so this is a first pass test from the internet cafe in the atrarium(sp?) lobby of the Metropolitan hotel in Dubia. its @12noon here, a leasurely morning of breakfast with steph b/f she headed out to the quarantine barns to care for dear krusty and a 4 hour ride this afternoon.
I had to content myself with a couple hours of reading ; local spa ; and testing out the net cafe with a double tall latte and ... well here I am.
So, in lue of being able to provide pictures just yet, I'll do words.
Uneventful (if long) flight over. spokane->seattle (1.5 hour layover) seattle->amsterdam (9 hour flight) 6 hour layover. smasterdam -> dubai (6 hour flight) arrived at 12:00pm (midnight). picked up by this arab guy (nice guy but limited english - with a message from steph .. something about a race tomorrow in Al Rawath (sp?) near Abu Dabi. he's leaving at 4:30 am and I can ride with him if i'd like - steph is going to be there - riding or not it wasn't clear etc. ok. hotel at 1:30. sleep by 2:00am, up at 4:00am. transit to al Rathwa endurance village in a thick soup of a fog 2.5 hour drive - ariving at 6:45 - ride start time is 7:00am. ok - search for steph - negative ... ok watch the start - practice with the new camera,
The race was the all U.A.E national championship for heavy weight riders only - first prize is a rolls, second a land rover, third a jeep. 50 starters (don't know the final finishers, but around 30 or so I think.)
they're off ....I hang out with Jim Baldwin - get introduced to all the locals (promptly forgetting all the names of course:( - breakfast was served:)
So here come the front runners. Jim's off doing stuff - I wander around - see Darolyn Butler-Dial - she's working with the crew of the horse she sold them last year, so I figure to tag along with her helping out.
her rider is in to the first gate a 10th or so. deal with the vet check/hold (30 min. its a 120km ride with 38/37/30/20 loops (ok so it doesn't add up...) with 30/40/40 min holds and a manditory out check on the final hold.)
so out on the second loop. everyone scurries over to the nearest Hummer- pile in and off we go directly next to the trail on a sand track (mostly) about 10 yards or so from the horse/rider. lots of talk (in arabic) back and forth (darolyn giving riding instructions - keep your elbows in etc.:).. every 100-200 yards, we drift over to the rider and hand him a bottle (1.5 liter) of water to put on the horse. (water cooled instead of air cooled)..drift back.
every mile or so, a "water drop" where we speed up, station ourselves (spread out) to hand more water to the rider as he passes. slow him down to offer a drink (with the rider mounted and a crew member on the head) with a small bucket to throw water on the pony...a few gulps and off they go.
its a constant 20km/hr pace all day long - its flat - its a bull dozed track - its unique from the trails we ride...
our rider catches and passes / catches and passes -- constant 20km/hr pace - it was really a joy to cruise along next to that horse all day - just a machine - loping along - hardly a change in stride or attention or anything all day...
anyway, I rode the circuit for loops 2 and 3. since we were in a pack with the shieks son, there were between 10 and 18 cars in the pack (including the camera car(s) and a police rig) so it got a bit congested at times. it was handy to be in a hummer tho, anytime we needed, just off into the dunes and jet around the masses. whata gas.....
it was desert tho - hot - humid too in the morning fog.
all this time I'm wondering what's up with where steph is. she's certainly not at the race so I figure she must have decided to forgo it and do horse stuff and try to find me (of course she couldn't find me).
so all day i'm thinking to hook the first ride back to Dubai (which is where the endurance village that she's at is located.
So anyway, Sandra (from Australia and the Kanavy groom) was there with Karen from new mexico, so they were headed back at @3pm or so (right after the first 4 riders were in.) so I road back with them.
a back road short cut (of course) lost in the desert (well not really, but they are doing a massive teraforming of a strip of may be 30 miles by 70 miles running from Dubia to Abu Dabi maybe 10 miles in from the coast line) I mean they are moving mountains of sand and rocks, leaving flatnes in their wake with these platues (sp?) which are i think going to be capped with large (maybe 200x200x20 ft) water storage containers. Anyway, there are these access roads that run in a grid through this area, and the short cut was to take the southern most access road in about half way, then cut through the sand a bit and pick up a tarmak that runs off to the south/west and comes right out at the barns....of course we have to try a few of the access roads first - in and out - 60 mph - not leaving the ground TOO often. missing ALL the large earth moving vehicles (mostly:) and finally even achieving the goal of finding the endurance village....
found steph - happy (my first question - are you warm yet? - she is!:) dinner/drinks (wine)
so here we are - home of the richest folks in the world and it shows - should be an interesting 3 weeks......