Blowing a Hooley - Grumps and MoneyPenny go Surfing ?
There was a tentative plan a few days in advance. Mellor had just returned from leave, and Grumps was Grumpy cos he still hadn’t gone on leave.
But the wives and the “bundles of joys” were in their respective homelands.
So the tentative plan for the weekend involved biking, beer and curry. No surprises there.
It also involved an overnight on Mesirah island. Why ? Well, nothing really to do with the lie of the land, or scenic intentions, no. More along the lines of some windsurfing mates would be there, and they could carry our beer !!
It’s a long way to go, there and back just at the weekend though, and being dedicated PDO employees, neither Mellor nor Greasy wanted to take time off work.
Hmmm, so what to do? We spent Saturday night (and Sunday night come to think of it) discussing various plans over several quiet Coronas…. and then forgot them by morning.
But then, just as it was approaching “panic planning time” there was an announcement at 15:00hrs on Monday, that Tuesday and Wednesday will be days off for all of PDO. Naturally, we left work at 15:05 and began making plans. Quick check that the bikes were OK was agreed so we went to Monday night madness, met up with the boys on Bowsher, had a few beers at Dolphin, and then onto PDO boat club for afters, followed by curtains at midnight, onto Mellors for an evening of The Old Grey Whistle test (ask Daisey, he now knows all about 80’s music and is a very big fan of Fergal Sharky….Jimmy, Jimmy!!) with Barbarella, the Prof, Grumps and MP.
At 04:30 hrs, full of beer, wine, whiskey and gin we regretfully agreed that a 10am departure just wasn’t going to happen.
We both rose at 11am. Sore heads.
Mellor stole Vindaloos tank, and fitted his bum basher too. Air filters renewed. That was it. Hondas….y’know.
It was a slow and painful day, but after off loading our beer, tents, chairs, and food for the weekend (4 steaks and a pork thingy) with the surfers, we set off around 8pm (after grumps had played rugby, and MP rung home).
Bikes loaded, more beer in the car, shed loads of ice to ensure beer would be cold by Friday eve (4 days in the sun), and off we went.
The boys were starving but determined to make it to Ibra before a curry. So we had our first beer on the road – purely to pass the time and increase our blood sugar levels. The second was then opened just before Ibra or wherever it was we stopped, poured into some coffee cups, and we enjoyed a “cold coffee” with our curry.
Mellor was starving, so we ordered 2 Chicken Missala’s, a chicken curry, some bread, rice and salad. To quote an absent friend…. “Woof” ….it was gone !
Down to Mintrib, couple more quiet beers, we assembled Vindaloos camp beds in a much more efficient manner than he and Prof had a weekend before. Mutterings of “these are all right really” could have been heard if there had been anyone around actually listening.
Under the stars, it was warm, but not hot. Small amount of orchestral tuning was heard before both passed out around 1am, pished and exhausted from last nights antics.
5am and we were awake. The usual nuclear waste sites were added to, and we were back up to Mintrib, and departing for the dunes at 6:15.
Full of fuel we had 220 km of due South Wahiba riding to do to get to the ferry for Mesirah.
It only took 3.5 hours. And this even included some playing on the big dunes that Vindaloo and Prof had so scathingly brushed asside only 1 week previously. “just get me home you english b@stard” I seem to remember is how Vindaloo put it…… “I’m toast mate” was Profs more intellectual concise portrayal.
So Grumps skilfully navigated the boys around the horrible softies that had nearly caught him and Woof out in March. Not quite sure how, but we actually went towards the middle more, but still avoided the killers. Interesting (OK, not that interesting, but hey, better than Profs rocks….yawn).
The ride was easy and fast, and relatively uneventful. It’s a long time ago, and my memory is failing.
We were impressed with 3.5 hours, which included a few stops for a chat or a scratch…. you know how it is. No offs though.
We rode towards the ferry, and it was full, with JUST enough room for our two bikes…. and the with a bit of jiggery pokery they got another Land Cruiiser on…. and an Echo !!
Grumpy trod in a big fresh lump of (I hope it was cow) sh*t, but it looked very much like chicken missala. After strapping the bikes down and washing the boots, we made it up onto the boat for the departure, only to see our surfing mates turning up… ha ha ha, they missed the ferry, we waved to them.
