We did similar ride last year in June with Ian G. and Andy B. and repetition is mother of wisdom, isn’t it? And as we want to be smart arses… we did it again.
South Wahibas in this time of year are usually under influence of strong passat (or is it monsoon?) from India which brings cool sea winds (and attract windsurfers to Masira) so usually there is 10 dgr cooler there than in Muscat, right? Well, it would be true if in Muscat was 59. But it wasn’t. In simple words, it was hucking fot 49 C. Ride as no udder.
We went down there in 2 batches. Ray Prescott, Adrian Brown and me after usual faffing we left Muscat in quite good time before 6 and with usual curry stop in Sinaw we were “down there” in time to drag “good man” from his curry to give us 2 rooms in local Shangrilla - Mahoot motel. We pushed bikes to court yard and some locals even parked their pick up loaded with cool boxes behind us. Not to be blocking each others in the morning we exchanged room numbers… which looked like invitation for late night party… Nelson could leave from MCT only around 8 but arrived just after we finished our beers. So good timing too… as he had more beers in his coolbox, but we decided to keep it there for “after ride”. Bad decision. He looked around room: “This is the place where to bring family for weekend…” … … … naaawt. We switched off too noisy a/c and slept ok. Nobody came to knock on our doors…
Next morning started early. Nelson had flat front tire (reported already the evening before), we made temporary bike stand from 2 bricks in the shade of building and after necessary involved faffing with slime etc. changed the tube on the sandy ground with usual plastic rubbish and some rests of rotting chicken wing. Adrian showed off with valve puller, I helped with my levers, Nelsson ran around and Ray took photos…
Wheel installed back and chicken wing removed from the rim. Time for breakfast - in cofeeshop next door. Eggs and naan.
That done, lets go for ride… well… first stop was Tyre repair shop to pump Nelsson’s tire, but bubbles coming from below tire lock did not look promissing. “Sorry guys, looks like no ride for me today”. Sadly we could not do more and it was already after 8 so we were off.
Plan was to ride direct line from Mahoot to Landy close to east coast. Approximately in the half way I had some old waypoint “Camp” where we (surprise, surprise) camped few years back. First 10 kms is just plain but soon came patches of sand and first dunes. Dunes here are just small heaps of sand white as sugar, then flat parts with camel grass and also some trees. We stopped for short rest just to check if everything is ok and off we went. Dunes were relatively soft, motorbikes got usual dose of abuse.
In some soft patch my bike sunk over the axles in sand and it was quite effort to extract it. Little bit further suddenly deep bowl materialised in front of me, I almost fell heels over tits, but I saved it in last moment, but my arms felt as wrecked out of shoulder sockets… apart of it we rode ok, almost cruising. I said almost. Bigger rolling dunes replaced small ones. We were riding with wind which caused that both us and bikes were boiling (and when pressed on trottle on the edge of dune hand full of sand was blowed just back over ourselves) as there was no air flow. Then we just stopped and pointed bikes back to let wind do the cooling. Off we went and soon we got to “Camp” way point – just cluster of trees in the middle of nowhere, but provided cool shade for snacks.
Then we just pointed on LANDY wp on gps-es and pressed GO TO and off we went. Now “bigger rolling dunes“ changed to really big dunes. Light was so bright that it was almost impossible to recognize the edges. Some of them were like big round belly – we went slowly not to hit edge with high speed but edge was all the time in front of us till we descended – oops, that was smooth, I could go faster. Next dune we hit it with speed – but after the edge was steep and long slipface, whoa… sometimes with threateningly looking muddy/rocky patches on the bottom. After one of them I had “technical dismount” and Ray almost joined me.
Closer we were to coast the bigger were dunes but so was also our excitement. Revving up the dune, then descend gently… and another… and next one please… Temperature already climbed to 49 and we started to feel it. From now and then we stopped for short rest and cooling of engines. What a marvelous landscape – just huge dunes, sea of sand, not a straw of grass…
During one of this stops we noticed slim gray line on horizon … with lorry driving on it. New highway. We were close. So off we were again. And there it was – LANDY. But what a pity view. What before was significant and famous landmark – now looks like heap of corrugated metal debris just 5 meters off the road.
Next target: VVBGDN – very big dune. We headed north on new highway, but feeling little bit bored we took sharp turn via camel grass to the beach.
We stormed up the beach but it was high tide which pushed us close to resting boats, and as riding knee deep in salty water is not our hobby, we decided to take faster highway. Crossing the village Adrian got caught in the fishing net so knife came in handy. But as it was not “sharpest knife in his drawer” it took some time. Out of nowhere came bedu boy – barefoot. He carried small broken plastic sink – when he stopped he stand on it – sand was really hot. It was already close to lunch time (“check out one 30 no problem” as was said by good man in motel), getting really hot so we reassessed the route and reluctantly rode back. VVBGDN must wait for next time – but we will be back – pwomiss.
But yet another important stop – view point about the beach. Last June Ian insisted to take pics here to tease “in china planted Mellor what we doin”. Guess who are we teasing now? ;)))
Then just rollercoaster dunes and then graded road southwards and when we were on the same longitude as Mahoot we turned right and followed straight line. Road looked easier option - Ray started to say several times “u r probably fitter riders then me” but we convinced him it’s easy… well, first 2 kms was horribly bumpy camel grass seeping life out of us, all our bones rattling. But then smoother dunes… and again camel grass… and dunes…. Etc. Fortunately from now and then there were also trees so we had rest in the shade, but we had to push on, only slightly more lethargic Ray was saying slightly more and more “u r probably fitter riders then me”, his face almost as red as his helmet and Adrian started to loose soome bits of bike (back light) – sign that we should better finish. Strong west wind was still blowing what helped engines to cool, no overheating, but it was like riding into the hair dryer and kilometers just sluggishly counted down on gps. But suddenly flat sand changed to flat plain – we were back on our tracks from morning and in the distance could be seen watering station in Mahoot. Even that bikes rode lighter. We were back - one 30 check out no problem. Ray went to collapse to motel lobby, I went to pick cold soda from coffee shop fridge, Adrian was sorting bikes. Feeling of achievement arose in me so I popped out soda, shook it and sprayed Adrian champagne kind of way. “Refreshing”. Then “fitter bikers then Ray” loaded bikes. Baking on the trailer till bikes were strapped, quick shower and curry in cofeeshop; all of us drank 3-4 soft drinks with it. And more in the car. And ice cream. And even more drinks. We were so dehydrated that I pissed brown dust… for the rest of the weekend. But hey, good ride.
On the way home, reading cycling mag I came on article about Milan-San Remo race in May 1982. The weather conditions were described as “wet and very cold”. Weeell… Almost like here.
… and VVBGDN is still waiting…