Edit Blog Post
Published: January 3rd 2020
Along the route from Sur to Muscat I had been intending to climb one of the other climbs featured for Oman on the website Climbbybike (there are only four), as the starting point was just off the main highway. However after catching a glimpse of it before the turn off I elected to skip that option as, from the short section I saw, it appeared to be a murderous, near vertical, corrugated surfaced, wall of death that might be doable on a mountain bike but would lead to blood and tears on a road bike. So sod it. And for crying out loud, this is supposed to be a holiday...
So I sailed onto the next option on the list of potential activities that I had jotted down over breakfast - Wadi Tiwi. The lower reaches started where the highway passed over the valley on a towering viaduct. There was a paved road which meandered along the waterway for a few kilometres, before narrowing to barely more than the width of a land cruiser, and ramping up steeply into a village. Just as I came towards that point, there was a river crossing the road that I took with a
bit more gusto than was advisable in my little tin can on wheels so I skidded out of it narrowly missing the rocky wall. After that I elected to dump the car and take to my feet.
I peeled off from the road, cutting up through the narrow higgalty-piggalty passageways of the village. Once again no sign of any women. I did hear a lady’s voice shouting angrily at a bawling baby, which was probably crying it’s eyes out on account of being born female in a village where she would be consigned to a life of servitude and imprisonment in the home. I can’t say I blame her. Incidentally, the current Sultan has been working hard to give women equal rights, and has achieved impressive results in Muscat and some of the other urban areas, but has met considerable resistance from the tribal sheiks in the less developed areas. Ergo, no women to be seen. Apparently the sheiks also banned a new lady’s cycling club in Nizwa, although I can understand that a swift transition from floor length abaya and burka to bottom skimming skin tight Lycra might have been a bit more than they could swallow in
Above the village the valley carved its way up between two towering cliff faces of the Hajar mountains, with a series of oases and some more villages, all kept green and lush by a complex network of ”falaj“ (irrigation channels), which are essential to the survival of so many people in this arid environment. So I hiked for about an hour or so, keeping to the quiet road as the only tracks were a bit too rubbly to navigate without my proper walking boots, before retracing my steps and hopping back into the car for the next Wadi stooping point - Wadi Shah. That one proved to be a bit too mobbed by tourists as it was so close to the highway so I skipped that. I stopped at another couple of places, but nothing much to note.
The next challenge on the agenda was, once again, how to navigate Muscat’s crazy mesh of highway hell to find my new hotel with no navigational tools apart from a couple of imprecise maps in my guide book and a falling to pieces paper map of the full country. Hmm. Soon enough I was suckered into fast flowing figures of eight, loop da loops, ups and downs and roundabouts. I am sure the road designer cut his teeth designing fun fair roller coasters, and decided to apply all the same concepts here. Fine for locals, not so great for solo adventurers with no functioning route finding devices. However, luck was on my side. I exited at the correct spot and then headed in the direction I thought my hotel was in, and apart from the road name being inconsistent between my paper map and the road sign I managed to locate the hotel without too much trouble. Phew!
Somewhat boosted by my obvious navigational skills (“I’ve clearly got this sussed...”), I decided to make the most of the last hour or so of daylight to do a bit of city cycle sight seeing. I headed to the Grand Mosque, which incidentally was not the grand looking one I had previously spotted. Even my baggy cycling kit was far from suitable for gaining access so I was limited to ride-by viewing. Then I decided to cross the highway and climb up a small knoll to see the other grand (-er, if you ask me) looking mosque.
That is when the trouble started, because every road leading down from the knoll deposited me back on the highway heading in the complete opposite direction from my hotel. So I figured that soon enough I would get to a junction that would allow me to bang in a U-ey. But no, not with this highway design! So I was then subjected to navigating figures of eight and loop da loops on a bicycle in rush hour traffic for about 10kms, all the time knowing that I was going in the opposite direction from that which I wanted to go in, with the paltry minutes left of daylight eking away. I was very tempted to try my luck scaling the middle reservation, amid the buffeting traffic, but I decided that even the most reticent of Omani police may be more than a bit miffed by me pulling off that sort of manoeuvre. Eventually I found a place for doing u-turns so I finally just made it home safely just before the sun sank behind the Hajar mountains.
Tot: 2.782s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 7; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0332s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb