A local Coloradan gets his Red Bull wings after competing in the world’s ‘gnarliest’ motor bike race

Nickolas Wortham says that his goal for Red Bull Romaniacs 2023 was to simply finish the race. He credits training at altitude for his ability to finish the race.
Erin Rebecca O’Connor/Courtesy photo

From Grand Lake to Sibiu, Romania, Grand County resident Nickolas Wortham traveled over 5,700 miles to compete in one of the toughest motor bike races in the world. His goal? To finish.

“You can even call it gnarly like, it’s crazy,” Wortham said about his experience.   

Red Bull Romaniacs has made a name for itself as the world’s toughest hard enduro rally.

A competitor attempts to clear a steep incline during the fourth day of FIM Hard Enduro World Championship 2023 – Red Bull Romaniacs in Sibiu, Romania, on July 29. Grand County local, Nickolas Wortham, competed in the silver class.
Mihai Stetcu / Red Bull Content Pool

A hard enduro rally is a type of off road motorcycle race. This race tested participant’s endurance over a span of five days. Additionally, if racers do not meet time requirements between certain checkpoints, then they are disqualified.

Competitors from over 55 nations competed in this year’s race. Riders had their physical strength, endurance, navigation and technical skills pushed to their limits during the race.

Mother Nature was kind enough to start the race off with a thunderstorm that welcomed Wortham to Romania.

“Day one, there was a crazy thunderstorm. I was in the bottom of a creek and it was pouring rain, I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me,” said Wortham. “It was like 11 o’clock in the morning.”

The venue during the first off road day of Red Bull Romaniacs FIM Hard EnduroWorld Championship 2023.
Mihai Stetcu / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Romaniacs was founded by Martin Freinademetz and held its first race back in 2004. This race has taken place in central Romania ever since.

Participants are taken through the Romanian wilderness and into the Southern Carpathian Mountains by the course.

Wortham said that the environment is totally different from Colorado. The Grand Lake resident found himself in creeks surrounded by old-growth forest with trees over 100 feet tall at certain points during the race.

The course itself, Wortham says, was responsible for making this race so difficult. He completed 280 miles in four days with over 100,000 feet in elevation changes. He says that the steep technical trail makes it all the more challenging.

After finishing the race Nickolas Wortham said he was unable to make a fist for two days.
Erin Rebecca O’Connor/Courtesy photo

“Most of these hills and mountains we ride, you can’t even walk up,” Wortham said.

However, the trail itself isn’t the only thing Wortham had to overcome. If participants don’t meet certain time checkpoints, then they are disqualified.  

Wortham said that the elevation of Grand County helped him finish the race.

He added that training in Colorado has, without a doubt, improved his endurance and comfort level with riding in the mountains. He said that the altitude of the course maxed out at around 6,000 feet while the trails he’s used to riding in Colorado are anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation.

Manuel Lettenbichler at the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship 2023 Stop 3 – Red Bull Romaniacs.
Future 7 Media / Red Bull Content Pool

He raced in the silver class which is right below gold class. The gold class is reserved for only the best of the best in enduro racing.

Wortham believes that he would not have been able to compete in the race without the support of his sponsors. His list of sponsors includes local business Blue Water Bakery. Having a bakery as one’s sponsor also comes in handy after burning 50,000 calories during the race.

It took everything he had to finish the race, Wortham said in an interview with Sky-Hi News.

“My hands were pretty wrecked. Two days after (the race) I couldn’t even make a fist. They were that swollen from gripping the handlebars,” Wortham said.

However, he has no plans to slow down anytime soon. He plans on participating in a series of races held by the American Motorcycle Association. These races are held in states all across the United States, including California, Idaho and Pennsylvania.

He even has plans to gather some more of his friends and take them to Red Bull Romaniacs in 2025.

For many like Wortham, this race becomes a lifelong memory.

“It takes a couple of weeks to realize like holy crap, I just went to Romania for five days,” he said. “To say you made it to the finish line at Romaniacs isn’t a small feat, that’s for sure.”

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