Okay, so where was I? I have to apologize a little bit here. Obviously, I did not get a proper day 4 story written before I had to catch a flight out of Romania. There was far too much going on.
Well before sunrise on day 4 I had to be out to the start line to do the live blog. Then we were not sure if it was posting to the website correctly, so I rode back to the hotel to get on the computer. Then it was back out to the start area again, where I hit the course to ride a full day.
This is the kind of situation where I find myself trapped between the challenge of being a journalist or motorcyclist. For example, at the end of Day 4 when the action was coming to a climax at the end of the event, I was nowhere to be found. As Graham Jarvis and company hit the final hill climb, I was still out on the course riding around with all the guys who were about my speed. I missed any chance for finish line photos, but got a great day of riding in.
When we left off from my previous log entry, I had ridden the entire day 3 course and it had turned out to be very hard. I added a few challenges of my own to it. Day 2 had been the overnight “away” stop, so I was backpacking most of my kit. I started out on day 3 carrying a few extra things with me. Expecting rain, I was wearing Gore-Tex pants and jacket. In my backpack were my computer, camera and phone. I was thinking of this as I was bulldogging my bike down the hill they called “The Beast”. “Should I really be doing this with my computer on my back”?
Day 4 was a much easier ride day, but it was also longer and hotter. I could see the fatigue in many of the riders. The day started out looking just like a national enduro. The trail was narrow and wandered up and down a number of small ravines. I took a bad line and got stuck in one particularly steep creek crossing. Not a big deal, but it was full of mud and by the time I got the TE300 out, I had managed to cover myself with a nice even layer of slime. Every racer hates getting dirty right at the start of a day.
Like the previous days, I spent much of my time marveling at how easy the 300 Husaberg was to ride. I think I forgot to explain how I ended up on the 300 to begin with. My blog partner and I had two bikes from which to choose. I originally took the Husaberg 570, figuring I had more experience with the big bore. As it turned out, my partner had no two stroke experience and did not feel at home on the 300. I was fortunate enough to end up with it. This is the kind of course where I almost never got on to the main jet, perfect 300 conditions.
As part of the official blogging crew, our job was to do live posts from the race start, service point and finish of each day. The organizers tasked us with this primary job. But, there was a secondary goal also, to help relate the race experience to the folks back home in hopes of seeing more Americans participate in the future. It did not take long for everyone to agree that the best way for me to do this was to just get out and ride the course to give a firsthand view of the experience. Tough assignment, but someone had to do it, take one for the team so to speak. The TE300 and I became quick friends.
Out on the trail, the Romaniacs pace never quite feels like a full blown race. It is more like an ISDE trail pace. The length of the days and the extreme challenges keep everyone in a conservation mode. Even the pro riders don’t roost off the line in the morning. By the end of 4 days of racing, the strain is showing on everyone’s face.
I have a couple of stories to tell from Day 4:
Another Berg – About midday, I come up on a mud hole with one rider on a two stroke Husaberg stuck in it. He asks if I can help him out. I ride around the hole, park my bike and walk back in the water. The rider is looking very tired and can’t start his bike. I take the bike, put it in neutral and it starts first kick. I am thinking that is a rather sick sounding motor. I get on to ride it out and the bike will hardly move. I have to give it far more throttle and clutch to get rolling. I get out of the mud with relative ease. Looking down at what I assume is a very sick motor, I realize it is a 125! As they don’t sell that model in the US, it had never occurred to me that was what it was.
Too Much Racer – I have one sort of embarrassing story from the day. I had stopped to help a number of riders for various reasons, some stuck and others with bike problems. As the day wore on, I was feeling a little more in race mode and ready to see the finish line. Sometimes it is hard to turn the racer switch off.
We are riding down a water canyon and I come up on a bottleneck. There is a log across the ravine and to get past requires pushing the bike underneath. The log is low and it was a short, but difficult, push to get past. There is one rider stuck half way underneath and he has half a dozen others held up behind him. He is just sitting there, making no attempt at progress, tired and not going to move until he is good and ready.
This is not the kind of thing I would normally put up with in a race, move or prepare to be moved! Forgetting that I am “just riding around”, I charge in and try to push my bike past (or over) this stalled rider. This finally gets him motivated and a string of foreign unpleasantness spews forth. However, once he decides to move, now I am stuck. I realize I have made a mess of things because my bike is now in the way of the riders behind me. So I help push all the other bikes through, before trying to get mine free.
Once that little event was over and I remind myself that I am not in the race, I just cruise around to the end of the day. There are plenty of great views to enjoy and photo opportunities.
I get to the finish. As I said, I decided not to tackle any of the final hill climbs. I ride around to the top of the big hill. Looking down from the top is a very impressive sight. The last section is nearly vertical. I watch a few of the Hobby riders make valiant efforts at the climb, but none reach the last big section. Looking at the nearly vertical climb, I have to admit that all I can think about is how to gracefully dismount from the inevitable fall without twisting either of my fragile knees.
There is a big party going on at the finish line, beer garden and everything. Most of the town has come out to see it. But as I still have a number of tasks to complete before catching a very early flight home the next morning. I point the Husaberg back towards Sibiu and say goodbye to the racing and festivities.
During the pleasant ride back to town I have time to enjoy the day and sights of town a little before packing everything up. I have to place this event right at the top of the list for places and races that I have been to. It was wonderful to have the chance to come and be a part of it.
That is the end of the race and my adventure. My experience has left me with one problem. I feel like I have a little unfinished business in Sibiu and need to return to do the race proper. I have one more story to write, a nuts and bolts feature of how to plan for the 2013 Romaniacs. Of course the timing works out perfect, as I will be a year younger next time around.