MTB Egypt Rider of the Month: January 2011

Name: Neal Afifi


Where are you from?:

Living in Cairo

What do you do for a living?

Self employed. Partner in a Business Services and Consulting Company.

When and why did you start cycling?
I had a very late start in my life. I started in 2008. I always liked cycling and always enjoyed being outdoors, so  once, while jogging in WadiDegla, I saw several mountain bikers descend from the horizon and I knew right then that mountain biking was the sport for me. It is the perfect combination between a good workout, being outdoors, excellent scenery and exploring the unknown J I have no problem whatsoever to wake up at 6am on Fridays to go for a ride.

Road, off-road, or both?
Off-road only. I love the feeling of exploring unknown territory and creating my own track. Deeply philosophical, right?

Tell us about your bike(s)!:
My primary bike is a pretty mean Full Mountain Specialized 2006 Enduro. It’s quite a heavy bike, but it can withstand quite a beating without complaining. My backup bike is a generic 19.5” Kellys XC hard tail. That is the bike I started up with before switching to the Enduro. I’m not a big fan of upgrades or modifications to my bikes. They both have all the original components since the day I bought them. I’m not against the idea; I just never had the time to get into that.

Favorite ride(s) (road or off-road):
My favorite segments in WadiDegla:

  1. Balcony heading West (towards the quarries and back). Excellent switchbacks and a great track if you like ridges
  2. South ridge (from the visitor center back towards the main camp site). Excellent switchbacks.
  3. Roller Coaster (the famous segment of the corporate loop). Very fun. Ideal for beginners
  4. Box Canyon (Degla to Hof). The canyon itself is fascinating. Try to avoid the military areas!!

I’ve also cycled with the MTB Egypt team in Nuweiba (Sinai) and that was a spectacular track in the mountains.

Do you practice other sports?:
Basketball. Running. I do have other outdoor hobbies like 4×4 off-roading/safaris.

Tell us about your cycling-related injuries/accidents:
The notorious knee/shin scrape in WadiDegla: I was showing off and decided to jump at the end of a ramp (in the roller coaster segment of the corporate loop) and lost all control of the bike in the air and landed on my knee while skidding for 2 meters. That caused quite a big scrape and lost a lot of skin LMy advice: always wear shin/knee/elbow guards and practice to jump before you actually jump.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself?

Not about myself, but a few things I wanted to say in general:

  • It’s never too late to start a new sport or hobby
  • Cycle safely. Follow the safety guidelines on Wear protective armor. Never cycle alone.
  • If you would like to go out for a test ride in WadiDegla, contact me directly or contact MTB Egypt and we can help you arrange that
  • Go out and explore Egypt. There is so much to see and so much to do.

Trail tip: What to do when you break a shifter cable on the trail

Most riders do not carry a spare cable on regular short rides, and while good quality cables rarely break, especially when replaced at their recommended service intervals, it happens. Here is a quick fix that will get you home if you break a shifter cable on the trail (particularly in hilly areas like Wadi Degla, where a broken rear shifter cable means getting stuck in a tall gear for the rest of the way home, which in turn means a lot of walking!)

What we’re trying to do here is pick (and keep our rear derailleur on) a gear that will enable us to ride home with no rear shifting. What you need to do is:

1) Pick a gear on your cassette that will be adequate for the ride back home and manually shift the rear derailleur (by pushing the derailleur body inwards and to the rear) to place your chain on that gear.

2) Find a small rock (or any suitable object) to jam under the outer arm of the derailleur, as shown in the above picture, to prevent the spring from pulling the derailleur back to the smallest gear due to lack of cable tension.

3) Ride home! (and remember to replace that broken cable!)

Obviously, the Shimano XT Shadow derailleur shown in this picture makes this fix somewhat easy due to the open design of the outer arm, but most modern derailleurs from Shimano and SRAM have a similar outer arm design.

Thanks to M.Kandil for finding the right size rock when my derailleur cable broke on last weekend’s ride!

The Sinai MTB Epic ride, December 2010, Part III (final part with video!)

This is Part III (the final part) of our December 2010 Sinai MTB Epic ride.

The following day, we woke up a little before 8:00 a.m.
We packed out our camp...
Put our the gear on the support truck...
...followed by our bikes. The plan is to drive out to the ride starting point at higher elevation.
Then it was time for breakfast! A meal which experienced the fate of all other meals on this trip: Total Annihilation! (did I say that Bedouin bread is soooo good?!)
On the short drive to the ride starting point, we stopped to see Mossalam's home village. He told us about how Bedouins can spot and extract water from seemingly arid locations in the middle of the desert.
We arrived at the start point and quickly off-loaded our bikes and riding gear...
...and the rest of the riding adventure started!
After some "easy" riding through some valleys, we got to this...
It was time for some (or a lot of) hike-a-bike...
...which was rewarded by long stretches of fast singletrack and generally awesome riding! I will not talk too much about the riding now because you'll see it in a video.
All was going well and we were making good time as per the ride plan...that is until Mossallam broke his derailleur hanger. I was riding right behind him, pedaling up a gentle incline when I heard that horrible sound: CRRRAKKKK! and looked down to see his derailleur jammed between his rear wheel's spokes. Luckily he stopped before the further damage happened to his wheel.
With no spare hanger (yes, we were pushing our luck, non of us had a spare hanger), I converted his bike into a "singlespeed". Without horizontal dropouts or a chain tensioner, you can't really properly tension a chain to singlespeed properly, but in the middle of nowhere with no spare hanger, you just do what you can. Mossalam didn't seem to mind. After some cursing his spirits where up as if nothing happened. And, I might add, this didn't seem to slow him down. Maybe a little bit, not too much 🙂
At one point, the ride into a multisport activity: we had to go down an EXTREMELY STEEP "trail", simaltaneously trying to carry our bikes, not to slip off to the side and plummet down some 200 meters, and descend with any sort of dignity 🙂
Yep. It's steep.
Did I say steep? To compound the problem, it was also very loose.

That was followed by some more amazing riding that ended with us riding all the way to our beach-side camp at sunset. An amazing mountain biking adventure. While I don’t have any good photos of the rest of the ride, I do have what’s even better: a video!

Welcome to the new and improved!

Happy New Year fellow riders!

Over this past weekend we did a major overhaul of the website as you can see around here. The site now runs on a new, more reliable host and underwent a full redesign. We have a number of new features in the works, including a database of the best trails in Egypt, but this will take a bit more time.

For now, enjoy the new website, and if you spot anything not working as it should, please let us know.

…and why not join us in the forums?

Ride on!