Fayoum, Dec. 9, 2016
Three CCC Musketeers set off out into the desert
Today was the long awaited Fayoum Special, meticulously planned by Pascal.
Three resolute adventurers left Maadi at the crack of dawn, bikes on top of Pascal’s 4x 4. We saw the sun rise as we passed the Pyramids. At around 8:00 we arrived at Kasr Al Saga and left the comfort of the car. A cold wind was cutting across the desert from the east. We rode in a westerly direction above the northern coast of lake Quaroun. I told you Pascal’s planning was meticulous. We had a tail wind for most of the ride.
We set off at a cracking pace winding our way through the hills. Spectacular views were offered either side, to the right the mountains, to the left down onto the lake. The cracking pace was compromised by several stops for photo opportunities. We were in a beautiful landscape. It was quiet, apart from Issam the driver following us in Pascal’s car there was not another vehicle in sight and the air was clean. All in all a real treat for a Cairo Cyclist.
About half way down the length of the lake we turned left and raced downhill towards it’s shores. Suddenly we had to slam on the brakes. The road ended abruptly. Another opportunity for a photo shoot. We turned round and climbed back up to the main road. At the top I turned round to see where the others were and had the shock of my life.
I saw Pascal was allowing himself to be pulled up the hill by his car. I didn’t think he was capable of such a horrifically unsportsmanly act. I rubbed my eyes. The phantom didn’t go away, however before I could whip out my camera to document the deed we were united and on the road again. Pascal will be able to claim it was some kind of desert mirage. Soon we began to hit sand dunes that had drifted across the road. We practiced our skills at navigating these. The trick is to go at than fast, shift down a couple of gears and pedal hard. This requires some nerve because of course none of us wants to lose control of our trusted steed. I saw Marcel keel over. Pascal, reckless rider as he is, was most definitely King of the Dunes.
The wind was beginning to whip up and we could feel our faces beginning to get sand blasted. Plumes of sand drifting across the road created an eerie atmosphere. Marcel’s chain needed a clean having been plunged into the sand during his fall.
At the end of the lake we doubled back along the south coast into a cross wind. We worked in rotation and made good progress. After what felt like around 20 KM we turned off the main road and headed towards the Wadi Rayan Nature Reserve. After a few noisy villages we got to a kind of toll booth. Each rider had to pay 40 EGP to enter. The Car 5 EGP. Maybe because it was being driven by an Egyptian. I didn’t get the logic of this and tried haggling with the ticket salesman but without success.
Pascal announced that he was going to take it easy and he would see us at the mountain on the lakeside after about 20 km should we want to stretch our legs. Marcel took him by his word. The wind was in our favour. Marcel hammered it all the way and I was glad to be able to stick to his rear wheel. It was an exhilarating ride, flying through an eerie, empty, shimmering, desert landscape, peaking 65 KMH on a gentle downhill slope.
We got to Jebal Madawara at around 11:00 am in good spirits. Pascal arrived a few minutes later. There was a lot of regret that this is not a strava section. I am sure we would have set a new record.
After packing up our bikes Pascal demonstrated his skills at rally driving and took as across a series of dunes at breakneak speed down to the “Magic Lake” where we had our picnic in an icy wind. Like a true boy scout Pascal was well prepared and pulled out a couple of cold stellas from the back of his car. I think I can forget about that earlier incident.
A great ride in great company. We hope the riders employed in the oil business will be able to join us next time and we can form more of a peleton.
“All for one and one for all.”