Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Sinai Ride Day Two - Tuesday
The "BIG" day, 125km to our second camping night. A big group start after some warm up "star" jumping and a hearty breakfast, now leaving the coast and heading inland, and a welcome to the hills of the Sinai! The first 25km covered without much issue and soon our friends in the yellow shirts showing us to our first water and comfort stop of the day. Traffic was not too bad and most gave us a wide passing, although we could never quite guess if the "horns n waves" were ones of encouragement or "get out of the way"! The last riders on the road came into the first stop approx 20mins after the first, and with no shelter from the sun 40mins plus standing in the full glow of the sun required a second helping of sun screen.
The next 25kms was a bit more fun. Leaving with the "lead" group of 7 or so the pace picked up a little, and in no time we couldn't see the "pack". Looking back again we could see that Theo, the Tour Leader, was trying to get over to us, heads down and we soon had a "Tour de France" chain gang going all taking our turn on the front. We couldn't shake him, but he wasn't gaining, until a small incline slowed us but not him, the following descent saw a grinning rider join us, sweating a little! As we entered the outskirts of a small town, our Police & Tour Guides pulled us over, our speed had pushed a gap between us and the main pack to one that they were not happy with, so we had to wait whilst they pulled back some time. the next water stop came and went.
Cycling was on long flat roads, no wind to speak of and seemingly never ending. It had been hoped that the 75km stop was for lunch, but a change of plan meant this was pushed to the 100km mark, energy bars and water stop bananas providing enough fuel to keep us moving.
The forth part of the day proved to be hard going, the long roads seaming to grow as they stretched out in front of us, a "comfort" stop saw me lose the front group, and hard as I tried I couldn't`t get back to them, I slowed and let a second group catch me up so I had company. Their pace was a little slow though and I sadly pushed on, alone. A long left turn saw the road start to climb, not a big hill but a drag, and in the full heat this prove a real test. Through the heat shimmer a could make out a figure by the road, as I got closer I could see it was one of the group taking a comfort stop, and before long I was on his back wheel. "PJ" his bruises from yesterday, now a lovely purple in colour. Turns out PJ was a bit of Geologist and his description of the various rock formation distracted us both from the task in hand, getting up the hill. About half way up we come upon some roadworks, no traffic lights or cones here, just battle your way through, the bemused faces of the workers as we pedalled past a joy to behold. I think PJ was struggling a little, he latter admitted he was and kindly thank me for getting him up the hill!, as the pace dropped, we both had mentally calculated that the 25km should be up, but with the heat and effort we could have been wrong. The hill eventually flatten out and, as all up hills do, started to go down, although the wind meet us and so it was anything but a coast down.
The lunch stop was heaven, the guides had taken over a "cafe" so we had shelter, toilets (proper ones!) and food, Spaghetti, chips, fish, salad, bread... with plenty for seconds! 25kms to camp, turning left the slight side wind we had been experiencing, now was a full blown head wind, so although the road was relatively flat the going was tough.
In what seamed no time six of us had ridden through the bunch and had a good distance between us and them, pedaling hard for the glory of being first to camp. The heat was beating down and the guides had agreed to put in a "quick stop" for water at around 15km. Shortly before this 3 of us required a comfort stop, we were emptying a Camelback in around an hour, what goes in must come out! The chase was on, 3 v 3, in our sights the 3 front riders, we could see them stop for the water, and were off again, should we stop, we slowed and the guides poured water over us! cheers! The pursuit began again, so close, and yet so far, the two groups pedaling for all we were worth. In the distance the road drifted to the right and as it did we could make out figures by the road side, "is this the yellow shirted guides?", if so we had little chance of catching the lead three.
As we saw, little more than 1/2 a mile ahead, the three bikes turn left away from the road, the chase was up, we slowed, catching our breath.
A great days riding, a camp fire and sleeping under the stars, a great day.