Day Four begins from CP3
I woke excited to don my clean kit at around 2:15AM, long before my alarm was to go off. The momentum of being more than halfway to the finish has hit me and I simply cannot sleep. I snapped a photo of myself looking nervous before leaving.
I cycled along in the dark through a fog which quickly turned into a fine mist. I imagined I could hear my sunburned skin hissing from contact with the cool water as my long-sleeved wool jersey started to soak through. I had a waterproof jacket, but was happy to take some of the heat out of my arms and couldn't be arsed to open the handlebar bag carrying my waterproof.
Cycling is fun again
I pedalled along happily as there was practically no traffic to disturb my peaceful ride. I was already feeling great that I had woken up so early. I was shouting/singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs when Holger, a rider I hadn't seen since the start, passed me, nearly giving me a heart attack. I was not expecting to see anyone. I started to apologize for my shout-singing but he had already gone ahead after a quick hello.
I met him again at the next gas station and then a few hours later at another station. The third time we met, the service station was not open and Holger had pulled into the lot and was looking at his bike computer. I was about to take a small short cut and waited to see if he was also going that way, but he continued to inspect his device so I started off first, wondering if he was also planning to take the short cut and didn't want me to follow him.
I took a left turn as planned and soon saw that he was behind me. He passed me again and we met at a little coffee shop where the shopkeeper tried on my glasses while I was refilling my bottles. I snapped a few photos as he was a good sport about it, and had already called the shopkeeper next door to also come and take a few photos. He posed with Holger's bike and we both laughed as he continued to pose for more photos. I felt my spirits lift and was really enjoying my day so far.
To the beach!
We were now on a downhill trend and I enjoyed it immensely after the flat slog of the day before. I was enjoying the saltwater air as the humidity increased the closer I got to the coast. I turned a hard left when I got to the beach and smiled at the atmosphere of people sitting around at cafes, noticed lots of smiles and a generally chilled vibe wherever I looked. Being an islander, though, it was probably all in my perspective upon suddenly seeing water and beautiful views again.
Soon my Wahoo Elemnt was beeping and flashing "Andreas" Weird, I thought. I have always used a Garmin bike computer and only bought the Elemnt for this race, so I was still not familiar with all the features. I was annoyed that I didn't know why it was suddenly showing me someone else's location, but then wondered if it was signalling the checkpoint. I looked around me to see if I could spot anyone when I noticed Andre(as) running out into the middle of the small road waving his hands trying to flag me down. He was in his socks and covered in sunscreen, and he seemed to be surrounded by Indian men.
As I approached, I did not want to stop. I was making some good time and enjoying the relatively effortless pedaling which I knew would not last through the day to Sur. There were some hills coming up and I didn't know what the wind was going to do, but had heard about terrible head winds facing us ahead. I was probably also annoyed because of having to stop the previous day and all that had ensued as a result of my being stopped without actually wanting to stop.
But it was Andre(as) and I wondered if he was in trouble. So I stopped. But he just wanted to talk about his saddle sores. "Oh my god, it's hurts so bad," he cried. I empathized with him and reassured him that everyone was hurting. "But in the middle??" he asked incredulously. He made me laugh. "Come on, Andreas," I said, "You're nearly there!" and with that I rode off.
The coastal vibe continued to keep me in good spirits, I encountered Holger once again as I passed the electronic CP. I was getting a bit confused now, not wanting to mess anything up having come so far. I wasn't sure if I needed to do anything at this CP, but Holger said he thought it was fine just to ride past it.
I spotted another shop not long after and decided to top up my water bottles. Anthony and Axel spotted me and also stopped on their way down the coast to get some footage of the beautiful views and beaches, and to video some of the riders who were on their way.
While I bought water from the shop, Anthony encouraged a young Omani man to take my bike for a test ride.
As shown by the elevation profile for my Day 4 route, it's mostly downhill with a few spiky climbs. There was a short section with a very strong head wind followed by a few climbs, a weird rock painted like a tiger and then really nice tailwind and big open roads. The tailwind section is when I was rocking it and Anthony and Axel showed up in time to capture me enjoying myself nearing Sur (see video at the top of this post). I pushed and pushed until I reached the steps of the hotel, trusting my Elemnt was giving me the correct instructions, and enjoying the slow pace of traffic in the town.
Tummy troubles in Sur
I had planned to stop in Sur, but hadn't planned on leaving so early in the morning, or reaching it nearly so quickly as I did. But I knew I needed a mental break from riding and my body was craving food other than sweets. I decided I would pedal to the hotel, eat there if the restaurant was open, and then make a decision whether to book a room or not once I had eaten.
I ate and felt like I really wanted a shower, so that was the determining factor. The staff were excellent and allowed me to take my bike to my room and they even sent my leftovers as I hadn't been able to finish the food I had ordered but knew I'd be hungry later.
I called John and we talked about what I would do from here. I decided to sleep for a good 6-8 hours and set about organizing my devices and cleaning my bike and bags.
Time to go!
But I only slept for about 2 hours and was wide awake at 8PM. I decided to start getting ready. It looked like the others nearby were probably staying the night, but I was also having stomach issues and felt like my body was relaxing too much. I worried it might get worse and then what would I do?
I headed back around the corner for a few snacks and fresh water, stopping to chat briefly with these guys at the shop who were so amazed that I was cycling to Muscat and had already come the long way around from Muscat.
And with that, I set off on the last leg of my journey. Pedalling into the night, I can't say I was the sharpest, but I was alert and looking forward to my big finish ahead of schedule if everything went well. I still had no idea what was to come, which was part of the adventure. One thing was for sure - the finish line was pulling me like a magnetic force. I was starting to let myself feel excited to put this whole journey into perspective. But I wouldn't count my chickens...
(Stay tuned for the last installment of my Bikingman Oman race report where I pedal into Day 5...)