Pls for more info about Trans Hajar 2012 follow the link to their official web site www.transhajar.com
Al Salil valley was still in cold shadow of Hajar mountains but Race village was slowly waking up and things were getting hectic. The racers who arrived already the day before and camped did their morning chores, and more riders were streaming in. However at 8:00 when race should kick off there was nobody on start line. On today's program was Time Trail - 40 kms and the organizers opted for little bit strange format. As it was first day, riders had option to start when they were ready. This saved lot of stress to riders, however it meant that while first riders started around 8:30 - last one was on track still around 15:00 (and photographer too ;)) ).
We had chance to experience today's time trial track on last two laps of "Dirty Dozen". The track started on black top for first few kilometers, then continued on dusty undulating graded track. After another 2 kilometers of tarmac started bumpy graded track thru wadis, later dual track, meandering on foothills of mountains. The "highlight" was so called "spike" - short but extremely steep climb which only strongest could cycle. On other side was steep downhill, rough dual track full of loose sharp stones and washed up eroded holes. From there nice and fast undulating section brought riders below the brige near Al Tarif village, track went thru wadi for few kilometers and brought riders to Arqi loop. This was realy tough part - the track profile was like saw teeth, several short but steep hillsm, climb downhill and climb again. On turn to wadi/single track section local kids were cheering the riders. The single track section started in wadi, and track snaked thru small jebels and - poeticaly called - "Rock garden". This section was another challenge as it was difficult to keep steady pace, the rocks trying to kick you off the bike. Highlight was short technical descent - "The rock" - on smooth steep rockface, which quite lot of riders walked. Small gorge spat riders into wadi floor again, from here it was just few kilometers of flat single/dual track, then 2 short downhills, later one really steep and full of loose sharp rocks waiting to slash your tyres.
I followed our fastest rider - Youcef who started around 8:30. Chris, Bert and Alex were already on track. On narrow dual track it was imposible to overtake the rider, but I managed to witness "spike". I overtook riders on wide Arqi track, then unsuccesfully trying to trash my Landcruiser in the narrow wadi which circumnavigate single track section. Several riders just came out, I took out my bike and cycled to "Rock" and get some shots. Unfortunatelly riders were arriving in long intervals so I drove around track several times trying to meet riders on other sections. Once coming back to end of single track section I met Suleiman runing next to his bike - rear tyre slashed (and as the day ended he was not the only one with same fate). The attempt to change tube was unsuccesfull so Suleiman finished fist stage on my bike (lucky bugger).
The winner was Rob Barel - former triatlon pro - he was couch of Omani triathlets for Asian Games. Even after his carier already ended because of "the age" he proved he is still incredible strong leaving 2nd finisher approx. 7 minutes behind.
Here are few photos from day 1.