From humble Hatta and flogged out Fa-Jay-Jay, the next stop on this weekends dirty road trip was the magpie attracting ex-pat oasis of Dubai! Again, the Teacher was all over the mothertrucker on the navigation front, guiding us smoothly to our hotel on the coast:
Alas, that’s not our hotel, but the view from my room… I wasn’t that keen to part with the cash to stay in a 7 star hotel (Did anyone know the rating system went that high?), instead the filthy road crew selected the upper end of the mid range, aided by some healthy discount action that the Teacher had pulled out of his marsupial like pouch of magic tricks:
Don’t let its palatial looks fool you, service was decidedly average, starting with the MOFO’s trying to tell me my bike (AKA my child) wasn’t allowed in the lobby… WTF kents?! They didn’t get very far with that action. After thrashing myself to smithereens in Hatta, I was pleased to see some real R&R time, because, you know, life has been fucking hard lately:
How would I describe Dubai? Well, imagine if the Gold Coast took a whole load of steroids and other such performance enhancing means and then when out one night on a massive bender at a high end club. After doing lines, it then ran into Singapore and they made sweet (but slightly tumultuous/vigorous) love – 9 months later, out would pop Dubai, in the middle of the desert. I can kind of see why ex-pats like it (its always summer, no tax, biggest mall in the world etc etc), but for this nomadic road trip team it was definitely a one off.
To today then – I would have loved to have stayed in bed all morning recovering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, but as the rule goes, when in a new city/town, its important to get out and ride the new terrain with a new group. Great concept, but it feels massively like shit when you go to bed at midnight and the alarm goes at 4.15am!!!! Was I going for a ride or was I the walking MF dead? I had a local contact in ‘Beam me up Scotty’ who took us out to the regular Saturday (which is really Sunday) ride:
So… Why does the ride start in the middle of the desert you’re wondering? Well, the answer to that is one of the main themes of today’s ride, as its quite unique and even a little bit bizarre.
Yes, we were at the Al Qudra desert cycling track, believe it or not, an 85km 100% dedicated cycling track through the desert, just for bikes. Yeah, I know, I had the same thought “Bike tracks/paths are shit and for gimps, not for real riding”, well, that’s mainly true, until you get on one that has been funded and built by epic Oil cash! Fuck me if I have never seen a cycle path quite like this one.
Not only did it have the smoothest surface ever, but it was wide enough to ride 2 abreast in both directions, long at 85km’s and speed was no worry (my max speed for the day was 66.6kph!!). And not a car in sight… What did it look like? Time for a flavour:
The group is the usual Saturday (Sunday) ride crew, which starts out steady and then splits out into fast and steady groups. The surface was amazing, the only tricky bit? Well, it seems that the desert has its mind set on reaching out and retaking its path:
The fast group was quick… So it should be given it had an ex-pro and the two guys who between them had won all the local races this year: Jamie, who was like the Dubai version of Timmy Wilkins and very strong, and the second being none other than Michael Sagerman. He’s well known for being the man that won the stage in Thailand when Mr Goat put his arms up in the air in the greatest act of premature victory ejaculation ever seen in amateur cycling… So a good group to be out with. The track itself? KM after KM of inch perfect riding surface through a giant sandpit:
As you can tell from the last pic, there is nothing around… Its not like this is part of another road network… its essentially stand alone and there to be smashed. And smash it we did, I had wanted to rest my legs today, but it was soon apparent it was going to be ON:
I had been told that the last 6km’s was when it REALLY ramped up… Full smashfest material and sure enough, it started to unfold. I had a caffeine gel on board and plenty of fever, so was right up there in the mix, with close to 1.5km’s to go, Mr Sagerman came to the front for a massive turn and I knew this was the wheel to go with… We smashed along in the mid 60’s and with less than a KM to go I came around and gave it a massive kick to the end, warp speed and spun out.
Result? We covered the last 1.8km’s in 1 min 50 seconds at an average speed of 59.4kmph (faaark, I couldn’t turn the cranks any faster), taking out the KOM for the segment in the process! Its not often I hang on in this situation with second hand legs, or get a KOM this popular, so I was decidedly stoked to be honest, a bit like this:
Even better, the opportunity presented itself for a quick Rapha porn shoot, which has been missing of late, get your crispness on:
I have to say, this would have to be one of the best bike paths in the world I am guessing… I would never want to be a bike path expert, but the quality of this one was unlike anything I could have thought possible and it was a huge novelty factor to ride this. Did I mention the average temp was only 21 degrees? Perfecto! All in all a very good ride and another surprise to be honest – 85km’s ridden at an average speed of 36.5kph showed this wasn’t a slow shit commuting bike path clearly! Huge thanks to the local boys for a fun and eye bleedingly fast finish. I also MASSIVELY approve of your ex-pat fever that sees vehicles like this parked in the carpark, Santa, take note, I want one of these please:
The rest of the time in Dubai? Well, we went to the world’s biggest mall (tallest building, biggest mall – starting to see a theme here?), which was about as far away from my current lifestyle as I could imagine. It was rammed with epic excess and shit no one really needs (except for the Lemon Gelato I smashed). It did have fresh fish though:
Hence we bailed pretty quick back to this:
The drive home interestingly saw us ducking whilst being overtaken by high end SUV’s (Cayenne’s, Merc G Class, Lexus cruisers) at anywhere between 170 to 200kph, its a national sport here to get the best SUV you can find and then drive it like you hate it and want to rip a hole in the actual fabric of time. We also refer to it as “driving like a c*nt”, plenty of examples of it, including a Pajero on its roof in the middle of a 5 lane freeway. Handy.
So, the dirty desert road trip comes to an end with 600km’s driven, 190km’s ridden, a whole bunch of new experiences and learning’s banked and an excellent time had. Massive thanks to the Teacher for being a navigation whizz and all round road trip legend. Tomorrow I have to go back to that building where people show me PowerPoint slides and I nod and smile and we talk about things “At the macro level”… Bring on the next road trip!