Welcome to Red Bull Romaniacs! Before we go live with this week's prologue, Christian Panny tracked the race founder Martin Freinademetz to his layer in darkest Transylvania and learned the history of one of the toughest hard enduro races on the calendar.
Thanks to Bram Stoker, Transylvania may be eternally connected with the supernatural – but thanks to Martin “Frejn” Freinademetz there’s plenty to celebrate in the real world.
Set against the incredibly beautiful landscape in the heart of Romania, Red Bull Romaniacs is much more down-to-earth. Talk about a race you can sink your teeth into.
Like many great stories, the roman de Romaniacs begins with a woman: Sigi Freinademetz.
Her husband and his friends used to travel all over Europe to take part in races, but in 1995 the enduro widow went to see her grandparents in Romania.
"When Sigi came home, she told us that she thinks this is a fantastic enduro course," says Martin, "So the following summer we loaded the bikes on our trailers and drove down. "
What they found was not so much a course for a pleasant afternoon rallying, but the perfect conditions for "a very long very hard hardcore enduro race”.
“We looked at the Roof of Africa and took that as our measure for toughness," Freinademetz adds. "In this part of Romania there's almost no end to the terrain so we very quickly came up with the format of a GPS rally. "
Martin Freinademetz, born 1969 in Innsbruck, multiple snowboard world champion, snow mobile enthusiast as well as FMX and rally rider (portrayed here at the Rally Dakar 2010) is the founder of Red Bull Romaniacs. Photo © Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool
From its very first outing in 2004, Red Bull Romaniacs became one of the best Hard Enduro races on the calendar backdrop testing the pros to the limit against a spectacular backdrop of Romanian forests.
Freinademetz designed the Pro line for the 2012 edition specifially as a test for the very best riders. "There are certainly parts that mere mortals can barely walk over,” he said. “I think there are probably only 50 riders in the world who can take on the the Romaniacs Pro track and reach the end. "
'We looked at the Roof of Africa and took that as our measure for toughness'
But that’s not to the detriment of the amateur riders. Freinademetz admits they are an essential part of the spirit of the Romaniacs. "The hobby line is designed so that experienced enduro riders will be very challenged but not overwhelmed. You don’t have to be a trial expert in order here to come through the enduro."
And it’s a stiff test for amateur and pro alike – and one that gets progressively harder each day. "Every day will give each class a lot of adventure and challenge."
So the opening two days introduce the riders to the Enduro, and then it gets serious from day three. You only have to look at the names of the sections to guess what Freinademetz has in store for the riders. Black Mamba, Please No Rain or Red House Loop.
"The riders may sweat a bit, but that’s what makes it memorable," (Christian Panny)
- Watch the last day of the 2011 Red Bull Romaniacs
- More Hard Enduro on redbull.com
- Visit the official Red Bull Romaniacs site