2 hours it takes, but the weather is cool. It was great. Much handshaking and “yes we are riding bikes” later we arrived. Memories of holidays in France came upon me, and I even started speaking French for a while….
When we hit Mesirah there was only 1 mission. Curry.
Mellor knew a good one half way down the island (around 35 kms’s away ….Yes the island is around 75km long and 10km wide) where there is a hotel and a petrol station. We had enough petrol….just to get there, so we ignored the petrol station at the ferry terminal in the North of the island (details will become relevant soon) and headed off to the hotel and petrol station which Mellor “knew”. So after we had ridden all 35km of blacktop on the island of Mesirah…..and the road had turned to graded, and the scenery was ….. errrrr NOTHING, and we had done….yes 40km, we stopped.
“Are you sure about this?”
“Lets go back or we’ll be out of fuel”
So we rode the 40km back. Good hour that.
Back at the North of the island by the ferry, we filled 21.5 litres of fuel into our 22 litre tanks…… no comment. We did have 5 litres spare in Andys bum banger though so not too crucial.
We found the best curry place (the only place) and tucked into missalla, curry, bread, rice, salad and coke… sound familiar ? It will !!
We noticed all the cars were LandRover Defenders….. in a sorry state, must’ve been left there by the British army when they left. We were definitely in a time warp. It was 1972. Bring on the music baby !!
As our Surfing friends would be at the South of the island (and based on the fact we had just done 80% of this road already !!!) we decided to take the Eastern side and complete “a lap of the island”. Lap times my friend, its what its all about. Quote Mike ”Chaos” Quirk quoting some famous racer…… dodgy if you ask me, but true….. I think you had to be there to understand this one. Sorry. Anyway, digressing…. It was a great road, sandswept, it looked like the moon. The wind was incredible, nearly blowing us off our bikes. We saw a wrecked ship, played on the beach, rode across the mid point East-West road, played at the Southern most tip of the island, and even rode to the sea over the rocks in the belief that we were probably now the people who had driven a powered vehicle the furthest south on the island. Sad, but fun !! See the photo, I think you’ll agree.
The island is desolate. There really is nothing there. Oh , apart from sand, water and rocks….ahhh keep the Prof away !
We continued round and met the Surfers around 5pm. They were doing all energetic things, so we stopped the bikes, opened a beer, sat on our chairs and discussed their skills. James did a full speed getoff turn to entertain us. We laughed, and opened another beer.
So its Wednesday eve. We are a 45 minutes ride from a 2 hour ferry ride from 4 hours from bloody nowhere. Hmmmm. But we have beer….and uncooked curry… This is the life.
We did around 400km today. Good fun.
Wednesday night went from good to bad to terrible to who cares. The wind was incredible. It was cold. We had no warm clothes. When we tried to erect the tent it became a parachute and tried to take us Northwards. Hmm. Thankfully there was a kind of Bedou fence thingy surrounding a chicken coup, manned by 8 Bangladeshi mad boys (who were all locked in and only the chef had a key!). Don’t ask. We erected the tent on the lea side of this, which was great, but the chickens ….hmmmm…… the chickens. Being “looked after” by 8 Bangladeshi boys had made these chickens very nervous, and they didn’t sleep at night and they left the lights on !!
Anyway, the bikes were rapidly filling their exhaust pipes with sand as we had stupidly parked them the wrong way round. Rather than cleverly turning the bikes Andy simply zip tied plastic bags round the exhausts. We weren’t tired, just didn’t want to disturb our neighbours.
Finally the Surfers stopped, and joined us in our drinking frenzy.
It was too windy for BBQs, and cooking equipment was scarce, so in a bid to befriend our neighbours we asked the Banga boys to cook our food. After ensuring them that we had a selection of “white lamb” and “red lamb” they gladly fried it all up and made a wonderful dish, in return for cans of Pepsi and 7-up. Fine….. there was no way these were going to be drunk tonight anyway, not with the mountain of beer in the cars. The leader of the Banga-boys gave us strict instructions not to share the beers with them. He later marched them off off to the chicken coup and locked them all back in. Bizarre
So…. to summarise the evening. Jokes were told, no-one laughed. Various meat curries were consumed. Dave (a Road biking Surfer. pah ! spit) then produced some bottle of incredibly hot chilli paste sauce. He’d bought it off the web at very hot sauces dot com or somewhere. Yes, it was hot. On a sacale of one to very hot… it rated ….well, VERY hot. We drank a lot of beer because of that. Oh, and some wine. red I think it was.
