Race Report - Oman

A long way from home, my goal was to stretch myself, set new limits, and make the Bikingman Oman Sprint Race as hard and uncomfortable as possible by using what I had and then simplifying it, limiting my options and only taking what was needed.

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Prepared body.

Correct mind set.

Route steps/direction on paper – when you need it most technology will fail. Basic first aid kit – a few plasters and swabs. Survival blanket. Solar power bank. Rechargeable front light. Rear red light. 9 x AAA Lithium batteries helmet headlamp. USB charger and cables. Mobile phone – only to be used for navigation and life threatening emergencies. Reflective waist band. Multi-tool.

Leatherman.

Two spare tubes.

Patch kit.

Pump.

Crowbar tyre lever.

4 spokes.

A few zip/cable ties.

Gorilla tape. Passport and a paper copy of passport

Credit card and cash - enough to buy food and water. Sleeveless wind gilet.

Neck buff. 2 x one litre bottles. Garmin. 10 x RaceFood Far bars - this was an emergency food stash, it is tasty, I can't resist them, I ate all them in the within first 200km.

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Goals

  1. Reach Jebel Shams before sunset and leave immediately, reason being is that gets cold and I would need extra gear - warm clothing and a sleeping bag. There is accommodation on Jebel Shams, however for me this was an adventure on a tight budget. I promised myself that I would only opt for a comfy bed if I really needed it.

  2. Finish in the top five.

  3. Finish the race.

On February 27th 3:38 pm I crossed the finish line in 8th place, months later there are moments that have remained.


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25/02/2018 2:50 am

No sleep - I have been awake since 4am on the day before. I struggle with sleep and the struggle becomes even greater the night before a race. On the start line everyone already knows one another.


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25/02/2018 5:33 pm

Achieving a goal, reaching Jebel Shams, reaching the checkpoint moments before sunset.

“Don’t stay here, you will be cold and miserable” – Josh Ibbett

Fifteen minutes later, cold and sleepy, I contemplate staying at Jebel Shams for the night and sleep in freezing conditions or continue and sleep lower down where it is warmer, the encouraging words from Josh gets me unstuck and ready leave the comfort of the manned checkpoint.

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26/02/2018 11:40 am

Sign in at the checkpoint, all that remember from this day is the red sunrise.

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27/02/2018 just after mid night

Somewhere near Sur and I have been battling the sleep monster since passing the through electronic checkpoint one in Ad Dreez on the morning of 25/02/2018. It is close to 12am, in the TT bar position I'm nodding off too often and drift into the traffic lane. Inside the town Sur just after mid night I find a hotel, check into a room, pause the ride. And strip off the kit and let them air out to kind of freshen up, plugin Garmin, phone and light to recharge (the light has built-in power bank, might need it), set an alarm to go off in 3 hours, take a quick shower, dry off, and jumped into the bed.


I remember waking up 3:45am, the alarm was out reach, lifted tired body out of bed, and over to the kettle flip the switch to boil water for coffee while I take a quick shower. The coffee was instant, standard hotel stuff, the good stuff - 2 Nescafe sachets, sugar and 2 long-life milk pods. Waiting for the coffee to cooling down I kitted up, filled water bottles, unplugged devices - the usb charger and cables where the only items I took off the bike. The charging cables were long enough to reach and charge the light and Garmin attached to handlebar and phone in the top tube bag. Then took a few minutes to enjoy the coffee, 4:20am I'm on the bike, stop at nearest cafe shop for another coffee and prepacked food for the road ahead - little sponge fruit cake slices, as many as I could fit into the top tube bag and 3 jersey pockets. Cafe shops in Oman close late, usually around midnight and open up early, usually an hour before morning pray. You will always be able to find food and water on the Bikingman Oman Ultra route, even if the cafe shops are closed, you never too far away from a fully stocked 24 hour petrol station.

After leaving Sur a fully charged Garmin freezes, stops working, only a hard reset would revive it. Not wanting to lose the GPX course I left it as is and let the battery die. I was already on Route 17 and all I had to do is to remain on this stretch of road until reaching the turn off for Al Hajar (about 170km) and then use the directions I had written down on paper and google maps on my phone (cell reception in the small towns is really good) by pinpoint my location to navigate the town and get onto the gravel section before the finish. From Al Hajar to finish it is +/- 39km.

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27/02/2018 3:38 pm

Two out three goals achieved, finishing in 8th place, I'm pleased with the result as I have never gone under 3 days in a 1000 kilometer race. It has been an experience that has changed me completely, reshaped my mind and body.


In total I slept for 6 hours and 30 minutes.

2 hours in Nizwa on the floor at a fuel station. 1 hour 30 minutes in Lizq at a bus stop. 3 hours deep and uninterrupted in Sur in a bed. Best sleep ever, just what i needed to get to the finish.


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27/02/2018 3:50 pm

I have experienced real freedom, lived in the moment, and improved my physical and mental well-being.

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That is it, thank you for reading, I hope you found it to be a useful resource.

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