Billy Bolt’s exclusive Enduro21 blog coming to you live and direct from Red Bull Romaniacs 2019, round five of the World Enduro Super Series.
In episode four of Billy Bolt's blog he talks about how hard hard enduro is getting, how much he enjoys the huge spectacle of the Romaniacs prologue and spills the beans on his daily routine in Romania from the early morning starts to how much he eats…
I have been looking forward to this week! Romaniacs is here at last and it is crazy how busy we have been since Lagares at the start of the year.
There have been a lot of races but also people don’t realise that we arrive the Monday or the Tuesday before the race and we’re walking 30 to 50 kilometres in the week, to walk the track. So when you’re not 100% and have to walk those distances to learn the track, especially with my foot, it’s been difficult, a really busy period of time.
I was happy to take the break after Hixpania actually. I went to South Africa for 11 days, down to my girlfriend’s house for a bit, and then did a race there, the Inner City Enduro. It’s kind of a SuperEnduro race in the city that I raced for fun and ended up winning, which was nice. It was a pretty sick event really. It’s nice to do a few races there for the South African fans. I tried to make the most of it.
Maybe not everyone spotted I also took a break from enduro and did the Manx 2 Day Trial in the Isle of Man. The Manx was a laugh, such a good weekend. Non-stop laughter from start to finish. I only decided to do it a couple of weeks before with a bunch of motocross and enduro mates – I was nearly the only trials rider.
We got a late entry and I got put at the back, which meant a very late start on the first day but then first to start the second day. That was the worst day to be at the front. It was really slippery!
I didn’t take the first day particularly seriously but I was still in a reasonable position, and I gave up walking sections pretty early so when you’re not walking sections and the rivers are like glass there isn’t much hope!
Anyway, I was there just to have a laugh with the boys and it definitely delivered that. I think that for our type of racing as long as you’re on two wheels it’s training and it’s beneficial. We need all different types of skills and as long as you’re riding a motorbike I think that it can be classified as training. A couple of beers at night time is not strictly the best training but all-round it was a fantastic weekend.
A few people have been talking about how hard some of the hard and extreme enduros have become this year, particularly Hixpania Hard Enduro. I think it’s definitely a fine line which it's been pushing closer and closer to.
The nature of the last day at Hixpania allows it to be super difficult – there are only 50 riders racing by that stage in a really close area with lots of marshals and there isn’t a lot of lapped traffic, so a race with that set-up allows for a really difficult track on the last day.
“It was close to the limit, but at the end of the day we’re doing Extreme Enduro.”
There were definitely a few spots where it wasn’t difficult but the consequences if you made a mistake where pretty high and that’s not so funny. In Romaniacs there are sections that you don’t see that are equally as risky and dangerous, and you have to ride them after having been seven hours on the bike for three days and there can be no-one at all there to help.
There is definitely danger in every race and it is getting close to the limit. There are sections where we are just pushing off the bike, not because the difficulty of it but because of the consequences or the drop you’re going to go down if you make a mistake.
One thing to consider is there are times where it has to be like that to make the lap work or the day flow. As long as you’re well warned or if there is a good amount of people there, if it has to be in it has to be.
I think Hixpania did a pretty good job of having a lot of marshals in the off camber by the lake and it rode a lot better than it looked. There’s obviously a couple of videos of guys going for swims but it’s Extreme Enduro, it was close to the limit, but at the end of the day we’re doing Extreme Enduro.
Looking at the whole WESS championship, to get a true all-round enduro champion, you need the fast races that take you as fast as you can go and have their own dangers too. So I don’t see why the extreme races shouldn’t be as any other race. For WESS everyone has a race that suits them perfectly and a race that they’re going to struggle with.
Romaniacs is here and like every year, we don’t know much about the course. There is no question that it’s going to be hard. For me, at this time, it’s really difficult to enjoy it just because the days are so long. I don’t think that they need to be as long as they are.
There are parts of the track that are so sick, really loamy forest, fast flowing trails and some of the up and down hills are unbelievable. There are some where you think ‘wow!, I have been climbing for 20 minutes’ without pushing but then by the time you get to the finish when you have been riding for like six hours you struggle to remember the enjoyable part. When you look back at it you think that it’s a crazy race, a hell of an adventure, it’s such an achievement to reach the finish line.
“We are up early…normally it’s something between 3.45am and 4.15am”
You can probably tell that from last year’s race, I really enjoyed the prologue – like I enjoy any SuperEnduro kind of course. It’s quite unique and there are not many prologues that have that technical level to them. It gets pretty close to the limit of being mental but for me it is still rideable even if I know that many people struggle with it.
But it is massive and there are so many people in Sibiu watching it on the side of the street and the whole buzz during the day of the prologue is pretty crazy, definitely a fitting start to such an epic race. I don’t know if it’s my favourite part of the race but at this time it’s what I enjoy the most. I know where the start and the finish is which is way more that you can say about the rest of the days, I like that part of it!
Romaniacs throws up a pretty crazy daily routine. We are up early, depending on how far away the start from the hotel is, normally it’s something between 3.45am and 4.15am.
After two or three days it’s not easy but I do try to get up as early as possible just to eat as much food as possible because you have a long day ahead. In my experience in the race I haven’t had a day that’s less than six hours long and sometimes is up to nine hours so you need to try and eat as much food as possible to have the energy.
The start is usually early, something between 6am and 6.30am and then depending on how long, how difficult or how I ride, you usually finish early afternoon. The earlier you finish the longer nap that you can take. I usually finish and try to eat something straight away and get back to the hotel, get a shower and try to have an hour or an hour and a half sleep just to catch up a little bit of sleep. Then I get up and prep everything for next day, sort the hydration packs out, get the helmets and googles ready.
Afterwards I’ll have a late afternoon meal and go down to see how the mechanics are getting on with the bike, check if there has been any damage, give some feedback about the tyres, mousses, suspension and see if there’s anything you want to change for the next day. It’s important to keep them in good spirit, it’s also a long week for them and they even get less sleep than us so it’s important to be with them and have a chat and a laugh.
After I eat my evening meal and usually the riders briefing it’s at 9.30pm and then I go to sleep until 4 o’clock the next morning.
Anyway, the prologue is calling. I better get my boots on…till the next time.