"Relax and enjoy it," says Mani Lettenbichler
© Mihai Stetcu/Red Bull Content Pool
Enduro

Red Bull Romaniacs rookies: this is the survival guide you need

Red Bull Romaniacs is already one of the toughest off-road motorbike races in the world, but what if it's your first time? Here are your tips for success.
By Paul Keith
9 min readPublished on
Part of this story

FIM Hard Enduro World Championship

The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship is a new …

Red Bull Romaniacs

Renowned as the world’s toughest Hard Enduro …

Romania

Manuel Lettenbichler

German enduro rider Manuel Lettenbichler is …

GermanyGermany

Jonny Walker

British rider Jonny Walker is one of the leading …

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Tadeusz Błażusiak

A naturally gifted rider, Poland's Tadeusz …

PolandPoland

Wade Young

At 16, Wade Young became the youngest-ever winner …

South AfricaSouth Africa

Cody Webb

A fluid and smooth enduro rider from California, …

United StatesUnited States

Marcel Hirscher

Austrian slalom specialist Marcel Hirscher won a …

AustriaAustria
If, like Austrian skiing legend Marcel Hirscher, you're about to tackle the beast that is Red Bull Romaniacs for the first time, how do you give yourself a fighting chance of making the finish line? We've rounded up some of the most expert opinions in Hard Enduro to show us the way.

1. Prepare for success by getting in lots of practice…

Mani Lettenbichler, two-time Red Bull Romaniacs winner and WESS world champion. “You don't want to go too crazy with training before such a big event, but I’m happy with my preparation. It was intense but pretty good. I had two long days riding in Italy with Michele Bosi, the organiser of Abestone. He’s a really good friend of mine and it’s important to ride with people who are at a really high standard. When I go to Italy, I almost always go to his place because we can ride some challenging, gnarly stuff and he rides to a high standard.”
Graham Jarvis, six-time Red Bull Romaniacs winner and Hard Enduro legend. “It's all about the preparation for this race, so lots of riding, fitness and training. And then the week before, get a lot of rest, eat well and make sure you’re ready.”

2. Get your body ready for five days of intensive racing

Paul Bolton, Red Bull Romaniacs podium finisher and Red Bull TV analyst and trackside reporter. “Eating and drinking right is 100 percent crucial. From about a week before the race, you want to start loading up with food and get more sleep than usual because you're going to need it. I used to lose so much through the race that I'd actually be exhausted and almost ill for about two weeks after the race because I’d put my body through that much stress. That's why getting it right before the race is really important.”
Volker Jacob, journalist and Red Bull Romaniacs organiser. “Be prepared to fight multiple days in the row. The thing that usually beats people is the long days. Most people can ride at their best for one or two days, but at the third day it gets very tough to get up in the morning and get back on the motorbike.”
Get a taste of what the riders are up against:
Enduro · 28 min
Red Bull Romaniacs recap

3. When you go training, go with a friend who’s at a similar level

Mani Lettenbichler: “Billy Bolt has come training with me a few times and we’ve held some proper training camps down there. We’re big rivals, for sure, and when we’re racing, we’re in competition mode, but as soon as we cross the finish line, we’re good friends again. The reason we train together quite a lot that it helps us to keep improving and at a faster rate. We push one another to keep getting better.”

4. Spend time setting up your bike

Jonny Walker, privateer and two-time Red Bull Romaniacs winner. “I’m riding a new bike that no one’s ever really raced in extreme enduro. The bike’s really good. Beta have been really helpful. I’m working on my own, but if I need anything, they’re really good at helping out. Me and my mechanic have only really had the bike from the start of the year, so we haven’t had a lot of time, but I think we’ve got a really good set-up and we’re well placed for Red Bull Romaniacs.”
A good team helps you get your head in the right space to fight for five days in the mountains
Paul Bolton

5. Have a good support team with you

Paul Bolton: “A good team helps you get your head in the right space to fight for five days in the mountains. Graham [Jarvis] relies on his mechanic Damo Butler to help with set-ups, strategy and to keep his spirits up because he’s got more of an understanding of Hard Enduro from the back seat. Mani’s going to listen to his dad, Letti, because he’s been there, done it and got the t-shirt.”
Mani Lettenbichler: “My dad is full-on my support team. He’s always there for me. When I retire we’ve agreed that he’ll go back to racing and I’ll support him!”

6. Expect the unexpected

Martin Freinademetz, founder of Red Bull Romaniacs and former pro snowboarder. “The track is different every year. We didn’t change so much this year because last year's race was held in October, which gave us less time to find new tracks. But we have built a lot of knowledge from the past 18 years and we mix things up to make it interesting and ensure there are as many surprises as possible. That’s why we’ve added a marathon stage, so we can go deeper into the countryside and explore further out.”

7. Know that the weather is unpredictable

Paul Bolton: “The weather is another interesting factor. The thing about Red Bull Romaniacs is you could set off in one valley where it’s been raining and then find that the rest of the area is bone dry. And if you’ve set up for wet weather, you’re going to struggle.”
Martin Freinademetz: “It’s been years since we’ve had such good weather, so if it holds perhaps everybody can have a nice relaxing time. The rain makes it more dramatic. It not only makes it harder for the riders, it makes it harder for us to organise – so nobody really wants it.”

8. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Jonny Walker: “The biggest thing is that it’s such a long race that you need to save your energy to get through the week. It used to be a bit of a cruiser race, but these days it’s like sprinting for eight hours a day. The pace is crazy now.”
Graham Jarvis: “It's a long race. For the Gold Class, you’ve got to go flat out from start to finish, but for Silver and Bronze, you just want to play it safe, keep the bike moving don't mess around too much so you finish. If you’re not fighting the bike, you can definitely save a bit of energy.”
Paul Bolton: “You have to know when to push and when not to push in this race and it’s a feeling you develop with experience. Taddy Błażusiak could even win it. He’s fit enough, strong enough and he’s definitely got the skills. But he’s such a competitor that he’s still trying to win it on the first day and it’s all about being there on the final day in a fighting position when you’re dialled in with your vision and your body, and tuned in with your bike.”

9. What are the pros' strategies?

Mani Lettenbichler: “Oh, I’m going as fast as possible from the start! It’s such a long race that it’s impossible to predict what’s ahead, so I’m going to go for it and give it my best.”
Jonny Walker: “Sprint from start to finish. Just race every day from start to finish and get through all the obstacles as fast as possible. You can’t win it on the first day, but you can certainly set yourself up for the rest of the week. You don’t want to start on the back foot.”

10. Know who your main rivals are

Mani Lettenbichler: “There are some favourites, but it's really hard to predict. If you have one mechanical issue or get lost one time, it can put you down the order. I don’t think you can really say who is going to win until the last day.”
Jonny Walker: “It’s between Mani and Billy (Bolt). Those two are riding to an amazingly high standard, they’re both young and they’re both free on injury, so they’re the ones to beat. I’m sure the championship is going to be decided between them. Mani will do well in Romania, although Billy is in great form. Graham, Mario Roman and me will be in with a shout. There’s five or six riders who could get on the podium.”
Paul Bolton: “It’s going to be a fight between Billy and Mani and I'm not sure who it's going to be. Third spot could be Wade Young. Cody Webb, who's going for the first time. Graham’s going to be in the mix. He could even take the win. It’s going to be interesting to watch Jonny. He’s loving his Beta. I had a go on it a couple of weeks ago and it was very well set up and felt like a really nice bike to ride. But he’s busy setting up his new team, having been sidelined by injury for so long, so I just don’t know if he’s been doing enough riding to be able to compete for the whole event.”
Graham Jarvis: “Mani and Billy Bolt are on form. The top five or six riders are competing at a such a high level that there’s no aspect that I can beat them on anymore. I have to get it right every day of the race."
Volker Jacob: “Mani has superior riding skills, strength and power, and now he’s learned to be a master strategist. But Graham knows the Romanian forest in and out, he’s an expert on navigation and he has such powers of concentration that he knows how to keep up the pressure on other riders in front of him. He’s like a chess master. He’s still the best at that. Last year he only missed his seventh win by about two minutes.”

11. Don’t forget to have fun

Martin Freinademetz: "I took part in lots of different competitions, rally, Hard Enduro, cross country and really hard stuff like Red Bull Erzbergrodeo and I tried to combine the best of them in Red Bull Romaniacs. I didn’t know if it was going to be a success, but when we had double the number of entrants after the second year, we realised that people really liked the idea. The location is so important, because we have so many great possibilities for great riding here in Romania."
Mani Lettenbichler: “For me it’s important to have a fun time and not be too intense, just more about a good time with your mates. The riding at Red Bull Romaniacs is probably the best you’ll get all season and it’s important to relax and enjoy it. Don't think about fighting or trying to pass this rider or when it’s going to be the finish – just enjoy the ride, because when you’re enjoying yourself, you’re going to ride better.”

12. Lucky for you, Hard Enduro is a friendly sport

Mani Lettenbichler: “The community is so nice. There’s good people in the paddock and everyone makes the most of it. That’s why I love this sport so much.”
Graham Jarvis: “Even in the race, we help each other out. You’re riding together and there’s no dirty tricks like people trying to knock each other off. Everybody wants to get to the finish and have fun at same time.”

2021 Red Bull Romaniacs schedule

  • Tuesday, July 27: Time trial qualification (TTQ)
  • Wednesday, July 28: Off-road day 1
  • Thursday, July 29: Off-road day 2
  • Friday, July 30: Off-road day 3
  • Saturday, July 31: Off-road day 4
Part of this story

FIM Hard Enduro World Championship

The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship is a new …

Red Bull Romaniacs

Renowned as the world’s toughest Hard Enduro …

Romania

Manuel Lettenbichler

German enduro rider Manuel Lettenbichler is …

GermanyGermany

Jonny Walker

British rider Jonny Walker is one of the leading …

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Tadeusz Błażusiak

A naturally gifted rider, Poland's Tadeusz …

PolandPoland

Wade Young

At 16, Wade Young became the youngest-ever winner …

South AfricaSouth Africa

Cody Webb

A fluid and smooth enduro rider from California, …

United StatesUnited States

Marcel Hirscher

Austrian slalom specialist Marcel Hirscher won a …

AustriaAustria