I am pleased to announce that Per, a crazy Norwegian, and I,
Chris, an equally crazy Canadian, successfully completed a
520-kilometer (323-mile) ride from Muscat, Oman, to Abu
Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in 21 hours between
Thursday, March 21 and Friday, March 22, 2002.
We left Abu Dhabi on Thursday at 11:30am by car, with Per's
wife and son along as moral support, and drove to Muscat.
After a quick tour of the sites, we went to the Al Bustan
Hotel (one of the finest in the Middle East) for a
traditional Italian pre-ride meal. The waiter not only did
not believe us when we told him what we planned to do, but
dismissed us as crazy tourists who didn't know what we were
talking about. At 9pm, we set off from the palace in Muscat
at a rather blistering pace and aimed for our first rest
stop 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. Average speed at the end
of 80 kilometers was 36.7 km/h (23 mph), with slight wind
assist and a lot of adrenaline. After a 10 minute break, we
set off for another 80 kilometer (50 mile) run, but this
time, and for the rest of the trip, we headed into the wind.
Our average speed after 160 kilometers (100 miles) was 33.5
km/h (21 mph). The Oman coastal highway is beautiful and has
streetlights for almost the entire way. The next stop, 240
kilometers (150 miles) from Muscat, was Sohar, the corner
where we turned off into the mountains to aim for the border
and Al Ain, in the UAE.
By now it was 5am. We were a little tired, and the
streetlights had run out. We stopped, hooked up all our
lights (three flashers each on the back, plus three
headlights between us), had more food and drink, and noticed
a rather ferocious wind coming through the mountains right
at us. The lowest temperature that night was 22C (72F), with
an average temperature of 26C (79F).
The light started to appear, and we headed towards the
border, which was now only 50 kilometers (31 miles) away.
What with mountains, strong head winds, and just a little
fatigue, our pace was somewhat slower than when we started.
At the border, they asked us how many days it had taken to
bicycle from Muscat. When we said we had left at 9pm that
previous evening, they repeated the question - they couldn't
understand two guys riding bicycles continuously for 300
kilometers (186 miles). We battled strong winds for a
further 50 kilometers (31 miles), to the Al Ain Hilton and
our rendezvous with two more riders, Doug MacMichael and Des
Kwok (both also Canadian orthopedic surgeons), who had
agreed to ride the final 170 kilometers (105 miles) with us
into Abu Dhabi.
By the time we set off from the Hilton, it was almost 11am
and the temperature was up to 39C (102F). The first 40
kilometers (25 miles) were, again, at a blistering speed,
with Doug pulling us at around 35 kilometers (22 miles). We
stopped to rest and we were all gasping - including the two
fresh riders. Heat and dehydration were now major issues, so
the bottom line was drink, drink, drink. We set off again at
a slower pace, and, again, ran into horrendous head winds
coming straight from Abu Dhabi. We charged on, with Des and
Doug taking turns pulling, while Per and I were starting to
show some signs of fatigue (after 400 kilometers — 250 miles
— in 32 hours, with no sleep). Stops became more frequent
due to the 40 to 50 kilometer (25 to 31 mile) headwinds,
sun, and temperatures of 35C to 39C (95F to 102F).
We ran into a lot of sand on the road. Per fell over at low
speed — no blood, just a little sand on the leg and arm. At
just after 6pm, we entered the city via 30th Street. When we
got to the main grandstands, the crowds (three wives, one
son) were cheering! According to Des, the final 170
kilometers (105 miles) averaged just over 30 km/h (19 mph),
despite the headwinds and traffic. Photos were taken, the
bikes were loaded onto the cars, and home we went. After a
shower I was asleep, and absolutely nothing could have woken
Today - Saturday, March 23 - Per and I are alive and well,
as are Doug and Des. In a moment of weakness at the end of
the ride yesterday, I asked Heather and the others to shoot
me if I ever suggested doing anything similar again.
Today, I fully retract that statement. It was an awesome