The Sinai MTB epic ride, December 2010, Part II

This is part II of the Sinai MTB Adventure ride photo-documentary. Part I is here.

So, we got our permit and after a long drive made it to the top of one of the mountains to start the first day of our adventure. Despite the delay, Mossalam, our guide (pictured) radiated a contagious reassurance that everything is on scheduele. You cant help but trust this ever-smiling face.
So, we got our permit and after a long drive made it to the top of one of the mountains to start the first day of our adventure. Despite the delay, Mossalam, our guide (pictured) radiated a contagious reassurance that everything is on scheduele. You can't help but trust this ever-smiling face.
At this point, let me tell you a little bit more about Mossallam...
At this point, let me tell you a little bit more about Mossallam...
Hes fast. A little too fast, actually. On his feet or on his bike. Up or down, no matter where the trail points, hes probably faster than you. He flies over singletrack like a hovercraft, floats over the  mountain rough stuff with finesse that would make mountain goats envious. All that he does on a 20+ year old 7-speed Trek that has no brakes to speak of, running about 25 PSi in both tires (we were running 45-55), 75 mm of travel on an old Suntour fork with rusted stanchions, and with less than half the water that each of us carried. Oh, and he lights a cigarette every time we take a break.  Youre going to have deep thoughts about how you ride and that $3000 bike you ride if you ride with Mossalam.
He's fast. A little too fast, actually. On his feet or on his bike. Up or down, no matter where the trail points, he's probably faster than you. He flies over rocks/sand/drops/boulders/singletrack like a hovercraft, floats over the mountain rough stuff with finesse that would make mountain goats envious. All that he does on a 20+ year old 7-speed Trek that has no brakes to speak of, running about 25 PSi in both tires (we were running 45-55), 75 mm of travel on an old Suntour fork with rusted stanchions, and with less than half the water that each of us carried. He doesn't jump or huck, but I'd like to see what he would do with a brand new long travel trail bike. Oh, and he lights a cigarette every time we take a break.
Youre going to have deep thoughts about how you ride and that $3000 bike you bought if you ride with Mossalam.
He just makes it all look too easy. You're going to have deep thoughts about how you ride and that $3000 bike you bought if you ride with Mossalam. By the way, he is also a desert flora and fauna expert, tri-lingual and general polymath. Respect, Mossalam.
The riding started on fast and flowy doubletrack (that turned into singletrack about 3 km in) in a huge valley.
The riding started on fast and flowy doubletrack (that turned into singletrack about 3 km in) in a huge valley.
About 15 minutes into the ride, Samer had the first flat of the trip. A tiny puncture probably from one of those thorns that Acasia trees drop.
About 15 minutes into the ride, Samer had the first flat of the trip. A tiny puncture probably from one of those thorns that Acacia trees drop.
...a flat that became a recurring theme throughout our trip. Nothing short of excorsism would rid Samer of the demonic rear tire that just loved to go flat every time Saemr started having some fun on his bike. While Kandil helped Samer out...
...a flat that became a recurring theme throughout our trip. Nothing short of excorsism would rid Samer of the demonic rear tire that just loved to go flat every time Samer started having some fun on his bike. While Kandil helped Samer out...
...Neal and I killed the time by doing a photoshoot with an Acasia tree...
...Neal and I killed the time by doing a photoshoot with an Acacia tree...
...and Mossallam lit a fire for warmth (and a cigarette)...
...and Mossallam lit a fire for warmth (and a cigarette) while telling us a story about one of his previous adventures or random factoids about our natural surroundings.
So how was the riding? Awesome. Amazing. Epic. The trails, the grand moutain views. Words will not do it justice. Everything from jeep trails, sandy doubletrack, sections of slickrock, never ending ultra-technical goat trails, off-camber cliffside singletrack, high-speed downhills and killer up-hills. Lots of a hike-a-bike (mostly on day 2) rewarded by blazingly fast descents.
From fast and flowy singletrack...
From fast and flowy singletrack...
...to sand/gravel doubletrack....
...to sand/gravel doubletrack....
Endless rock gardens...
Endless rock gardens...
...sometimes it was so loose you struggled for every bit of tracktion...
...sometimes it was so loose you struggled for every bit of tracktion...
 ...or so steep you lean back so far so that your rear tire buffs your butt.
...or so steep you lean back so far so that your rear tire buffs your butt.
Twisty, winding and STEEP goat trails...
Twisty, winding and STEEP goat trails...

Just wait for the video!

Thats why: we were loosing sunlight fast. We were still far away from the rendezvous point with our support trucks, and we didnt have adequate lights for night riding. The tube is slowly leaking, so we thought Samer would get away with riding cautiously and giving it a few pumps when it gets dangerously low instead of loosing time for a tube swap.
We were loosing sunlight fast. We were still far away from the rendezvous point with our support trucks, and we didn't have adequate lights for night riding.
...then Neal and Samer swapped bikes. The idea being that Neal is lighter and will put less load on that tube. The tube was pumped to the max, and we started riding again, with the time against us.
After a well-earned rest stop. We just hammered it all the way for the last few kilometers to the rendezvous point..

We finally arrived to our camp site for the night in almost complete darkness. Thankfully, Neal and Kandil have packed their camping headlamps and we had some light to ride by the rest of the way. Mossallam didn’t seem to be bothered by the lack of sunlight and blazed ahead to the camp, literally knowing the trails like the back of his hand.

After setting up our camp...
After setting up our camp...
We were treated to a dinner of potatoes, chicken and chick peas. This picture is of the aftermath of dinner. Total annihalation!
We were treated to a dinner of potatoes, chicken and chickpeas. This picture is of the aftermath of dinner. Total annihalation!
This is how they make the best bread youll ever taste: bedouin bread. FLour, salt and water. Knead the dough on a rock. Bury it in hot coal for 10 minutes. Dust off slightly and enjoy. Seriously, this stuf is amazingly delicious. The coal used is from burning a wild plant known as Retm.
This is how they make the best bread you'll ever taste: bedouin bread. Flour, salt and water. Knead the dough on a rock. Bury it in hot coal for 10 minutes. Dust off slightly and enjoy. Seriously, this stuf is amazingly delicious. The coal used is from burning a wild plant known as Ret'm.
Our guide and support crew. (photo courtesy of Neal Afifi)
Our guide and support crew. (photo courtesy of Neal Afifi)

With that we retired to our tent with bellies full of food and heads full of anticipation of more great riding and adventure on the next day, which I will tell you all about in part III.