Oman Race 2009 

The afternoon began in beautiful sunny, hot, weather with a familiarization loop of the circuit, where it became clear of the work that had gone into the 10km course and of the difficulty of fast bike riding in extreme heat. It was also clear that the tricky, technical climbing, sections would catch people out and it was important to have a clear run at them. Four more laps would be tough.

After a short rest (in the shade) we were off. I got a reasonable start in the initial sprint which was important as there were limited overtaking places on the course, and from 5th place I could pace myself to my competitors.

Gradually I made places up during the first lap so that, coming to the most awkward technical climb; I was second behind Suleman, who was about 20m ahead. As he approached the climb Suleman stopped, got off his bike and walked up the climb. A little light bulb came on in my head, my chance!

If I could climb the tricky section on my bike I’d be right up with Suleman and have a chance of the lead! I immediately had to change into an easier gear to get as much pedal speed and ground speed as I could. Unfortunately in my eagerness to catch up I fat handed the gear lever and the chain went into the rear wheel. If not game over, then this was a life lost. I pulled the bike off the trail, uttered as many oaths as I could (and created a few new ones) and heard all my hard work of the first lap go by me. Eventually I extricated the chain, from between the spokes and the rear cassette and put the rear wheel back on and walked up the climb.

Once up the climb I got back on the bike and attempted to catch up.

The second lap was the toughest mountain biking I have ever done. The heat was intense, the initial testosterone rush of the first lap was gone and I was a long way behind. Nevertheless I passed four people on their bike on this lap and one more walking his punctured bike back to the start and..... failed the technical climb. After screaming and shouting for some water to be thrown over me at the start/finish line I started on the third lap (thank you dear!), slightly cooler and attempted to pace myself for the rest of the race...and failed the technical climb.

Finally the fourth lap began with a shower of water and a shout of 1min 30 seconds. I decided to pace myself to the finish. Unfortunately my pace was too slow and after a couple of kilometres I was repassed. I decided to cling to his wheel to try to repace myslelf. Sure enough after half a lap I was out of the doldrums and decided to pick my pace up to the finish. With the renewed energy I overtook two more people and started the approach to the technical climb. I had three people close to me and realised that if I made the climb I would stay ahead.

As I crossed the line I was glad only four laps were required, my legs were jelly, I was out of energy, water and breath but I had at last cleaned the technical climb and made it back up to a 3rd place finish in 1 hour and 2 minutes. Congratulations to Suleman on a stunning ride in intense heat for the win and Willy for a great 2nd Place.

The Podium