Kitt Stringer believes the Red Bull Romaniacs is as good a place as any to begin his foray into the world of hard enduro racing.
If you’ve never heard of the Red Bull Romaniacs, it is billed as the world’s toughest enduro. This off-road dirt bike race, which takes place in the Carpathian Mountains near the city of Sibiu, Romania, consists of five five- to 19-hour days of riding some of the most challenging terrain imaginable. Riders from England, Germany, France, New Zealand, the U.S. and other countries around the world go to the Red Bull Romaniacs to test their grit, skill and determination. Many of them do not even make it across the finish line. Only a handful of Canadians have ever competed at the Red Bull Romaniacs, and this July, Stringer will be among them.
A firefighter for the city of Victoria, B.C., Stringer, 36, got his first dirt bike in 2009. Three years later, he started competing in local races on Vancouver Island. He followed the Vancouver Island Harescramble Series (VIHSS) in 2011 and spent the season in the Vet Am class. This year, he’s moved up to the Vet Expert class in the VIHSS, and when I spoke to Stringer in April, he had just returned from the prestigious Desert 100 off-road race in Odessa, Washington. Out of 966 entries, Stringer finished in 91st place aboard his 2013 Husaberg TE300. The Desert 100, which took four hours for Stringer to complete, was the longest race he’s ever done, so why does he have his heart set on the Red Bull Romaniacs?
“I saw a video of it and I thought that was pretty cool,” said Stringer. “The more I ride locally here, the more people say, ‘Hey, you should go try a hard enduro,’ so I thought 'OK, I don’t know anything about it, but they must know what they are talking about.' They market it as the toughest one in the world, so I guess that’s a good place to start.”
Conditioning for the race
Since January, Stringer has been training seven days a week in preparation for the upcoming Red Bull Romaniacs—which runs from July 2 to 6, 2013.
“I have been on my bike three or four days a week, I do CrossFit Taranis three or four days a week and I have been pedal biking twice a week,” said Stringer.
CrossFit Taranis is one of the many businesses that are sponsoring Stringer’s race season and goal to complete the Red Bull Romaniacs. It’s not cheap—between flights, accommodations and the entry fee and rental of a bike, Stringer is looking at a cost of about $8,000. Husaberg Romania is supplying a rental bike for Stringer as well as for his riding partner, Esteban Torres, who will also be competing at this year’s Red Bull Romaniacs. The two racers will be accompanied by friend and mechanic Paul Gallagher—a motocross champion from Victoria.
“We’ll sort of be the poor Canadian cousins off to the side, but riders like Graham Jarvis will be pitting out of that area so it will be pretty neat,” said Stringer. “They will let us ride for three or four days to let us get used to the bikes and the terrain, and then the race will start.”
Both Stringer and Torres have signed up for the Hobby class, but if the conditions are right, Stringer said, he may be competing in the Expert class.
“They advise all first-timers to race in the Hobby class,” said Stringer. “I think that based on my skill level, I can do OK in the Expert class, but if it rains, it’s almost impossible. If it’s dry weather, I will consider Expert.”
Stringer’s goal is simply to finish the race—but he's ready to push himself, he said.
“I’m definitely going to go hard and with a finish-line goal in mind," he said, "but if I find myself in a good position, I’m definitely going to fight for it. I don’t expect to be in a top 10 position, but who knows.”
Plans for the rest of the season
Next on Stringer’s agenda after the Red Bull Romaniacs is a team relay race for the Baja 1000 in Mexico.
“That will be in November, so as soon as I am back from Romania doing the technical stuff, I will start training for the higher speed stuff, so that should be pretty cool,” he said.
It’s obvious that Stringer likes competition, but this athlete's main concern is having fun.
“I’m not going to turn pro or anything—I just want to race for fun,” he said. “I just like to ride in new areas, meet new people and enjoy the lifestyle. I think it’s important to promote the sport and get as many people involved in it as possible. I joined the board of directors for our Vancouver Island Dirt Riders Association and we try to promote places to ride and riders' safety, and I take beginners out and (organize) ladies ride clinics on the side for fun.”
After the Red Bull Romaniacs, Stringer said he will continue to pursue the hard enduros. The FIM International Six Days of Enduro, a.k.a. the “motorcycle Olympics,” is on his radar for 2014.
Name: Kitt Stringer
Lives in: Victoria, B.C.
Riding since: 2009
Rides: 2013 Husaberg TE300
Racing since: 2011
Circuits: Vancouver Island Harescramble Series
Sponsored by: Husaberg Canada, International Motorsports, Goldentyre Canada, Rekluse Canada, Crossfit Taranis, West Shore Motocross, Ryder's Eyewear, Vancouver Island Dirt Riders Association, Amped Electrical, Total Body Chiropractic, Blaine Shuttler Realty and Nikirk Contracting.