Xterra Czech - solid working my way up to the podium
August 8, 2015
April 5, 2017
Oman TransHajar MTB Race
February 17, 2015
Muscat, Oman and Jebel Core, Oman - Last year my good friend Thomas Kammermann talked about this awesome race and experience in Oman and a multi stage MTB race there. I have never been to this area and I have never riden my bike further then 80km, so I was optimal prepared to sign up for this adventure. Muscat is an impressive city nested next to the Gulf of Oman and directly behind it are some very large mountains. The weather for Oman Winter is very nice, every day sunny and between 25 to 32 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately Thomas and Sandra could not make it this year to the race and so I recruited Leandro Glardon (Xterra athlete) to join in on this adventure. 2 nights before the start we arrived in Muscat and the adventure was set from the very beginning with a very crazy taxi drive, being dropped at the wrong hotel, being picked up be the general manager of the right hotel, having a very spicy dinner and a room in a hotel - does this building qualify as an hotel - what ever it had a bed and some sort of a shower. The shower had 2 options, cold and very cold water.
This year new in the organization of the TransHajar was that the inventors sold their race to Oman Sail (state tourism) and they added a new 5th day to the race. Race day number one actually stated with the transfer from the airport to the race village at Jebel Core (close to Jebel Shems).
Stage 1. consisted of a 40km time trail, starting on a special build downhill road for the race, winding back up to to the plateau and around the close by village. Unfortunately for me I missed one of the small markers, sending me of 15min into the wild searching to get back on the course. With this handicap I started into the second stage on rank 14. The second stage was the longest of the race with a 127km and 2000m of climbing. This stage started very well for me, I was able to match the passe of the UCI elite riders and up to 101km all was good. Then my salt level was from one kilometer to the next completely off and with a lot of cramps I somehow made it to the finishline, adding another 40min handicap on the leader to my time in 9th position. Day 3. a fresh start and feeling all fresh again the stage had some challenges with a long 900m climb right after the start, followed by another special build single track downhill. The downhill was stunning, winding through a lava field, very rough and bumpy with many indescribable beautiful views. The elite riders were too fast for me in the long uphill and so I spend a long time with the lead women or riding solo. In the end I made it solo at 8th to the finish.
Day 4. the second shortest stage, but the one with most and steepest climbing to the high plateau if Jebel Shems. Some sections of the climb were as steep as 26% and many of the amateur riders had to walk longer sections of it. Again I started with the elite, made it almost to the top of Jebel Shems with them and then got dropped and making it solo back to the finish, again in 8th position. Day 5, the final stage - still all remaining competitors were keen to race and start early to split the field. The stage consisted of a 102km course around the Jebel Core with a very rocky descend at 30km, a steep and rocky climb to the second water point at 57km and a final climb to the finish. I got dropped on the downhill from the top 6 elite riders and got lucky to have Matt stuck with me to chase them down. It took us about 10km riding with 45km/h average rotating every 1km to keep the pace. Once back on the 6 leaders I could finally eat something and rest a little up only to get dropped again by a small climb and a sharp attack of a couple riders. This time Matt was behind me and just a few meters ahead of me was Tudor. In the next km I caught up to Tudor and we managed to keep the top 5 riders in eyesight. At 53km they did a bad turn going left, but the course did a sharp right going up to the water point and the top 5 riders missed out on that 3km loop.
Tudor and I made it first up there, just to be caught by Max Knox repairing a leak on his front tire earlier and still fighting to keep some pressure. The three of us road from there on together and at the final climb we had a good pace, but no last sprint. I crossed the finish line first from our group, but all knew that the top 5 riders had missed out a good section on the course - in general agreement the furtive riders where penalized with 15min. These 15min restored the correct order in the GC, but ment also that our group of 3 had a 30second faster time then the group of 5 ahead of us, resulting in a win for me in the final stage. Other Swiss in the race were Marcel Kamm, self pronounced tourist rider, well he actually made it almost every day into the top 10 and hammering some good times out on the uphills. His friend Marcel training for Cape Epic finished strong and getting the base miles in. Leandro Glardon with some trouble with his rear tire finished 18th in the GC, very proud of him that such a young rider can sustain such long rides this early in the season.
I can only recommend the TransHajar race. It is absolutely stunning beautiful, the people are extremely nice and most speak fluent english (except taxi drivers). The stages are not easy, but doable and great to get some base miles in the legs. Accommodation in the tents, warm show, lounge tents and a buffet for all meals make it a true glamping experience.