Then the same “great mate” produced a bottle of spicy rum…. “Woof” and it was gone.
I cant remember anything else after that, but I think it was around 1am, maybe 2am. I woke up next to Andy, and I still had my trousers on, so am fairly sure everything was OK.
We woke up at around 7am. Hangovers were bad but not fatal. The Surfers looked much worse, which made me feel better. There are a couple more nuclear waste sites in the area now too !
Quick bit of breakfast, tidy up the bomb site and we were off….. actually no. I could not get any compression. Bugger, not ideal.
I pushed the bike along a bit in gear and freed the obviously stuck auto de-compressor and it started on the 8th or was it the 28th kick. Hmm.
Then as we pulled out of the campsite onto the main dirt track I thought I was on the main route (so did Andy) so was happily blasting along at 100km/hr. Suddenly a T-junction. On hard with the brakes, shit, its not working, off the brakes, lock up the rear, yank the back wheel round, hard on the gas, hit the side of the windrow…made it. Arse relaxes. Look over my shoulder….. There’s Andy at the side of the road, upright (always a bonus) but stalled. Apparently he did exactly the same but very nearly became the 3rd “mate” to have “AFTB’d” me and then stalled in the relief of safety. Still, it made for a few laughs.
Up the beach to the ferry and more fuel. We went straight on, and I slept most of the way, on the deck, in the sun, the hangover really wasn’t improving.
We got off the ferry around 11am I think.
The plan was to ride around the coast of Bar Al Hickman, but the tide was in and the Eastern side is notoriously wet. Also there was more wind than last night during the curry…..and after. We ended up riding along the road a little it and then doing my favourite trick of point and shoot and follow a straight line to the South West tip of Bar Al Hickman. It was 40km in a straight line, straight into 100km/hr headwind, with sand blasting us head on. It was impossible to see anything. And I mean anything. at times, we really were blind…. and that’s got nothing to do with being a bachelor here for 2 weeks….Anyway, the sand was soft. We were at times going flat out in third at 36km/hr…. ha ha ha how we sniggered to ourselves at being such fannies !! But really, this really was flat out.
We hit the beach after some terrible salt not-flats, camel grass, sandstorms etc etc etc after around 1 hour. Very tiring. There was a beached whale…..no, not what you are thinking. It was a REAL beached whale. Not very pretty, but they never are. We rode the coast all the way round the Southern section and then up the Western section to Hay. By the time we reached Hay it was 3pm, we were tired and hungry. We’d only done around 200km, but with hangovers in awful conditions we felt we’d done enough. We’d have a curry, book into the hotel, freshen up and hit the town….
We did all of the above. The curry was fantastic. Missala, curry, rice, bread, salad and coke…… Filled up with fuel. Bought some fireworks to vulcanise rubber when repairing inner tubes. We bought some croissants for tomorrows breakfast. Filled up the bikes (oil and petrol – both bikes used 400cl of oil), and filled 2x1.5 litre Masafi bottles with petrol ready for the big ride tomorrow. This should go nicely with the fireworks packed next to the petrol !!
We hit the town around 7pm. Determined not to eat too early and ruin all the excitement (and we were still stuffed from the curry at 3pm) we enjoyed a cup of sweet stewed tea and Carnation milk, yum yum, and a couple of cans of coke, before joining several locals in a discussion about maps, villages in Wahibas, and the last time they saw us….Not the same as a night out in Amstedam, but actually it was really quite fun. The temperature was a wonderful cool temperature (no idea what it was but maybe 18degC….. there were a lot of guys wrapped up in turbans anyway. We kept our trousers on, and 2 T-shirts. Great.)
Then the feast began. Half a chicken BBQ’d. Awesome, washed down with curry, rice, bread, salad and coke…..
