Archive for November, 2015

Porto Soukhna Sky Mall Nov. 2015

November 20, 2015

Gathering in the half-light to the sounds of brake levers clicking and car doors shutting, we greeted each other and made last minute arrangements. The mood was rather business-like. Luis didn’t even wait for the usual V past the hour before our meager group of seven set out on the Queens stage of the season – Porto Sokhna. There were 3 Sky Mall virgins; Olivier, David Luna and myself. Luis and Joe knew enough to be dangerous while Pat and Mike promised to support us to the Jiffy Lube before returning.

 

My hopes for a favorable wind were crushed on the way to the tollbooth. It was blowing steady onto our left shoulders and a moody fog rose out of the Wadi. We settled into our own rhythms and began to discover whether we had brought our good legs today. Mike seemed to have good legs and good spirit but he was crappy domestique. As we approached the Jiffy Lube he played devil’s advocate, tempting us to turn back to Greco for cake and coffee. We ignored him. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

 

We were down to five men and the job was still ahead of us. The fog intensified as we pushed through to the Helwan exit but all agreed that the cold and damp were preferable to full sun. From there we all played the game of the group ride: contribute to pacesetting then sit in the wheels, eat, drink & conserve for your next pull. It was a pretty nice team effort and although we lost Olivier a few K’s before the tollbooth, he showed up soon after and replenished for the final push.

 

At last the wind was at out backs but now the road was against us. It wouldn’t be a CCC ride without encountering a bit of road works but after 110k’s, cranking through 3k’s of gravel did not get a ‘thumbs up’ from anyone. The pace was good, the Red Sea was blue, the legs were on edge in anticipation of the Sky Mall. Olivier took a turn at the front and blew the bunch apart. I wondered what was in that Columbian banana.

 

And then we were below it. The Sky Mall kicks you in the guts right from the get go. David went straight off the front and I went straight into granny gear. My legs were empty but I knew I needed to hold on for just a few more minutes. Each corner I looked up to see David’s yellow jersey still moving impossibly higher. As the Sky Mall came into sight Luis went past me but I had no answer. And then we were there – completely spent but rewarded by an amazing view. It was an incredible ride with fantastic people.

 

Congratulations to David for winning the day and big thanks to Luis and Joe who organized cars, driver and supplies. Massive Kudos to Olivier who suffered the most but never quit and rode with amazing courage up the whole Sky Mall climb.

Rick H.

 

from left: Rick, Joe, Luis, David &Olivier

from left: Rick, Joe, Luis, David & Olivier

 

Olivier finishing the ordeal

Olivier finishing the ordeal

 

The victory ceremony

The victory ceremony

 

Joe capturing the happy finishers

Joe capturing the exhausted but happy finishers