Participating in a tough motorbike event might not be a goal for some, but for Campbell Easton, it was on his bucket list.
Campbell spoke to Dannevirke Probus club last month about his experience at the Red Bull Romaniacs.
It’s considered to be the toughest hard enduro race in the world.
“It’s been on my bucket list for 10 years,” Campbell says.
Hard enduro is a different form of motorbike racing in that it is racing over steep, mountainous terrain, or as Campbell says, riding motorbikes where they shouldn’t be ridden.
For most of these events, the races tend to be one day and up to eight hours long and are physically demanding.
Red Bull Romaniacs is even tougher as it is a five-day race.
Campbell explained to the members that the race is held in Romania in the Carpathian Mountains.
“The mountain range is huge,” he says. “It’s like the South Island mountain range, but bigger.”
For perspective, he notes that the height difference from Dannevirke to the top of the Ruahine Ranges is about 450m in vertical elevation.
“Some of the hills that we were climbing in Romania were over 2000m in one climb.”
To make things even tougher, while the race was in August, hence summer, it could be 35 degrees in the valley, but there would be snow and a difference of 30 degrees in temperature.
Campbell says he had to train “pretty hard” for the race, keeping to a strict training programme for about a year, such as running 20km a week, going to the gym, riding about two or three times a week and racing every weekend.
“It’s a big commitment,” he says.
“Leading up to the race I was probably about as fit as I’d ever been really, but I still wasn’t fit enough.”
He explained that hard enduro is a difficult sport physically, but it’s also difficult mentally.
“Often in those last few hours it’s more of a mental challenge than anything else.”
The first day of the five-day event involved a ‘prologue’ race which was a short race around a man-made course in the middle of the city of Sibiu.
Campbell says the organisers brought in 500 tonnes of rocks and logs as well as other obstacles for the course.
“You have to race over these obstacles,” he says, and while the course itself seems easy, it’s also nerve-racking as there are thousands of spectators watching.
How the riders do in that course affects where their starting position would be and Campbell didn’t do well to get a good starting position for the next day’s race.
Out of a group of 180 in his class – silver – he was starting at 146th.
Campbell gave detailed descriptions of the race and some of the mishaps he and a fellow New Zealand team member went through, including storms in which communications cut out, negotiating steep hills and long hours of riding.
By day three of the main race, he got so behind he was eliminated from the race.
“After about eight hours of riding, I’d run out of water, I was extremely dehydrated, almost delirious.
“It was the end of the road for me.”
When the race was over, he was 97th out of 180.
Will he do it again?
“It feels like unfinished business.”