No beer, no wine, no alcohol. Weird. But after last night, although we planned to carry a bottle of wine, we really couldn’t face it, and although at 8pm we regretted this, at 6am the next day we felt we had for once, made a sensible decision.
Around 10pm and back to the hotel. Mellor complaining of exhaustion passed out. I couldn’t work out how to turn the TV off 30 minutes later and woke him up with a sudden splash of very high volume snow storm. ha ha. He then complained he couldn’t sleep with his skid mark stained grots on. At this point I turned over, lay on my back, and double checked my belt was tight.
5am, awake, feeling good. But then MP started rattling on about skid staines, white grots, and how it was unavoidable cos every time he crested a blind dune he sh@t himself. The details continued….. but I wasn’t listening…… there was a beetle to watch climbing the wall.
300 km to go to Mintrib. Would we make it with 22 litres of fuel, plus 8 spare in bottles and bum banger.
We suspected the Bangladeshi petrol man would be in Salalah as he was last summer (and he was) but we knew we could always call in at Kamil on the way up.
40km along the black top. Empty the bottles into the tanks and then head for the HUGE dunes.
Last few times I have been through these dunes there have been clear Bedou tracks to follow to get through the easy way. Not this time. Nothing.
We did make it but it was tough. For me that is. I got all the soft stuff, where the bike stopped, I went over the bars and spent 10 minutes digging myself out. Andy got the pre-warning, took a different angle, a bit more throttle and sailed past me waving a finger or two on several occasions. B@stard. that’s the only way to describe him.
The following pics show these huge dunes in all their glory. Can you spot the bikes in all of them?
We did make it in the end, and the views, riding was out of this world. The dunes were all virginal, they go right to the beach, rocky cliffs too. Awesome. Only problem is it took us a lot more effort / time / petrol than we anticipated. We rode up towards the famous “very big dunes” and went to play on the “hugedune”. Andys first time descending. He looked a little nervous but after a few calls of “come you puffta” down he went and we had a few more goes. The dune was very different from previous visits. Still the best dune in Oman though !!
Back to the coast and once again got stuck a few times in incredibly soft patches. Even Andy got stuck once. But we never fell off. OK !
Up towards Bangladeshi petrol man. He wasn’t there, neither was the shop open. Hmm. So we had our final croissant, quick sip of Sweat, and on on up the Woodlands track.
Usual fantastic ride (Andys first go again) and we both had a ball. Fast blasting up the tracks, kicking out the rear, having a laugh. Loads of near misses. You know it makes sense. Errr. well.
And so, as we approached Kamil turnoff. We inspected out fuel levels and reckoned we had enough. Sod it, lets take the risk. Neither of us were hungry so didn’t need a curry. Follow me, its easy…..
We carried on up to Mintrib over the big red dunes up North.
No major incidents and we at the car by 1pm I think.
950km ridden in 3 days. Both of us used around 0.5 litre of oil which is not a good sign.
30 minutes to load the bikes up and off we set.
Wanting to ensure we had enough room for our final curry at 7pm we stopped in for a pizza, 2 samosas and a veggie pufta during the drive at about 3pm.
Oh, and those final 8 beers were still cold…….. and empty by the time we hit Muscat !! ha ha
Half way through the cans somewhere near Bid Bid we stopped by the side of the road for a “piss-stop”. Gazing merrily into oblivion Mellor (not a sailor) inadvertedly turned into wind and ended up with a very wet set of long legged shorts. Not sure if he was trying to promote the wearing of ridiculously short shorts or just that he felt a need to put back on his biking trousers……. not a pretty sight. Finally Grumps got to snigger at MP’s mistakes.
So after a couple of hours washing bikes, changing oil (ever done that on a Friday before!!) it was 7pm, and time for ………. a Chinese…..cos they sell beer.
We ended up in bed (thankfully not together) around 11pm. Exhausted, but happy.
What to do next weekend ?
PS. A top tip from the Mellor school of (real life experience) maintenance. After carrying out an oil change always remember to place the oil filler cap back in the bike before giving it one final rinsing down. Ha ha ha. Costly and time consuming (yet amusing to others) repeating the oil change.