As I elbowed my way through the crowd, a voice right behind me asked “Are you the guy who came all the way from the United States?”

“Yes, that’s me,” I answered as I turned around, expecting to be greeted by one of the competitors who may have seen the photo of my bike broken in half (a few of them had). Instead, I was quite surprised to come face to face with Martin, grinning broadly and holding a drink in each hand.

“I heard about you, that you were going to compete, but hurt your leg – and came anyway,” he gestured toward me with one of the glasses, “I said ‘I’m going to by him a drink’ so here,” he handed me the glass.

We talked for a moment. He asked what had happened to me, what class I was planning to ride in, and whether I would try to come back next year.

I assured him that I would DEFINITELY be back to ride as soon as possible, and that I had really enjoyed my time there in Sibiu.

Again, having many other pressing tasks, Martin moved off through the crowd, slapping backs and distributing glasses of Red Bull mixed with some potent distilled liquor.

The temperature inside the bar neared 451 degrees Farenheit and I became fearful that napkins, straw wrappers and other paper goods might burst into flames at any moment, so I made my way past Graham Jarvis, Andreas Lettenbichler, Gerhard Forster and Paul Bolton to get outside into the alleyway in front of the bar. Savoring the relatively cool conditions and drastically higher oxygen tension Chris, the director of the medics for the event was there, leaning against a parked car and chatting with Erich Brandauer. Pretty cool despite the pressure-cooker atmosphere.

Well, I didn’t put it together until later but I think that when Martin stopped on the dirt road the first day he knew who I was and went a little bit out of his way to say hello and make sure I was doing alright. I assumed that he just saw my limp and took pity on me. While that may also be true, I think that his very pleasant gesture at the party shows that he is a very nice guy. I definitely appreciated him making a point of speaking to me again.

To be honest, everybody that I had dealings with at Romaniacs was the same way – very nice people, all having a good time putting on an extraordinary event.

I can’t wait to go back!

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