Trans Hajar 2012 - Day 3

(from point of view of "photographer")

Pls for more info about Trans Hajar 2012 follow the link to their official web site www.transhajar.com

To see unprocessed 3-4 mins video from this stage click here.

Today the track has shape oh huge number 8 - 1 part is Arqi loop - racers started same route as on TT day1 along foothills of mountains, passed below highway bridge, bumpy track in the wadi and connection to Arqi loop with it saw-tooth-like profile but instead of turning to single track they carried on closing the loop again below the bridge (but this one few kilometers up the highway) just to be swallowed by narrow walls of Wadi Quryat with its soft gravel track and green pools. Wadi spat riders to Quryat, small coastal town on north-east coast of Oman. Then riders had to battle their way over Quryat hill - spectacular display of road building engineering - which provides beautiful views over the plain towards the sea but also incredible incline. After that riders were diverted to pipeline meandering on the foothills of Hajar range eventually connecting to same route they rode in the morning for last 15-ish kilometers.

In the morning I spoke with Spanish riders (now nobody call them differently but "Spanish train" - mind you that one of them is former pro and apparently winner of stage (or stages?) of Vuelta few years back and another is World Cycling Champ in Police WM from Adelaide, Australia as I was told), the guys had fun and gave me most of the interview in spanish, oh well...

Interview in spanish
Interview in spanish... The fastest one from Spaniards
All Spaniards were using 29"-ers

Whole pack of riders rode together on first kilometers on the road, but field quickly stretched as soon as they hit dirt.

Whole pack of riders rode together on first kilometers
Whole pack of riders rode together on first kilometers

Here - introduction to Omani wild life - was waiting for them big camel in the middle of the road.

Introduction to Omani wild life
Introduction to Omani wild life

From here I sprinted to position myself on the downhill from "spike" - treacherous full of sharp rocks eroded path - as this was promise of interesting shots. And it fulfill it to the point - the first riders flew down it showing incredible bike handling skills, their arms struggling to hold it steady, forks doing their jobs on 100%. Suleiman flew Superman over the handlebars hitting ground hard - received from audience (me!) 9 out of 10. He lied down for several seconds ("I had to check if I did not break my watch" he admitted later) but soon started to move, shaken but looked ok. Rest of the riders survived dh ok, many of them walking (boo!).

downhill from
Downhill from "spike" - treacherous full of sharp rocks eroded path
Suleiman after Superman over the handlebars
Suleiman after Superman over the handlebars

On Arqi loop I took several photos - but here it was more-less road riding (only on mtbikes and on graded roads).

Suleiman after Superman over the handlebars
Arqi loop - more-less road riding
Arqi loop
Arqi loop - in background village of Arqi

The graded track brought riders via small village with its picturesque mosque to start of Wadi Quryat. Unfortunately fast group was too fast and I missed them passing first pools, however I managed quite a few riders from the rest making big splash or some of them walking thru running cold water.

Village with its picturesque mosque
Village with its picturesque mosque
Wadi Quryat
Wadi Quryat
Wadi Quryat
Wadi Quryat
Riders in Wadi Quryat
Riders in Wadi Quryat

Then back out of the Wadi, using advantage of closed old black top road over Quryat hill I sped up it and I manage to catch first 5 (3 spanish riders + Rob Barel (overall leader) + another rider) just finishing the climb, riding relatively in comfortable speed, but steady. Few minutes after them came Youcef, trying to squeeze out of his legs and lungs maximum, eyes fixed on his gears. Then more riders were passing - James riding with Suleiman, little bit later I met Willy taking the hill easy, helmet on his handlebars, still smiling.

Leaders on Quryat hill
Leaders on Quryat hill
Downhill from on Quryat hill
Downhill from Quryat hill
Willy taking the hill easy
Willy taking the hill easy
Quryat hill - spectacular display of road building engineering
Quryat hill - spectacular display of road building engineering

Next place where I stopped was small but steep graded track. Suleiman spinned over it - "Piece of cake" he said. Slightly behind him struggled Marcel B. Few minutes later passed James - apparently he was drained of energy, rotating legs just from habit (and as he said in Finish this was his worst day on mountain bike, incredibly suffering last kilometers). Soon after passed few more riders 1-by-1, also Lake riding together with another rider.

Suleiman and James still together
Suleiman and James still together
Piece of cake
"Piece of cake"
Welcome sight of another climb for J.
"Welcome sight" of another climb for J.
Lake riding together with another rider
Lake riding together with another rider

I repeated few kilometers up and down on undulating graded track, it was after 13:00 and no more riders in sight, I called it the day. Few interviews in Finish area - u will have it on DVD.

Picturesque section on undulating graded track
Picturesque section on undulating graded track