Emirates Road Cycling Club Presents... - "The Percival Aviation World Cycling Challenge 2013".
Nathan tells his story:
10th December we climbed aboard BI097 to Dubai. Here we go! Early morning arrival into Dubai to be picked up by Flora Park transport. (These guys would be invaluable over the coming days. Not only did they put us up for FREE!!! but they made sure we were transported to where we were supposed to be. A big thank you to Sidek and his team.) Didn’t quite make it through arrivals before we stocked up. Some of what got consumed before our pre-breakfast sleep...
First day there Linton came to meet us, it was good to see our old friend. Then Freddy came to pick us up for a little drive around and some shopping. Rush back to the hotel and then off to the Dubai Autodrome for a few laps. It was a pretty awesome place.
They open it up to cyclists for a few hours on Wednesday nights to whizz around. Fun for everyone from serious cyclists to the very beginners. Plus it was really nice to get to ride with Linton again, it's been a while and he has been missed on the long trawl down the coast road. Then it was back to the hotel and off for dinner. A few more ales and it was time for sleep.
Thursday was a rest day before the big event. some of the other teams went for a ride but we decided that rest was best. By now Will was recovering from his cold, and instead I was well on my way to one. Achoo!
I spent the day meeting up with Boel and the kids at Mirdif City Center, while Jeremy and Will went off to fine tune Will’s bike for the big day. We later had a team meeting before the Team Captain was supposed to meet the other Team Captain’s for final meeting. Roll call: Mike Lee? Present. Jeremy Saap? Present. Will Turner? Present. Nathan Watson? Present. Team Captain?….. Team Captain?…. Where is the team Captain?! A few frantic text messages it was revealed that he hadn’t even gotten on the flight over... Oh well. Jeremy sorted it and then cooked us a massive feed of pasta energy goodness. (When going on to a cycle event, always take a top chef!)
Early to bed and up at 0315. Aw god, that was early. Bit of a snivel and “Top Chef” had prepared breakfast. Nice. So a quick break and it was off to the bus again. We arrived nice and early. It was a little cool, everyone was wearing their undershirts. Mike Lee was a little chillier and rugged up!
Last minute pits stops meant we were rushing to get tot he start line. No rush needed though, as the start was delayed due to lighting issues. They also announced that the race would be shortened by about 10km.
We finally got away and it was on! In the rising sun we headed off towards the city, it was a spectacular ride. The roads were quiet and we were heavily protected by the local Police. A big thank you the Dubai Police force for keeping us all safe. The pace was pretty high, but not exhausting.
As we neared the end we started to ramp up the speed. There had formed a small gap and Will and I were closing on them quite nicely, but then we looked up and already saw the finish line?? They had shortened it by 13km, not 10km. Bugger!
We came up short, but just in the back of the main pack. It was a little disappointing on a personal level, but we had ridden a good race, and with an average moving speed of 40.9km/h for 2 hours we were pretty stoked overall. As a team Royal Brunei came in 8th. We had to be happy with that.
After the race everyone was invited to prize giving and lunch at the JW Marriot. A fantastic afternoon with all the teams.
Saturday saw another early start for breakfast and then a recovery ride to Bab Al Shams. A bunch of pilots (egos), and bikes on an “easy” 85km recovery ride. What could possibly go wrong??!! Off we set, a few gentle miles and then down went the hammer. Oh deep joy. But the breakfast was pretty cool. It was then time to head back and call a concussion. After a few pretty hectic days I finally hit the wall. We all finally rolled to stop and I got to meet the legend that is Stephen Roche!!! Yeah baby, him!!
What a finish to a great experience!! Can’t wait to do it again next year. It was a blast.
Thank you Will, Jeremy, and Mike and a huge thank you Emirates Road Cycling Club. You put on an outstanding week, made everyone one feel very welcome, and set the bases for hopefully an annual event. Well done.