Adventures in Oman - cycling along the coast from Sur

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January 2nd 2020
Published: January 2nd 2020
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I set off along the coast from the rocky headland where my hotel was located at the leisurely time of 9am. The nice smooth road with very light traffic hugged the azure Arabian Sea for several kilometres so I watched as the fishing boats laboured out through the chop. After a while the road veered inland and that was the last I saw of the sea for a couple of hours. So much for my coastal ride!

The scenery reverted to the fail safe option in Oman - variations on the arid and rocky theme. I passed through dry rocky gorges, descended onto arid boulder strewn planes, wound my way through landscapes akin to deserted quarries or recent commandeered building sites. On the map a forest a was identified, so I had been looking forward to a break from the burnt toast coloured scenery with something lush and green. It was only when I consulted the map afterwards that I noticed that it was an acacia forest, a hardy silvery shrub able to survive on bone dry terrain. So, “lush and green“ it was not.

Just before the road rejoined the coast I came across a family of camels. The cow and calf camels were on my side of the road and a colossal bull was on the opposite side of the road. As I was passing, the bull, clearly not accustomed to bicycles slyly snooping up behind him, suddenly rocketed across the road to defend his family, missing me by a whisker. That gave me a nice jolt of adrenaline. Shortly afterwards the road hit the coast again winding a path between the beach and the dunes, so I had a lovely view of the sea again, with a few amateur surfers being tossed around by the waves.

After about an hour and a half of battling against the headwind I threw the towel in and headed back the same way, sailing along at a good clip with the wind behind me. About an hour from Sur there was a turn off to Ras al Had, where the turtles come to lay their eggs. It was the wrong time of year to see that, but I figured that I should be able to find somewhere to get something to eat and drink. It was a bit of a dusty back water with no scenic option leaping out at me, so I just pulled in at a fairly random place opposite the castle, which probably sounds a lot nicer than it was.

As I pulled up on my nice sleek, but somewhat dusty, Cervelo racing bike another chap pulled up on his clapped out old “sit up and beg” two wheeler. My fellow cyclist and the chap from the restaurant then proceeded to pore over my bicycle, picking it up and looking it from all directions, bestowing on it endless awe and admiration. Just as I finished my chicken shawarma the restaurateur asked sheepishly if he could have a go on it. I felt that it would be a bit miserly to say no, so I consented. The next thing I know, he has hauled up his baggy top (he wasn’t wearing the classic floor length gown at least), swung his leg over, positioned his flip flops on the cleat-compatible pedals and ridden off down the main road out of sight: on my pride and joy, not to mention my transport back to Sur.

I have to admit that I did have a slight niggle of concern, but I figured that it would be easy to locate the thief, if it came to that, given that I knew where he worked. However, my fears were soon allayed as he swung back into sight with a big grin on his face. Needless to say the other cyclist also wanted a go, so my bike was passed over to him to repeat the performance. I side stepped the query about how much it cost (probably not far off the average annual per capita wage), and was eventually reunited with it for a leisurely ride back to base.


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