Archive for December, 2016

Lake Qarun Ride 2016

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.

Magic lake

Magic lake

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.

athos-aramis-and-porthos

Athos, Aramis and Porthos

king-of-the-dunes

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.

fritz-and-marcel-scan-horizon-for-pascal

Fritz and Marcel scan the horizon for Pascal

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.”

Fritz Best

pascal

Pascal

marcel

Marcel

Hammerfest to the Sea

by Geoff Crawley

Porto Soukhna, December 2, 2016

Due to circumstances beyond CCC’s control, our semi-annual “Ride to the Sea” was delayed a few weeks due to certain situations in Egypt that didn’t actually occur.  To put a positive spin on this, it allowed me and my fellow Lycra enthusiasts to fester over the weather forecasts for the next several weeks, intricately watching the prevailing wind patterns, and sneak in an extra session on Mokattam hill repeats to prepare for the suffering that was to ensue (unless you were sitting on the beach like me the weekend of said hill repeats).  Unfortunately due to the delay, our Swiss “suffer-master” Marcel, was unable to join, after representing the CCC in Dubai at the Sea to Sea ride in preparation for this epic journey.

Geoff at the top

Geoff at the top with Golf of Suez in the background

Nevertheless, the day arrived and an eager bunch assembled at the front of CAC, clad in long sleeves and extra layers, and hoping that additional riders would greet us on the way to help keep the pace unpleasantly fast.  Luis, Euan, Joe and myself began the journey together.  Cold weather and pollution greeted us on our exit from Maadi, but as the small group of riders made their way onto the Tollway, the clouds broke, a pleasant morning of sunlight appeared, and the temperatures got even colder.  As the Tollbooth appeared, so too did the realization that the winds might actually be in our favor on this day.  A few minutes were spent at the Tollbooth preparing for the next leg and allowing all riders to regroup, and suddenly up came Fritz, a welcome addition to the team, though he and Joe were only going to do a part of the ride.  At least Fritz gave us some extra horsepower for the next section.  And then, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but David Gamal and his band of Egyptian Cairo Crit friends.  Smiles spread across everyone’s faces and we were ready for the show.

I will say the problem with a larger group is the inevitable flat ties that tend to plague certain choices of rubber (Continental 4-Season 25-28mm tires are the recommended choice of the CCC).  Since we were now such a large group, it did allow those of us who were executing the full distance to break away while said flat tire/half way members repaired their poor choice of tire/ego.  At the Regional Ring Road, we said farewell to Joe/Fritz, and continued on to the “Corona” pit stop at 73km (though my odometer only said ~70).  At this point we picked up Chris and Pascal, whom we believed would power us to the end, but yet we found napping.  With a bit of heckling from those of us who started in the wee hours, Pascal and Chris finally mounted their steeds and rode off for the rest of us to catch.  At this point the famous JP showed up, catching up with us and then making his way back to Cairo with a few of the Crit riders that weren’t going the full distance.  Once back in the saddle, it didn’t take long for us to see Pascal and Chris on the side of the road repairing additional flat tires.  Much to our surprise was that Euan had snuck out with them, and was well up the road.  Time to put the hammer down!

JP is back, here is the proof !

JP is back! Here at the Restaurant at km 70.

With wind at our back and the excitement of the long downhill stretch to the 2nd Tollbooth coming up, our pace quickened.  We could see Euan in the distance and each member took turns smashing the pace.  A quick downhill and a last uphill section saw us climbing at 40 kph, where we said goodbye to Euan and crested the top.  Pandemonium ensured as most of us realized our compact crank set up was good for climbing, but bombing downhill at 70 kph with the wind at our backs was not sustainable in a 50×11.  As the road leveled out, we took a break and allowed the scattering of riders that remained to regroup.

The last section of road prior to the final km’s of fireworks is fast, flat and ferocious as the coastal road from Ain Soukhna to the Porto turnoff is narrow, can have crosswinds, and most of the team already had 110 kms under their belt.  But this was not meant to be a joyride, and members again put out watts of power that mere mortals could not think of displaying.  With the fresh legs of Pascal and Chris, the pace was kept high, and certain members decided it was time to hang in the back and rest prior to the final.  Those of us who felt the pace was lagging moved to the front and made everyone suffer, burning matches that would not re-light once on the final climb.  After 34 minutes at 37 kph, the group saw the looming Sky Mall perched high above, the pace slowed and everyone tried to get a quick drink before the final turnoff.

I’m not really sure how to describe the final 2 kms of this ride.  Hell?  I’ve ridden Flanders and Roubaix, but those experiences did not prepare me for this.  My 34×25 gearing? Useless. My legs? Plugs of Jell-O.  My heartrate? In Defibrillation. Up and Up and Up we climbed.  And then some more.  Around a corner and a switchback, then up some more.   I watched David ride away from me as I thought I was actually moving backwards.  I saw Luis suddenly muster some courage as he told his legs to shut up and begin catching up to me.  Where were Euan, Pascal, Chris?  The others? Another bend and a fire station appeared.  Then a blockade!  The final section was blocked off!  What the hell?

The highest point of the day

The highest point of the day

 

descent-with-sky-mall

Descending next to the Sky Mall, in the background

Not to be denied, we began working our way up a golf cart path, across the fairway, and then up a final steep pitch.  We were on level with the Sky Mall, but were unable to get there.  Then the phone call came.  Euan had made it!  How you might ask? Because he was dropped somewhere along the coastal road and turned up the wrong climb, the shorter, steeper climb.  In the end, I guess we were the ones who turned wrong as we never made it to the Sky Mall.  Well done Euan, well done.

First end of a ride at a Golf court

First end of a ride on a Golf court !

Porto Soukhna finishers, behind the Hotel.

Porto Soukhna finishers behind the Hotel

Awards:

KOM: Euan being the only CCC member to reach the Sky Mall

Fastest Descent: Geoff at 69.5 km per hour to the 2nd Toll Booth

Most Flats: Chris (lost count at 2)

Sleeping Beauty: Pascal (because he is French)

Most Elevation Gain: Luis for doing an extra repeat in the search for the top  (1180m gain)

Longest Distance: David Gamal because he rode from Heliopolis (160.1 km)