So… first week done in Abu Dhabi (weekends here are Friday and Saturday, why not?) and you need to get a decent ride in… What to do?
Yes, time to get out the maps (google that is) and hit the 7 lane multi billion dollar highway to a location where there are (relatively) cooler temps, quieter roads and some hills. Head East my friends, to the town called Hatta (not to be confused with Hatter, or Hater). This is how it looks, navigation wise:
The landmass to the north would be Iran… Ok… Awesome. It was about 260km’s to Hatta, so how to get there? In style of course! I had asked for a Landcruiser, but Europcar ended up giving us this beast instead:
And, this would so happen to be the limited edition, so the mothertrucker has EVERY option you’d ever possibly find on a car… So much so, it takes a while to work out how to work the fucker and set it all up. Was I nervous about heading into the desert in a Ford? Massively… Its yet to break down yet and I do have to say its V8 engine is pretty epic! If not a bit thirsty…
But, to quote Alex of Arabia, “Petrol is cheaper than water here!”, I didn’t really believe that, but it turns out to be true FFS:
Check it – Half a tank of gas cost 50 desert dollars, which translates into $15 AUD!!! FFS, its 30 desert dollars for 2 coffees! No wonder you have to queue up for the shit, its almost too good to be true. But, by the way they drive here, they need a lot of it. Yip, its a cross between Singaporean road manners and Malaysian speed and tail gating – SUV’s are the preferred weapon of choice… Pick up trucks also happen to be popular and very handy, especially if you need to take Alice the Camel to the mall, vet or race track:
It wouldn’t be a roadie without some DIRTY Maccas… I shouldn’t touch the stuff right now in race prep mode, but its part of any roadie, so we selected the McArabia meal (no shit, actual name of the meal), which seemed to be a cross between a hamburger and a kebab… Unique, but nice work Arabian Hamburglar.
Here is a key learning – It looks a LOT easier on google maps to get somewhere than when you start to drive it… This is something I had experienced before, with G Maps making it look like a piece of piss, but when you hit the road, its anything but. I had two things in my favour:
- I had the ‘Teacher’ on navigation duties
- We cheated and used the Google maps off-line navigation, which I have to say, is impressively awesome… Until the end.
Another learning – When you get right into the middle of nowhere in the desert at night, its extremely dark… Not just dark, but OMFG its the end of the world dark! I have to say, it was quite an experience doing a desert roadie… At night… didn’t really consider that.
Google maps offline navigation was step by step perfect the whole way… We were high fiving and praising those nerds, right up to the point where it guided us to an empty road about in a dark part of town, proclaiming we were at our hotel, which didn’t exist… Interesting. Circling around the neighbourhood/ghetto for some time did little to assist us with locating the hotel and it was only after some confusing phone conversations that we arrived at the Hatta Fort hotel.
Right, its now the weekend (Friday) and I am off for my first real road ride in the desert! Apparently we have 1800m of climbing today over 115km’s or so, should be interesting!