Friday, November 13, 2009

A century in Doha

A century in Doha.. no, I've actually only been here about 5 days...

Unlikely though it may seem, there is a bike club here called Qatar Chain Reaction. Today, November 13th, was their 2009 Century Ride. That's 100 miles (160 km). Hell of a way to see the country, see route below:

I haven't actually biked much since 2007, the year I began this blog.

(That year I did the Pactour Elite Transcontinental (blog entry) and a 600k in Southern AZ (blog entry).)

My annual mileage has dropped off a cliff since then, partially due to not having goals in cycling anymore. Also, having spent Fall in Tokyo, I was worried about (lack of) acclimatization to the Persian Gulf area. It might not be wise to put my body through 100 miles as the first meaningful sporting activity since getting here 5 days ago. (The desert should always command one's respect.)

On the other hand, there is s the romantic idea of a century ride. From time-to-time, I still smile wistfully about halcyon days of back-to-back, stunning beautiful Fall centuries in NJ, PA and NY, when I used to live in the Princeton NJ area.

Fast forward to nearly 2010, and I'm "signed up" to ride a century along the Persian Gulf with my new-for-2009 travel bike, a Bike Friday (see entry). How exotic is that?

How does that Supertramp song go?

It was an early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn...

Well, I got up at 4am. Arrived at the parking lot at 5:30am. Fortunately, it's November and the temperatures won't be greater than 30C in the shade. (But, of course in the desert, there is no shade)...

(The sun peeks out above the horizon. It's around 6am.)
I have my friend Majd Sakr to thank for suggesting the ride and lending me the helmet.

Seems like there were about 50 riders of all nationalities (due to the multicultural expat society that is Qatar). Also there were Qatar national team junior members. It was surprisingly well organized. There is nothing out there. Volunteers handed out bottles of water at 3 locations along the route.

Ride report?

Well, I started off staying with the lead pack. There was a lead vehicle and a police escort. They were _moving_, so at mile 20 I knew my time was limited, so I put my head up front, took my token pull and then dropped off.

After being shelled, I got picked up by a 2nd group and rode on and off until mile 85, at which point it was hot enough that I felt cooked Tandoori style. One motivating factor to stay with someone was that I was unfamiliar with the area and didn't see signs.

On the final 15 miles into Doha, there was excellent signage to the finish, so I proceeded to ride in alone.

Stats? Total time, about 4:55, a bit under 5 hours. Ride time about 4:50. The leaders must have finished around the 4-4:15 hour mark.

(I used a Camelbak Racebak undershirt for the first time. It has a 70oz bladder. I put 50oz of frozen Sustained Energy for cooling and drinking. You can see the blue drink hose.)

A great experience. Makes doing centuries fun again. Have I re-kindled my love for the bike?


  1. You just made our weekend, Sandi. Carol and I are just shaking our heads and grinning. Willa is, of course, asleep.

    One more adventure in the bag.



  2. Hi Sandiway,
    Glad to see your still riding. Diane Posted this on FB. I notced that maybe you have been checking the urban Mobility Project...Im getting hits from Doha,is hat you? Let me know,em me If its not you come check me at my Love to hear from you!
    Shelly Mossey
    Urban Mobility Project