Archive for September, 2012

Porto Sokhna Ride

The ride was supposed to be one of our traditional Ain Sokhna rides, but the Porto Sokhna extension proposed by Jun proved to be irresistible to nearly all planning to ride only until the Ain Sokhna toll booth. First ridden in the Spring of this year by only a few under Jun’s lead, it goes further 36 km beyond the Ain Sokhna toll booth (117 km), with a steep 3 km climb to the Telepherique behind Porto Sokhna, at about 300 m above seal level, 153 km in total from Maadi.

It appears that the best way to attract new members to the Club, or to motivate older ones that we have not seen for months to come back, is to call for an extraordinary ride like this one. We were 12 participants: Tobin, Jun, Nick, Joe, Thomas, Timo, Erhard, Lars, Mike, Dan, Pascal and myself. Thomas was the newcomer, coming from 6th of October, and making 2/3 of the ride. Pascal, in turn, joined only from the Restaurant at km 75, introducing a unique practice he claims to have numerous advantages, but collides with the velominati rules adopted by the CCC. Riders such as Timo, Dan, Erhard and Joe were doing this ride for the first time. Interestingly, we had one vehicle per two riders, something never seen before.

The ride in the first leg went smooth. Thomas and Dan joined the team at the beginning of the Ain Sokhna road. After the Cairo toll booth we started rotating en-echelon to optimize the group effort, something that proved to be more difficult to do in a coordinated fashion than expected, as many of the riders have not been riding with us for too long. We arrived at km 75 at about 9 am for refuelling and the group picture seen below. Note that Dan is missing in the photo. We arrived at the Ain Sokhna toll booth an hour and a half later and from there on the distance started to pay a toll on some riders. Nick had two punctures on the coastal road between Ain Sokhna and Porto Sokhna, which gave the opportunity to regroup. His tyre had a hole, and fortunately Mike had a proper patch and saved the rest of his ride.

The pack disintegrated shortly after continuing the ride thanks to Timo and Pascal at the beginning, and in the last few flat kms Tobin igniting the turbo, with 6 riders arriving to the foot of the climb in the front pack at noon time. The climb averaging 10% inclination was really tough, especially if you attempt to do it with a 39×23 bottom gear like the professionals or Nick. It was kind of an ordeal for all the riders who finished up there, because not everybody made it. Joe ran out of water, but still managed to finish pedalling or by foot in dehydration. Mike came in with him after a break in the bottom, and Pascal got a slight heat stroke, which was alleviated as the cold beers he kindly offered kicked in.

We rejoined down at the Porto Sokhna restaurant alley for lunch, and surprisingly met James II and Khadiga who were on their way back from their bicycle journey to Hurghada. Departure by car to Cairo was about 14:30 and everybody made it safely and very satisfied of having done such a bike Marathon. This has to be  the longest stage done in many years by the CCC, since the Taba-Sharm was done in only one day by previous generations. That is to say: there is still room for improvement…

The awards were conferred (most of them by Nick) as follows:
Polka dot jersey goes to Jun for the climb of his life; also all the credit for inventing this ride
Points: Pascal for masterful tactics in sprinting to the Ain Sokhna tollbooth, also for the most amount of km in the car
Combativité: Timo for dragging us for about 30km with his mountain bike
Never-surrender price: Joe for making it up the climb on foot
Best Newcomer: Dan (the Kiwi), who took the second place in the climb
Best come-back: Lars, after several months of absence or running
Most flats: Nick
Most stylish: Mike for somehow finding time to shower, change, and make it to the top in civvies