Archive for April, 2013

Red Sea Monasteries Ride 2013

April 12-13 

The rides were done in two stages over the week end, for the first time in CCC history. It was proposed by Hisham as an alternative to the former Taba-Sharm extravaganza, which could’nt be done this year either due to security constraints.

We managed to attract eight participants, five with their families: Hisham, Lars, Pascal, Erhard, Joe, Jun, Thomas and myself. We stayed in the Cancun Beach Resort Hotel situated 22,5 km south of Porto Sokhna. Logistics included Hisham’s Wrangler and a microbus as sag wagons.

The first ride went southwards to the Saint Anthony’s Monastery (450 m.a.s.l.). It leads 20 km to Zafarana with tail wind, where one takes the Al Kurimat Road to the west for 33 km with strong side wind, to proceed on the deviation to the Monastery to the South with a gentle inclination. Upon arrival there, we decided to have a look at the Monastery entering the walled citadelle on the bikes through the back entrance. Quickly a monk in a vehicle asked us to follow him into the very heart of the place and showed us the way, which implied carrying the bike. However, we ran into trouble when another Coptic monk, this time a very senior one, told us to get out, realizing that our presence, attire and sophisticated equipment was attracting a lot of attention among the young visitors. Nonetheless, we were strongly encouraged to visit a cave in the mountain that all visitors must see. We managed to escape from there, take group photos and initiate the ride back to the Hotel.

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First stage in Saint Anthony’s Monastery.

Coming down on the long straight road one hits the persistent North wind from the front. We were enjoying the ride when suddenly Erhard touched Joe’s back wheel while drafting and went down badly. He landed into sharp stones that opened a deep cut into his elbow: end of the ride for him and transportation in the sag wagon to the doctor on duty in Porto Sokhna, and later to Cairo for a more special attention.

The ride back to the Hurghada highway was dominated by the side wind again, which became frontal in the last leg from Zafarana to the Hotel. Travelling at speeds around 20 km/h and with a scattered peloton, we finally arrived at about 12:30 after 133 km, and spent the afternoon in bed or with the families at the beach.

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Second stage at the Saint Paul Monastery, in the background below the cliff.

In the evening we were guests of Hisham and Diane, who stayed in their villa next to the Hotel in a magnificent compound called La Vista. It was a very enjoyable dinner, many thanks to them for the hospitality. During the evening we learned that Erhard’s wound had been stitched and the dead skin removed, and that he will be fine, big relief for everybody.

On Saturday the remaining participants departed at 6 am and half an hour later we were already in Zafarana with an average of 37,6 kmh, due to even stronger tail wind than the day before. Pascal called for a sprint in Zafarana, and shortly thereafter he took off like a rocket to claim it. After Zafarana we kept heading southwards for some more 30 km with the awsome scenery of the Red SeaMountains coming towards us, and the Sea at the other side, which reminded of the Sinai ride. At km 50 there is a deviation to the Saint Paul’s Monastery (350 m.a.s.l.) which is a straight road with increasing inclination into a real 3 km final climb at the end. Thomas took the mountain prize, after he had taken before another hill sprint in the main highway that Pascal thought he could win also.

The Monastery’s main building is a very interesting construction built up in the mountain side (see photo), that we didn’t have time or shoes to visit. We rode the 10 km back to the Highway, except one of us known for doing part of the rides in a vehicle (who could that be?). The rest finished the ride at the junction as planned, but Jun and Thomas persisted for 30 km against the wind until Zafarana, a tremendous effort.

We wrapped up the extraordinary experience with a fine lunch in an Italian restaurant in La Vista, by the pool landscape, with a beautiful view of the Red Sea and Sinai. Hisham took the award for Initiator and Organizer of the event, Pascal the Sprinter award, and Thomas the King of the Mountain award.

The Red Sea Monasteries ride is now defined, and the first chapter is written.

Luis

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Second stage, riding towards the Red Sea Mountains, South of Zafarana. Photo by Jun.

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